There is one worrying aspect as racing fans get ready to applaud (from their homes) Malmoos in the WSB SA Derby and War Of Athena in the Wilgerbosdrift SA Oaks at Turffontein on Saturday. Happy endings in racing are few.
There was proof of this at Meydan in Dubai last Saturday. After scoring an emphatic win in the Sheema Classic, US raider Zenden fractured a foreleg just 20m after the winning post and had to be destroyed. It doesn’t get much more traumatic than that if you are the horse’s owner, trainer, jockey or groom.
Hopefully all the horses competing at Turffontein on Saturday will return home safely on what promises to be a special meeting. It’s the first time that two runners will be aimed at the respective Triple Crown and Triple Tiara titles in the same year.
Bookies clearly thought they could beat Malmoos in the SA Classic, pushing Mike de Kock’s colt out from 12-10 to start at 5-2. They had to pay out as Luke Ferraris and the Captain Al colt never put a hoof wrong, beating Second Base by two lengths.
Trainer Janse van Vuuren’s runner again rates the main threat to the favourite, but Malmoos is bred to love the step up to 2,450m so has to be fancied to land the Triple Crown for the late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum.
Though Muzi Yeni will be disappointed not to be challenging for the jockeys title, his bank balance will be looking healthy (possibly not as healthy as that of Ferraris!) thanks to the exploits of the talented three-year-old War Of Athena.
It’s difficult for a trainer to keep a three-year-old filly at the top of her game, so Paul Matchett deserves plaudits as the daughter of Act Of War bids for her eighth career win.
Paul Peter’s filly Netta falls into the same category as Second Base. She looks the only threat to the favourite, but it is impossible to make a case for her turning the tables.
Yeni might just trump Ferraris on Saturday by winning two of the three big races — he is aboard Durban July runner-up Got The Greenlight in the HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes.
There are only two factors Yeni will be worrying about — the chance of his mount going flat in his second run after a long absence and whether ExpressfromtheUS will continue his phenomenal improvement in the past six months.
In October, when he ran unplaced behind Seven Patriots at the Vaal, people would have thought you had lost your marbles if suggesting Stuart Pettigrew’s charge would progress to being a grade 1 horse.
Pettigrew has booked Ferraris to partner the gelding for the first time, so the 19-year-old knows he has a shout at the prize he would not have had if booked for one of the long shots.
In the Horse Chestnut, Sean Tarry has three runners, with Lyle Hewitson aboard Cirillo. With Ikigai having lost his form since his Gauteng Guineas win, it probably was not a tough choice as owner Chris van Niekerk’s five-year-old ran such a brilliant race in last season’s Champions Cup at Greyville.
Still, it is a stretch thinking Cirillo can topple Got The Greenlight, though he does have a better draw than the favourite.
The number one could possibly win every leg of the Pick Six — another with that number is MK’s Pride who is sure to start a hot favourite for the fifth race, the Man O’War Sprint.
Peter’s three-year-old is dropping back in trip and is likely to be given a run for his money by De Kock’s unbeaten colt Al Sakeet.
SATURDAY SELECTIONS FOR TURFFONTEIN
First race: (6) Rain In Holland (9) Take Control (4) Look Yourself (1) Buttercup
Second race: No selection
Third race: (4) Valetorio (2) Galactic Warrior (6) Royal Wolff (3) Crown Guardian
Fourth race: (4) True To Life (2) Eden Roc (7) Anna Capri (1) Chimichuri Run
Fifth race: (3) Al Sakeet (1) MK’s Pride (7) Celestial Love (2) Valyrian King
Sixth race: (1) Got The Greenlight (3) ExpressfromtheUS (2) Cirillo (8) Tierra Del Fuego
Seventh race: (1) War Of Athena (2) Netta (4) Sparkling Water (5) Ideal Jet
Eighth race: (1) Malmoos (2) Secret Base (4) Flying Carpet (8) Pamushana’s Pride
Ninth race: (5) Imperial Ruby (1) Atyaab (2) African Adventure (8) Tyrus Express
Tenth race: (9) Battle Force (4) Chief Of State (3) Sacred Arrow (7) Rock The Globe
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