FIVE feature races will be run on Guineas day at Turffontein and all the big races are tricky, with some runners having preparatory runs for bigger prizes later in the season and doubts about others’ wellbeing. NICCI GARNER and JACK MILNER chatted to the trainers about their runners’ prospects in the three Grade 2 races on the day, the R1-million Gauteng Guineas, the R500,000 Gauteng Fillies Guineas and the R300,000 Hawaii Stakes.
John Buckler (assistant trainer Mike de Kock): Checcetti (Acacia Handicap) is doing nicely and should be better suited to the “mile” this time. She is also nicely weighted. Europa Point (Acacia Handicap) is coming off a bit of a break but is very well at the moment. She’s had plenty work and is fit enough to win. Galileo’s Destiny (Hawaii Stakes) has had a long break and is going to need a run. Gibraltar Blue (Hawaii Stakes) has come back from Cape Town and is very well. She has a good draw and I think she will be a big runner over 1400m. I envisage a lot of pace in the race and she should be in the front. The straight course at the Vaal did not suit Kavanagh (Hawaii Stakes) last time he ran. He is a better horse around the turn. His work is very good at the moment and this is his best distance. He is the stable elect. Solo Traveller (Hawaii Stakes) is doing well with us. He is 4kg worse off with Kavanagh on their last meeting but needed that run. He gives the impression that he will need further. He will prefer the standside track this time as he is a big-striding horse. Bluroute (Fillies Guineas) is a nice filly, she’s drawn well and we’re expecting a good run. Last time she took on the colts and had to give them weight. I think Ilha Bella (Fillies Guineas) was unlucky not to win last time but this 1600m is a little too short. Despite that, I’m expecting a decent display. Unfortunately Salsabeel (Fillies Guineas)is drawn wide at No 12. She put up a good gallop with Bluroute the other day and on that effort, with the exception of the draw, it is hard to separate the two. Frontino Gold (Guineas reserve) is the second reserve and looks unlikely to make the field. Golden Chateau (Guineas) was coughing badly after his last run. He’s drawn well but I think a “mile” is a little on the short side for him. He will be running on. Governor General (Guineas) is doing very well since we brought him up from Durban. Unfortunately, he is drawn at No 16 and Johnny Geroudis will have to drop him out. If Johnny can get him midfield it would help. He is an experienced jockey and we will leave it up to him to use his discretion. Even if we do drop him out, he will be running on strongly. His last run was on the inside track, which I don’t believe suits him. He’s a horse I think will go further and we will look at the SA Classic with him. Red Barrel (Guineas) is coming back from a long rest and, more than likely, will need the run. And he’s drawn at No 17. Silver Flyer’s (Guineas) preparation suffered a setback when he developed colic coming back from Cape Town. He was in a clinic for just over a week and missed a lot of work. We’ve done what we can and we’re just hoping for the best. If he was at the top of his game, he would have been the first choice of the stable. Atyeb (Aquanaut Handicap) and Dunraven are very close on their last run. On work Atyeb looks a little better. He’s an out-and-out stayer and the conditions should suit him. Dunraven came through that race well. He and Atyeb are at level weights again so he must have a chance. Hawk’s Eye (Aquanaut Handicap) has come up from Cape Town and might just need this run. He gets a bit hot but we will know a lot more about him after the race.
Mike Azzie: The Hawaii Stakes is a difficult race, but both Lochlorien and Two Tone are very well. I’ll be happy if I make the frame. The winner will probably come from one of Mike de Kock’s horses – I’m leaning towards Solo Traveller, whose last run was great. I’ve always rated him highly and I think Mike has been prepping him especially for this race. Solarium (Fillies Guineas) is coming off a long rest – she had to have a knee operation. But she is very well in herself and has prepped well. If she’s not ring-rusty, she can make the frame. I think the Zimbabwe horse, Control Freak, has the best form, and I believe her times have been better than those recorded by Ipi Tombe before she came to South Africa. If she’s anything like Ipi Tombe, we’re all going to battle to beat her. I also rated Katy’s Lane a big threat, but she’s drawn badly. Potala Palace (Guineas) once again didn’t draw well (No 18) – he never seems to get a good draw in his Joburg races, so we wait with bated breath to see where he draws in the SA Classic, which along with the SA Derby, is his mission. Gavin (Lerena) must ride the race as he finds it because you can’t plan anything from that draw. We must get lucky. Plus, he’s bumping the Mike de Kock and Sean Tarry relay teams. In my opinion, the right horse in Mike’s yard might be Red Barrel, although he hasn’t run since the beginning of November. Sean holds a strong hand with his four runners, and I was impressed with the way Gavin van Zyl’s Slumdogmillionaire won both his races. His time in the Sea Cottage Stakes was slow, but all a horse can do is win, and he won well! We tried Masai Warrior (Aquanaut Handicap) in the Derby as a three-year-old and JP van der Merwe said he didn’t stay. Gavin is convinced he will stay so we’ll take our chances. He’s had a good preparation. Pylon (Race 3) is probably my best runner on the day. He ran a cracker last time out and Mr Ferraris rates the winner, Captain Vedici, very highly. We had his number – it was only inexperience that beat us in the end.
Sean Tarry: African Icon (Acacia Handicap) is slightly under sufferance at the weights and should just need the run. It’s a tough race. I’m hoping she places. Buy And Sell (Hawaii Stakes) should need the run, returning from a 113-day rest, but he’s well and will give a good account of himself, hopefully place. This is another tough race. Extra Zero (Fillies Guineas) is doing very well. She’s stretched at the “mile’’, but must have an Eachway chance. Hidden Beauty (Fillies Guineas) must also have a big chance if she sees out the distance. She’s bred for it, but has so much speed that it’s hard for me to imagine her being more effective at this type of distance than a sprint. We’ll see. Schooner and Tresco (Fillies Guineas reserves) are both more effective over 1800m. I’m hoping one or both will get into the field, which will give us a shot at the Triple Tiara. The two to beat are probably Katy’s Lane and the Zimbabwe horse, Control Freak. E-Jet (Guineas) is drawn poorly. He needed his last run very badly and has come on a lot. I think he’ll be running on when others have cried enough. Heavy Metal (Guineas) has got a bit to do with Pomodoro at the weights, but has a good draw in his favour and the race might pan out well for him. Both Pomodoro and Whiteline Fever are good horses and have enjoyed perfect preparations. I give Pomodoro a big chance and Whiteline Fever, from a good draw, must be a huge runner. This was to be the start of Baracah’s (Guineas reserve) Triple Crown bid but, that said, he would probably need the run because he got a virus and we had to pull him out of work. All my runners at the meeting have chances.
Ormond Ferraris: Hawker Hunter (Acacia Handicap) is lightly raced but is above average. Her runs have been pretty good and I’ll be disappointed if she doesn’t run a big race – I’ve put Richard Fourie up. I think George Scott’s horse, Without Malice, will be hard to beat. We’ve had a shower just about every day and the going is going to be quite soft, which will be in Snowdon’s (Hawaii Stakes) favour because he likes the sting out of the ground. He got a big lift (five points, 2.5kg) for beating Kavanagh last time out, but he’s a reliable, genuine horse. He’s my best on the day. We’re trying Mary’s Pride (Fillies Guineas) round the turn and there has to be a little bit of a question mark about stamina. But she seems to be relaxing better in her races now and, being by Jet Master, could enjoy the distance. We’ve put blinkers on Straw Market (Guineas) because he’s a very laid-back horse. Nothing worries him – you could put a cracker behind him and he wouldn’t stir. His last run was disappointing, but I wasn’t expecting much. I told (JP van der Merwe) to give him a chance – and he had a canter, so hopefully you can write that run off. He’s not at all coltish and he should get ground, although you’ve got to ride him with a bit of patience. The dangers, I’d say, have to be one of the De Kock runners – he’s the form trainer – as well as Tarry’s Whiteline Fever. I don’t know too much about Slumdogmillionaire, but he’s won two from two and must be above average. It’s taken 18 months for Magical’s (Aquanaut Handicap) merit rating to start dropping after the handicappers gave him such a lift for his second in Summer Cup. But horses can get bit sour to the game and by time the handicappers start dropping them, they can have lost their best ability. This is probably why, as soon as a good horse starts to show, it gets sold. Magical has come on a bit and we’re putting the blinkers back on because he’s also laid back. I’m still hoping to crack a big race with this one.
Gavin van Zyl: Shadows In The Sun (Fillies Guineas) didn’t run too badly in the Three Troikas Stakes, finishing fourth behind Go Indigo, Extra Zero and Awesome Beauty, and I’m hoping the 1600m will be better suited to her. She’s a long-striding filly and was keeping on at the end on the inside track. She hasn’t fully matured strength-wise and if she can improve on her Three Troikas effort, then she can run on into the money. Slumdogmillionaire (Guineas) is galloping well. We’re happy with his prep and are hoping for him to build on his last win (1800m) and be right there. Obviously the 1600m is a bit of a question mark – further would be better. But he’s a super horse. He’s got all the courage of a good horse and he’s going to run to his maximum ability. If he can win this race, he’s a serious contender for the Triple Crown. This is the hurdle. Brooks-Club (Guineas) was fractious in the starting stalls, jumped sideways and ended up little out of his ground on the near bend when he finished fifth behind Pomodoro in the Tony Ruffel Stakes last time out. He has improved and worked well in his gallop last Saturday. He will finish very well. Tandragee (Guineas) is not a “miler” and I’m not expecting fireworks. The dangers? Every other horse in the race! These races are always hard to win and one has to be optimistic, but cautiously so because the potential champs are all in there and we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We can only hope that we are one of those potential champs – and that we’re the best on the day.
Weiho Marwing: Louvre (Acacia Handicap) has done well (two wins and two places from her last four starts) and her work has been good. I’m pretty happy she’ll run another decent race. Moroccan (Hawaii Stakes) is going further now and is not well drawn at No 13, but he’s fit and well and I’m hoping for a good run. Uptothemoon (Fillies Guineas) is a nice filly, but she’s drawn badly, which will make it difficult. How she does in this race will determine whether she runs in the SA Fillies Classic. Beacon Flare (Guineas) has come back to himself since being gelded. He’s very well and I’m hoping for a big run. He’ll be going for the SA Classic and SA Derby. Perpetual Song (Aquanaut Handicap) stays well. He was disappointing last time out, but I’m hoping for a better run from him. The racing is very competitive and my runners will be out there trying their hardest.
Saeed Mohideen: Zambucca (Guineas) is very well and I think he’ll give a good account of himself. His dangers? I race for them to beat me and don’t worry about anybody else.
Joe Soma: I was very disappointed with Wagner’s (Guineas) last run (he finished fifth behind Super Trouper over 1400m at the Vaal). I can’t offer any explanation for it. If you take that run out of the equation, he’s a horse who will be very competitive. He’s trying 1600m for the first time but I’m expecting a very nice run from him. Although I don’t think there’ll be more than three to four lengths between the lot of them, the only horse I fear is Silver Flyer, if he is fit and well after getting colic on the way back from Cape Town.
Lisa Harris: Control Freak (Fillies Guineas) travelled down from Harare very well. She’s been in South Africa since 8 February. She’s lightened up, but she’s a light-framed filly and I’m happy with her. There’s a lot on the line, here – not least her unbeaten record. We consider her the “underdog” and I’d be less scared if she wasn’t the favourite!
Tyrone Zackey: Katy’s Lane (Fillies Guineas) is a good filly – her record speaks for itself – and she means everything to me. But she is drawn badly at No 17 and I couldn’t prepare her as well as I wanted to because there were no races available excepting the 1450m Three Troika’s Stakes three weeks ago – and she wasn’t quite ready then. There’s no point in running a horse who is not there yet. She’s a good horse, I’ve done my best and I’m hoping for the best.
Leon Erasmus: Go Indigo (Fillies Guineas) is a hellava nice filly – well above average. But she’s drawn wide and a bad draw can sink you. That said, she is very well. Her preparation so far has been good and she’s looking well. I’m looking forward to the race. There are a number of dangers, headed up by Extra Zero, who finished second to her last time out but has a better draw this time which could make a big difference. It will depend on the early pace. With a couple of hundred metres to get across, if they go fast she’ll be fine.
Kumaran Naidoo: Awesome Beauty (Fillies Guineas) could not be contacted.
Robbie Sage: Kalami and Mount Carmel’s (Fillies Guineas) preparations have been fine. Their race figures aren’t really in our favour, but if you’ve got horses who can get into these races, you must take your chances. They are both fillies who will improve with racing and both will be looking for a bit further later on in their careers.
Dianne Stenger: Rose Garden (Fillies Guineas) will be doing her best. It’s a competitive field and she’s drawn at No 11, but she’s got a lot of heart. Control Freak hasn’t put a foot wrong and is our obvious danger. Hopefully nothing else!
Gary Alexander: Pierre Jourdan’s (Hawaii Stakes) preparation is going very well. We’ve had no setbacks till now. But he isn’t stripped for this race because we need him to come on for the Horse Chestnut Stakes. In my opinion he’ll need the run but the main thing is to overcome the draw. Sean Cormack will have to be a bit patient in the early part of the race and let him run at them. He’ll give a good account of himself, though – as will Rebel Knight (Hawaii Stakes), who needed his last run, when third behind Snowdon and Kavanagh. He has come on a lot since that run, which came after a four-month rest, and he is course-and-distance suited. He’s in with an Eachway shout. This will be Arabian Mist’s (Hawaii Stakes) last race. We’re going to try and use him as a pacesetter – if he can get out of the pens fast enough! He’s been bit disappointing in his last couple of starts. He’s been just going through the motions and has lost his zest for it. So we’re looking to retire him after this race. He’s far out at the weights but has run well over this distance and course, and you never know. He might run well in his swansong! I think Snowdon and Kavanagh are dangerous. They are racing fit and this race seems to be their main mission. And if it carries on raining, you cannot discount Dancewiththedevil. She’s five lengths better in the soft.
St John Gray: Dancewiththedevil (Hawaii Stakes) has come along nicely. We’re aiming her at the bigger races later in the season, but we’ve got to start somewhere. This will be her first run for three months and she’s not at her peak, plus the 1400m is obviously on the sharp side for her. She’ll run a nice race. I’m hoping the ground will come up a bit soft.