Picture: 123RF/CHRIS VAN LENNEP
Picture: 123RF/CHRIS VAN LENNEP

With questions surrounding the three top runners in Saturday’s R2m WSB Summer Cup at Turffontein, the right route might be to support a horse who was never far away in last season’s big three-year-old races.

That horse is Second Base — the subject of sustained support this week — who is looking to continue the fine form of Johan Janse van Vuuren’s stable. In the first three months of the season, the yard had 15 winners from just 86 runners — an outstanding strike rate.

Last term Second Base was right there in a number of top events — notably two lengths behind Malmoos when second in the SA Classic and two and a half lengths behind Linebacker when fifth in the Daily News 2000.

On Saturday Raymond Danielson’s mount will be 4kg better off with Malmoos, but Mike de Kock’s colt has drawn in pole position while Second Base is out wide at gate 15.

The question about both Malmoos and Got The Green Light is that both finished surprisingly far (five lengths) behind Bingwa in the Steelrode Mile. Yes, they probably still needed the outing but their supporters will have been surprised they were beaten so far.

That said, trainer De Kock has been winning Summer Cups with the regularity that Gary Player won majors. So if Malmoos takes the R1.2m first cheque it would be no surprise.

One pundit this week questioned whether Got The Green Light might be “past his peak”. He does have to shoulder top-weight of 60kg so the five-year-old faces no easy task and has been relatively friendless in the antepost market.

Which brings us to War Of Athena, who has been the subject of sustained support. No big surprise if she chalked up the 11th win of her career — she comes to the party all the time, which is why she has a legion of fans.

However, this is only the second time the daughter of Act Of War has taken on males and her comeback run this term was only three weeks ago. The possibility remains of a flat run in her second start following a rest.

With Bingwa and Al Muthana — a costly failure in the Steelrode — unproven over 2,000m, the likelihood of an upset looks remote. However, bookmaker Lance Michael’s call this week that Sean Tarry’s Seehaam is the best long-shot has plenty of merit.

Seehaam beat Sparkling Water five lengths in the Jacaranda Handicap in March and, more recently, finished fifth of 15 behind Bingwa in the former Charity Mile. It is worth remembering that Tree Tumbo — another Tarry runner — ran third last year but finished out with the washing in the Victory Moon.

This column has been sweet on Sparkling Water for a while (particularly when one could get 7-1 a place) but the widest draw of all tempers a lot of enthusiasm. De Kock has kept faith with Kabelo Matsunyane — will the youngster, who has little big race experience, be up to the task?

In the final analysis, Second Base is selected to win ahead of War Of Athena, Malmoos and Sparkling Water.

There are a number of exciting supporting races — not least the grade 2 Ipi Tombe Stakes where Rain In Holland is firm favourite to score for Tarry and Grant van Niekerk.

However, this writer was in the UK recently and — watching in a Henley betting shop — one had to be impressed with the performance of Candice Dawson’s filly Perfect Witness. She can give the favourite a real run for her money.

Clafoutis is in the same race and after a four lengths win on her fourth start punters must be nonplussed that she was never a factor when favourite in the race won by Follow Me.

If punters are to get a slice of the estimated R12m Pick Six pool, they are somehow going to have to find the winner of the 16-strong WSB Merchants in which half the field can be given chances.

While grade 1 winner Pearl Of Asia has to be on everyone’s shortlist, a runner who could go well off a lightweight is another of Act Of War’s progeny, Bartholdi. The Azzie team will fit the blinkers to the four-year-old.

Dennis Drier’s raiders always deserve close scrutiny and perhaps Cartel Captain — third behind Rio Querari in the Diadem Stakes in February — can get a blow in for Raymond Danielson a couple of hours ahead of the big race.

SELECTIONS

WSB SUMMER CUP

1. (6) SECOND BASE

2. (3) WAR OF ATHENA

3. (2) MALMOOS

4. (12) SPARKLING WATER

1st Race: (3) Angelsea (6) Bellevarde (4) Run For Isla (5) Thunder Shower

2nd Race: (9) Abayyaan (1) Magnum P I (4) Secret Link (5) Master Of Coin

3rd Race: (3) Forever Mine (6) Sound Of Summer (8) Donald McDonald (5) Pack Leader

4th Race: (15) Lucy English (10) Sound Of Warning (7) Big Burn (9) Sheela

5th Race: (14) Bartholdi (7) Cartel Captain (1) Pearl Of Asia (4) MK’s Pride

6th Race: (5) Aragosta (1) Pyromaniac (2) Safe Passage (4) Castletown

7th Race: (9) Perfect Witness (8) Rain In Holland (3) Bold Fortune (10) Clafoutis

9th Race: (6) Smoking Hot (3) Marchingontogether (5) Dream Destiny (10) Barak

10th Race: (1) Clarkson (2) Knightflight (7) Apache Gold (6) Flashy Apache

LATEST CUP BETTING

(Supplied by bookmaker Lance Michael)

5-2 War Of Athena

4-1 Malmoos

13-2 Got The Green Light

9-1 Second Base

11-1 Al Muthana

15-1 Puerto Manzano

16-1 Bingwa

20-1 Shango

22-1 Others

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