The R1-million World Sports Betting Champions Cup has the hallmarks of a race that could go down as one of the greatest thoroughbred clashes in South African racing history.
This Grade 1 race over 1800m at Greyville on the first day of the two-day Gold Cup Festival Of Racing has brought together a group of the best horses in the country, including four Grade 1 winners who could all make their mark on the international stage.
The Champions Cup heads Saturday’s nine-race card while the Grade 3 eLan Gold Cup over 3200m, the Premiers Champion Stakes and Thekwini Stakes for fillies, both Grade 1 events over 1600m with prize money of R750,000 each, head up Sunday’s 10-race card at the same venue.
Marinaresco has already put his name in the record books by winning the Vodacom Durban July under 60kg this month, but could become only the second horse this century to win the Champions Cup in two successive years. The only other horse to do so was Futura in 2014 and 2015.
The four-year-old son of Silvano is not well drawn but he will be dropped out early on so it won’t make much of a difference.
Brett Crawford-trained Captain America thrashed the opposition in the Grade 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge and while he has not won over further than 1600m is rarely far off them over this sort of distance.
Capable of upsetting all her opponents and also from the Cape is brilliant Dynasty filly Bela-Bela from the Justin Snaith stable, who was a facile winner of the Grade 1 Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes. This is expected to be her last run before being retired to stud. Her impressive record includes victory in the Grade 1 Paddock Stakes at Kenilworth at the beginning of the year.
Add to that Grade 1 Premier’s Champion Challenge winner Deo Juvente, from the Geoff Woodruff stable. After winning that Turffontein race over 2000m he was withdrawn from the Durban July because of the weight he would be allocated. The Woodruff yard is renowned for producing winners of big races and this Trippi gelding will be a major contender in this race.
The surprise winner of the Grade 2 Betting World 1900 at Greyville earlier in the season, Ten Gun Salute from the Duncan Howells yard, is also among the runners and his disappointing unplaced run in the Vodacom Durban July is best ignored as he suffered major interference in the running.
With other well-performed runners like It’s My Turn, Sail South, Judicial (last year’s runner-up), Matador Man and Black Arthur also in the field, this race could be the highlight of the weekend and the season as they fight out what should be a thrilling finish. – Gold Circle
Final field for the R1-million World Sports Betting Champions Cup (Grade 1) over 1800m
1 – 10 CAPTAIN AMERICA (B Crawford) C Orffer 60.0 – 118
2 – 12 MARINARESCO (C Bass-Robinson) B Fayd’Herbe 60.0 – 118
3 – 11 DEO JUVENTE (G V Woodruff) C Murray 60.0 – 115
4 – 4 IT’S MY TURN (S J Snaith) P Strydom 60.0 – 106
5 – 7 SAIL SOUTH (B Crawford) R Fourie 58.0 – 114
6 – 9 BRAZUCA (J J van Vuuren) G Lerena 58.0 – 107
7 – 2 TEN GUN SALUTE (D C Howells) W Marwing 58.0 – 106
8 – 6 JUDICIAL (T Zackey) C Zackey 58.0 – 105
9 – 3 BLACK ARTHUR (S J Snaith) G van Niekerk 58.0 – 104
10 – 8 BELA-BELA (S J Snaith) A Delpech 57.5 – 112
11 – 5 TABLE BAY (J Ramsden) A Marcus 56.5 – 109
12 – 1 MATADOR MAN (S G Tarry) S Khumalo 56.5 – 100
Same Trainer: (1,5) (4,9,10)