Picture: 123RF
Picture: 123RF

In these dire economic and pandemic times, racehorse owners will be both amazed and delighted that there is a race at Kenilworth on Saturday with a first prize of R640,000. This is only R300,000 less than the Vodacom Durban July.

It would have been no surprise if Cape Thoroughbred Sales had said “sorry, we can’t maintain our support because of financial restraints”. Instead, no doubt due to the business acumen of CTS chair and leading owner Chris van Niekerk, the R1.25m De Grendel CTS Ready-To-Run Stakes has the green light.

“We are delighted to be offering a race with a purse of R1.25m and winning purse of R640,000. It will be an exciting race for a full array of owners,” said CTS sales executive Grant Knowles.

Knowles is a guy who likes a bet so was asked which horse he fancied in the 1,400m race. He replied: “I think Seeking The Stars is a worthy favourite.”

Interestingly, Knowles owns a share in Seeking The Stars’ stablemate Spiritual Wind who has drawn pole position and is far from a forlorn hope after a facile maiden win.

Of course, Seeking The Stars, the highest rated runner by 11 points, has a lot going for him, notably a good draw and that he is in the safe hands of trainer Vaughan Marshall.

Nevertheless, it could pay to risk an each-way bet on Candice Bass-Robinson’s filly Lemon Delight. Yes, she’s drawn not far from the nearby highway, but this isn’t the first time jockey Aldo Domeyer has had to overcome a high barrier.

A daughter of Flower Alley, Lemon Delight suggested she is above average when fourth behind Princess Calla last time out and she could well make the favourite pull out all the stops.

Justin Snaith has his team in good form and his runner Taratino is very much in the mix with a career record of one win and five places from his six outings. The son of Master Of My Fate is looking a bargain buy at R100,000.

Sean Tarry saddles four runners and — while he would like to win the race for Van Niekerk — his best runner is probably the grey colt Willow Express. No surprise that he found Malmoos too smart in the recent Graham Beck Stakes.

Anton Marcus loves to compete for the big prizes and his mount Fast Love will have his supporters. Also a son of Master Of My Fate, Glen Kotzen’s charge ran in a grade 1 race at Greyville last time out.

Some 35 minutes after the CTS Ready-To-Run, Mike de Kock’s three-year-old Malmoos will try to keep his unbeaten record in the grade 2 Avontuur Estate Concorde Cup.

One racing publication described Malmoos’s Graham Beck win as “ultra-impressive”, but this columnist felt it was more a workmanlike performance. From pole position and regular rider Luke Ferraris in the saddle, the son of Captain Al should stay unbeaten.

If he has been affected by the long road trip, the two likely to take advantage are Linebacker and Seeking The Stars’ stablemate Rascallion. The latter is 2kg better off with Linebacker compared with their recent clash.

The “joker in the pack” could be another of Anton Marcus’s mounts The Gatekeeper. This R2.2m son of Dynasty was narrowly beaten on his recent handicap bow.

The third feature on the exciting Kenilworth card is the GG Gaming CTS Cape Merchants in which Snaith’s five-time winner Erik The Red is sure to top the betting boards.

With just 52kg on his back compared with the usual 60kg, the Captain Al colt will probably think he has got loose and could be another feature winner for Varsfontein Stud, also breeders of Malmoos.

Even so, the each-way call in this race is going to be Greg Ennion’s five-year-old Elusive Trader. The gelding’s close fourth behind Run Fox Run was an outstanding effort and a repeat run will bring him right into contention.

Dennis Drier’s runners always warrant close scrutiny and the veteran trainer saddles four-year-old Cartel Captain who has not raced since the Mercury Sprint. However, his form includes a second in last season’s CTS 1200 as well as a third behind Eden Roc in the Merchants at Scottsville in June.

Rio Querari gives the Snaith stable strong backup in a race where a close finish looks on the cards.

The Turffontein fare does not set the pulses racing and punters face a difficult task in finding the winner of the feature race, the grade 3 Fillies Mile. Six of the eight runners can be given chances and they are headed by Candice Dawson’s grade 1 winner Sentbydestiny. The worry is that the filly has not been seen out since August and the stable has made a slow start to the new campaign, only six winners to date.

In the circumstances, the vote goes to S’manga Khumalo’s mount Gee For Go, who has hardly put a hoof wrong in her seven career starts.

TURFFONTEIN SELECTIONS

1st Race: No Selection

2nd Race: No Selection

3rd Race: (2) Royal Escapade (4) Dr Doolittle (7) Waqaas (3) Samurai Jack

4th Race: (1) Strada Statale (9) Lady Amherst (7) Rock You (5) Sultanah

5th Race: (5) Have A Go Jo (1) Zeal And Zest (3) Oyster King (6) Kool Baikal

6th Race: (7) Tartan Dancer (11) Plum Field (2) Curvation (1) Kayla's Dream

7th Race: (1) Stately Home (5) Louis Gem (2) Ocean Forest (6) Shezaglo

8th Race: (2) Comaneci (3) Varina (1) Southern Charm (7) Persica

9th Race: (3) Gee For Go (1) Sentbydestiny (4) Caralluma (2) Due Diligence

DE GRENDEL CTS READY-TO-RUN

1 (11) Lemon Delight

2 (1) Seeking The Stars

3 (2) Willow Express

4 (4) Tarantino

AVONTUUR CONCORDE CUP

1 (1) Malmoos

2 (2) Linebreaker

3 (3) Rascallion

4 (5) The Gatekeeper

GG GAMING CAPE MERCHANTS

1 (8) Elusive Trader

2 (10) Erik The Red

3 (4) Captain Tatters

4 (5) Rio Querari

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