Habib stable holds a strong hand in Turffontein marathon
Trainer targets first place in Racing Association Stakes with a trio of runners
Trainer Fabian Habib will travel to Turffontein on Saturday knowing he holds the aces in the main event — the R85,000 Racing Association Stakes over the marathon trip of 2,600m.
Habib is a fairly new addition to the training ranks and was granted his licence in March 2018. He celebrated his 37th birthday last week and will be looking to take Saturday’s first prize of R51,000 with one of his trio of runners: Out Of Your League, Apollo Robbins and Orus Apollo.
Out Of Your League is the highest merit-rated horse in the field, which is no surprise as he delighted his connections by winning the grade 1 SA Derby last June. Habib’s owners love to have a punt, so the gelding’s starting price of 45-1 tells the story that it was a surprise success.
Judged on his excellent third behind Nebraas in the Gold Cup at Greyville, Out Of Your League should gain the sixth win of his career, but the stable has backup in five-year-old Apollo Robbins.
A son of Master Of My Fate, Apollo Robbins will carry just 49.5kg as a result of the claim of his apprentice rider Philasande Mxoli. The five-year-old is 7.5kg better off with White Fang compared with their clash in mid-July.
Habib’s third representative, Orus Apollo, has proved he stays this marathon trip, but may battle to beat his stablemates.
S’manga Khumalo is keeping Warren Kennedy in his sights in the jockeys’ log and he is in the saddle on White Fang, on whom he has notched up three wins and a second this year. He will be out to spoil the party for Habib.
One of the most interesting races on the Turffontein card is the sixth, which looks to be a three-cornered contest between Shangani, Iron Will and Back To Black.
When a horse misses the whole of his three-year-old career it sends up a red flag indicating he or she must have had their issues. This is the case with Shangani, a R250,000 son of Soft Falling Rain and a member of the powerful Paul Peter team.
Shangani — named after a river in Zimbabwe — made an impressive debut at Turffontein three weeks ago, skating home six lengths clear of his nearest rival. Little wonder he has been priced up favourite for Saturday’s sixth race.
Candice Dawson’s three-year-old Iron Will rates the danger to Shangani, though the trainer warns in Winning Form that the grey “may just need the run”. Lyle Hewitson rides the son of Flower Alley for the first time.
The majority of horses owned by John Finlayson pay their way and that is the case with his four-year-old Back To Black. Formerly with Dorrie Sham but now in the care of Roy Magner, the gelding has earned close to R200,000.
Gavin Lerena has been booked for the ride on Back To Black, and swingers with Shangani could prove a good bet. One man interested in this race will be trainer Stuart Pettigrew who bought Shangani’s half-sister (by Flower Alley) for R100,000 at the recent August Two Year Old Sale.
Lerena will be aboard another fancied runner in Reunion in the seventh race with the son of Flower Alley looking to complete a hat-trick. The four year-old’s earlier defeats when favourite means he is a horse who comes with risks and he might battle to give 7kg to Sean Tarry’s runner Willow’s Wish.
This R150,000 son of Willow Magic is on the upgrade and the colt stepped up into handicap company in style in August beating Clouds Of Witness by nearly three lengths.
Habib has a live candidate in this race in Twin Turbo with Kennedy an eye-catching booking for another son of Flower Alley, Twin Turbo. The gelding has won three of his past five starts.
1st Race: (7) Icy Night (2) Forgotten Time (1) Ra'ed (4) On The Warpath
2nd Race: (3) Bonnaroo (8) Veneta (5) Manhattan (2) Baby Dont Hurt Me
3rd Race: (1) Sicilian Tiger (2) Maraca Ginger (4) Covert Operator (6) London Roads
4th Race: (3) Bella Chica (2) Greens (5) Seemyvision (1) Before The Dawn
5th Race: (9) Clafoutis (4) Beltway (5) Magic To The Fore (7) Constantia Haze
6th Race: (3) Shangani (9) Iron Will (5) Back To Black (4) Bold Resolve
7th Race: (8) Willow's Wish (1) Reunion (9) Twin Turbo (4) Trend Master
8th Race: (1) Out Of Your League (4) Apollo Robbins (3) White Fang (5) Barak
9th Race: (2) Verinova (3) Miss Magician (4) Big Eyed Girl (5) Zodiac Princess
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