Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Can the small stable of St John Gray put the spike in the wheel of the big-gun trainers for the second time this decade in the Gauteng Summer Cup on November 28?

This is the intriguing question regarding Joburg’s most popular race which Gray won in 2011 with his five-year-old mare Dancewiththedevil.

Until that Saturday at the end of November nine years ago, the Summer Cup had been dominated by the stables of Mike de Kock, Geoff Woodruff and Sean Tarry. The bookies were delighted with the result as Dancewiththedevil was a long shot in the betting market.

Fast forward to 2020 and Gray has entered four of his Randjesfontein team for the Cup including grade 1 winner Ronnie’s Candy and six-time winner Dance Class.

Four-year-old Dance Class began her winning run when scoring at the Vaal in June and it came to an end when she was beaten by Brand New Cadillac at the same venue at the beginning of October.

In early betting Dance Class has been priced up as the second favourite at 9-1, which means females dominate the market as horse-of-the-year Summer Pudding is favourite at 5-2.

The unbeaten filly is back with trainer Paul Peter after a rest at Mauritzfontein Stud and this season’s leading trainer has confirmed the Summer Cup is the four-year-old’s immediate mission.

Champion trainer Tarry is trying to complete a unique five-timer with his nine-strong entry which includes Tierra Del Fuego, Victoria Paige and 2019’s winner Zilzall.

Tarry will be happy with Tierra Del Fuego’s first run of the new campaign when the five-year-old was noted running well from the worst draw to finish sixth behind Mount Pleasant in the Joburg Spring Challenge. However, it is a slight worry that the son of Skitt Skizzle appeared not to stay the 2,200m of the Durban July finishing a never-dangerous six lengths behind Belgarion.

Punters looking for an ante-post bet on the Cup should look no further than Tarry’s four-year-old filly Victoria Paige. While she had to be hard ridden to win on her seasonal bow at the Vaal, her runs behind Summer Pudding last season suggests the 5-1 a place being offered by some bookies are attractive odds.

De Kock has a fine record in the Summer Cup and one of his six entries, Charles, is quoted short in the betting at 12-1. Formerly with Brett Crawford with whom he finished second in both the Cape and KZN Derbies, the five-year-old made his debut for De Kock at Turffontein last Saturday.

Easy to back in the betting market drifting from 5-1 to 12-1, Charles made good late headway to finish just under five lengths behind another Paul Peter winner Astrix. De Kock is sure to give his new recruit another race before the Cup.

De Kock has also entered his talented filly Queen Supreme who finished fourth behind Zilzall in the 2019 Cup. She is likely to run in the big Cape races, including the Queen’s Plate and Sun Met.

Got The Greenlight, winner of last season’s SA Classic and Daily News 2000, is easy to back at 12-1 and this is because trainer Joe Soma has warned his star performer is not a certain starter for the Cup.

Summer Cup betting

(Supplied by bookmaker Lance Michael)

5-2 Summer Pudding

9-1 Dance Class

10-1 Queen Supreme

12-1 Charles, Got the Greenlight

14-1 Tierra Del Fuego, Zilzall

16-1 Youcanthurrylove

22-1 Victoria Paige, Crown Towers

25-1 Others

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