Picture: JEFF GRIFFITH/UNSPLASH
Picture: JEFF GRIFFITH/UNSPLASH

Mouth-watering — that’s the best description of Saturday’s clash between top performers Summer Pudding, Malmoos and Got The Greenlight in the 4Racing Premier’s Champions Challenge at Turffontein.

The tragedy is that this grade 1 event will be held behind closed doors, but racing fans throughout the country will be glued to their TV sets to see who comes out on top.

With Summer Pudding and Malmoos both unbeaten at the city track and Got The Greenlight a winner of four grade 1 races, the three runners go to post boasting outstanding form at the top level.

From a tipster’s point of view it’s not a race for anyone to sit on the fence and having supported Malmoos through each of his Triple Crown races, Mike de Kock’s three-year-old gets my vote to beat Got The Greenlight and Summer Pudding.

Of course, it’s the view of De Kock that punters want to hear. On Thursday, he told Business Day: “We’ve had a long season but I really believe he’s on the up — I’m leaning towards Got The Greenlight as the one to beat.”

De Kock and Luke Ferraris have not put a foot wrong since the colt’s return to the highveld, not only capturing the Triple Crown but the R2m bonus into the bargain. The son of Captain Al heads the market for the Vodacom Durban July on July 3, but the eight-time champion trainer has warned it is no certainty that he will make the trip to Durban. It would be unwise to place an ante-post bet.

The July is definitely the target for Got The Greenlight, who gave Belgarion a run for his money in the 2020 race. It has been a good year for 33-year-old jockey Muzi Yeni and he will be more than happy to bank the jockey’s percentage of Saturday’s first purse of R450,000.

After her win in the Empress Club Stakes on April 17 — her ninth at Turffontein — trainer Paul Peter told the media he was thinking of “skipping” the Challenge as he felt the race might come too soon.

However, after consulting with the filly’s owners, there has been a rethink. On Monday, Peter said: “She came through her last race extremely well. Normally, she takes races a lot harder, but this time she had no problem.”

Even so — to use an oft-used criminal term — that still raises a “red flag”. Both Malmoos and Got The Greenlight have had four weeks to recover from their last outing.

It is going to be an intriguing tactical battle between champion Warren Kennedy, Yeni and Ferraris. There are no stamina limitations about the trio so Ferraris might again make an early move as he did in the Derby.

The other six contestants in this 2,000m event may as well stay at home. However, the fourth cheque is worth R37,500 and this placing may be fought out by stablemates Cirillo and Tierra Del Fuego.

Perhaps the best way to bet on the race is to take the exacta. For example, if you are one of Summer Pudding’s many fans, take her to win from Malmoos and her to win from Got The Greenlight. It will be a surprise if the exacta doesn’t pay at least R4.

S’manga Khumalo is facing an enforced holiday, but he has strong chances on Sheela (SA Nursery) and Don’t Look Back (Gold Bowl). His main rival in the latter race is Got The Greenlight’s stablemate African Adventure.

The popular jockey should also not be far away on Eyes On Tiger in the Work Riders versus Jockeys Challenge which brings down the curtain on the 10-race card. South Boy is the selection — another good mount for Yeni.

Sunday’s racing at HollywoodbetsGreyville will throw plenty of light on the forthcoming big races in KwaZulu-Natal — the Guineas will reveal if Kommetdieding is the superstar many believe him to be. It will be worth watching The Gatekeeper’s run carefully — his Cape Derby third suggests he could go well in the July.

Gavin Lerena will be delighted he has a good draw on Catch Twentytwo in the Drill Hall Stakes — the stablemate of Summer Pudding looks worth a serious bet judged on his close second to Malmoos in the Gauteng Guineas.

Selections

1st Race: (3) Winter With Jo (1) Fisher King (5) Happy And Glorious (2) Noble Striker

2nd Race: (11) Battle Force (2) Ikigai (1) ExpressfromtheUS (9) Full Mast

3rd Race: (9) Under Your Spell (7) Shield Of Roses (5) Heavens Girl (1) Cold Fact

4th Race: (9) Sheela (6) Smorgasbord (2) Pyromaniac (3) Retallick

5th Race: (2) Gallic Princess (8) Sweet Future (9) Celestial Love (5) Tropic Sun

6th Race: (1) Running Brave (4) Seehaam (6) Sparkling Water (2) Kelpie

7th Race: (2) Rio Querari (4) Russet Air (6) Bohica (9) True To Life

8th Race: (8) Malmoos (1) Got The Greenlight (7) Summer Pudding (2) Cirillo

9th Race: (5) Don't Look Back (1)  African Adventure (7) Smoking Hot (6) Odd Rob

10th Race: (8) South Boy (1) Eyes On Tiger (14) I Dream Of Genie (2) Lazy Guy

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