Picture: GETTY IMAGES/IAN FORSYTH
Picture: GETTY IMAGES/IAN FORSYTH

If racehorses could choose which stable they could join, probably a good number would opt for the Cape yard of Mike Stewart. Not only would they be in the care of one of the best horsemen in the country, but it’s just a short walk to picturesque Noordhoek beach.

Allowing horses to wade in seawater is therapeutic for those with problems and Stewart is renowned for nursing charges back to soundness when their careers had looked at an end.

Of course, even a heavenly setting like Stewart’s Dunes stables has not escaped curved balls life can throw your way and there was a tragedy there in 2010. A groom drowned after falling off his horse and disappearing under the waves.

This Saturday Stewart travels to Kenilworth with a real chance of capturing two grade 3 races with his female runners Pretty Betty and Icon Princess.

Most of the headlines in the Cape go the way of trainer Justin Snaith and he will regain the trainers crown after the Hollywoodbets meeting on July 31.

In the grade 3 Final Fling Stakes, Stewart saddles Pretty Betty who has reeled off four wins in succession. On two occasions, jockey Louis Mxothwa has been in the saddle and he will be bidding to keep his 100% record on the daughter of Master Of My Fate in this 1,800m contest.

Not surprisingly, the Snaith challenge is a formidable one with a trio of runners who are all capable of taking the R60,000 first cheque. Stable jockey Richard Fourie is usually on the stable elect and there is plenty to like about Sleeping Single who is 2.5kg better off with Pretty Betty compared with their clash in the Ladies Mile.

It is perhaps a surprise that one has to go back to August 2019 for Sleeping Single’s last win. She is regally bred being by Australia, one of five Epsom Derby winners sired by recently deceased Galileo.

Rain In Newmarket is in fine form and may shade stablemate Major Attraction whose past three wins have all been over 1,400m. This is the first time the three-year-old daughter of Vercingetorix has tackled this longer trip.

When it comes to horsemanship, Paddy Kruyer is coupled with Stewart which is why his runner Eva Eileen warrants close examination. Her merit rating is only five points inferior to Sleeping Single and two points less than Rain In Newmarket.

In the grade 3 Champagne Stakes, Stewart is represented by Icon Princess who has proved a stable stalwart with six wins from 26 starts. However, the four-year-old has to put behind her a disappointing run behind Capitana last time out. Interviewed on Tellytrack, her trainer did say the race was a prep run for this grade 3 race, but even so it was a surprise to see her beaten six lengths.

That form suggests Brett Crawford has a good chance of taking top honours with Capitana who also has Galileo in her pedigree as her dam, Exotic, is a daughter of Aidan O'Brien's former star.

Candice Bass-Robinson is represented by Lemon Delight and Iris, and the latter, the mount of Callan Murray, is preferred of the pair.

Full marks to Kenilworth Racing for naming the final event on Saturday’s card “In Memory of Charlie Koster”. The death of the flamboyant breeder has come as a shock to many people and Grant Knowles got it right when saying on Tellytrack:  “SA racing has lost one of its favourite sons.”

It was this writer’s good fortune to enjoy many “bevvies” with Charlie at horse sales and — apart from his natural talent with young horses — his presence brightened up any occasion.

On the subject of refreshments, Mike and Ingrid Stewart serve up a decent red wine at their Dunes residence and hopefully they will be toasting a grade 3 win on Saturday night.

KENILWORTH SELECTIONS

FINAL FLING STAKES

1. (8) Pretty Betty

2. (1) Sleeping Single

3. (6) Rain In Newmarket

4. (4) Eva Eileen

CHAMPAGNE STAKES

1. (2) Capitana

2. (1) Icon Princess

3. (5) Iris

4. (3) Phil’s Dancer

CHARLIE KOSTER HANDICAP

1. (5) All About Al

2. (4) T’Challa

3. (7) Fort Red

4. (2) Izapha

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