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Picture: 123RF
Picture: 123RF

With Charles Dickens out of the equation, the WSB Met, scheduled for January 28, could end up being one of the best races of the season from a betting perspective.

The sponsors of the grade 1 race, World Sports Betting, have Jet Dark (7-2) and Kommetdieding (4-1) at the top of the market. This column’s advice — don’t touch these prices, for the following reasons:

  • The price of a number of horses could shorten in the run-up to the race, notably the three Saturday winners Al Muthana, Make It Snappy and Rascallion. Add in Durban July victor Sparkling Crown, who finished just two lengths behind Make It Snappy in the Cartier Paddock Stakes.
  • As in big races in the UK, such as the Derby and Grand National, bookmakers will want to lure punters with special offers on the fancied contenders.
  • It will be worth checking out the tote prices as the race draws near. Hopefully, the tote dividend will be close to the official starting price which wasn’t the case last Saturday. Al Muthana’s starting price was 80-1 but the tote payout was only R47.

One of the intriguing questions is whether Kommetdieding can raise his game to win this race for the second consecutive year. He has failed to add to that success in his seven outings since that triumph.

His supporters will point out that, on King’s Plate running, he has only 0.30 of a length to find with Jet Dark. That is presumably why the Justin Snaith inmate is the narrow favourite.

While there were only 11 runners, Kommetdieding and Jet Dark didn’t have favourable draws in the King’s Plate. With a maximum field expected in the Met, the draw will thus be vital for these two horses.

Little consolation

One man praying Gavin Lerena can partner Kommetdieding to a second Met win is breeder John Koster. The son of Elusive Fort has been syndicated to stand at his Klawervlei Stud.

Jet Dark added R190,000 to his bankroll on Saturday but that will be little consolation to owners Tommy Crowe and Nic Jonsson. Do they regret passing up the chance to run in the Breeders Cup when deciding to decline the offer after winning last season’s Queen’s Plate?

When asked by friends who they should back last Saturday, my answer was Rascallion. He has been given time to get over his injury and is trained by a master, Vaughan Marshall.

Business Day readers will know the R350,000 son of Vercingetorix was this column’s selection for the 2021 July when this writer could have afforded six months in Bermuda had he won.

With the Premier Trophy just his third run back since his return from injury, the five-year-old will head for the Met fresher than most and this column cannot see him missing the first four. The quartet always pays well in big races and the gelding is a must-inclusion in that bet.

Regarding Al Muthana, when Ricky Maingard won the Queen’s Plate with Wolf Power in 1984 the grey went on to take the J&B Met.

The Crawford camp’s decision to run Paddock Stakes winner Make It Snappy is an interesting call as she has only contested five races and will be trying 2,000m for the first time.

Ran third

The three-year-old’s dam, Icy Winter Air, is out of the mare Icy Air, Equus champion three-year-old in 2002 who won nine races from 1,400m-2,450m. Her most notable offspring is champion sprinter Russet Air.

Her daughter Icy Winter Air won over 1,200m and ran third in the SA Fillies Nursery. As Saturday’s win by Make It Snappy was over 1,800m she has only 200m more to travel in the Met.

Given her great finishing run in the Fillies Guineas, Glen Kotzen will be bemused by Hold My Hand’s poor performance in the Paddock Stakes. A veterinary examination failed to detect anything amiss.

The word is that the stable are confident of a big run from Count Casey though her current price of 7-1 is decidedly skinny.

Sparkling Water’s fifth in the Paddock Stakes — beaten two lengths — will be viewed as a positive performance by trainer Mike de Kock. She is another Met runner — now on offer at 9-1 — whose price could shorten in the next fortnight.

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