Phumelela is offering scrumptious fare at Turffontein tomorrow when the country’s most poignant race will be run, the Peermont Emperors Palace Charity Mile. Sixteen charities will go home with a cheque for at least R50,000, depending on where their horse finished in the R1-million race, with the biggest prize being R150,000 to the charity associated with the winner of the Charity Mile. Five other feature races will be run at the meeting. Here’s what the trainers think of their runners’ prospects.
Race 7 – R1-million PEERMONT EMPERORS PALACE CHARITY MILE 1600m (Grade 2)
Mike Azzie: Hat Puntano is exceptionally well and worked well. I am expecting a much improved run from him.
Gavin van Zyl: Bella Sonata is in her toughest race to date. She has a wide draw to overcome but will give a good account of herself.
Gary Alexander: Top Shot is in a strong field but has a place chance.
Johan Janse van Vuuren: I was a little disappointed with New Predator’s run in the Joburg Spring Challenge when he finished fourth behind Wonderwall because he was specifically prepared for that race. He may have needed that run a little bit more than I though. The Charity Mile was not part of his programme initially because of the weight but Gavin Lerena suggested we have a crack, especially because the nominations did not look as competitive as the last couple of years. I think his main dangers are the horses with lower weights who find themselves in form, especially Paul Peter-trained Forest Fox, even though he is 0.5kg out at the weights on merit ratings. I have never seen a yard turning out winners like Paul right now – it’s incredible the form they are in. He must have a good chance of winning if things go his way. We’ve been battling to get Irish Pride’s blood where it’s supposed to be and I think it’s slightly better for this race than his last two runs. Whether is good enough, we’ll find out on the day.
Paul Peter: Forest Fox is doing very well, he’s working well, everything is on track. He definitely should be in the placings. I’m not worried about the course. He’s won over 1600m at Turffontein and also ran in the Guineas behind Harry’s Son so the track and trip is not a concern. However, we do need to overcome a bit of a wide draw so we will need some luck in running. Gavin Lerena can’t make the weight so we have given the ride to Ryan Munger who came out and worked him the other day. He was happy with the work and it looked as if they jelled. Of course, only the race will tell us.
Sean Tarry: Finchatton has had a perfect prep. I’m happy with everything but a poor draw hasn’t helped. This is a big step up for Social Order but I think he will cope. He’s fit and well, at least has a good draw and galloping weight. French Navy has done little wrong since fitted with the tongue tie. He may need the run but wouldn’t be surprised if he was there at the finish, although the Sansui Summer Cup is his mission. Tahini had a prep run the other day and has come on but faces a tough task. Tilbury Fort is prepping for the Summer Cup and should need the run but should be finishing well.
Geoff Woodruff: The race looks a lottery and I am happy to saddle Go Direct up for it.
Race 5 – R2,5-million EMPERORS PALACE READY TO RUN CUP sponsored by CTS 1400m
Mathew de Kock for Mike de Kock: Puget Sound is fit and well and must have a chance. Takingthepeace has a bad draw to overcome but I do think she has a good Eachway chance. Onamission is well drawn, fit and well and is looking good at home.
Robbie Sage: Boatswain tries a bit further and is badly drawn.
Gavin van Zyl: Vicomte ran a nice race over 1000m last time out and was running on. He is trying further and will hopefully place. Just My Style takes on a stronger field.
Gary Alexander: Riding Shotgun and Cash Time are in a strong field. Hopefully they give good accounts of themselves.
Sean Tarry: Wonderwall has had the perfect prep and he brings good enough toe into this race. And then the draw knocks the wind out of your sail. But that’s my story for the day. Big Bear has had a lovely prep and should be competitive from the draw. This run might just be coming a bit soon for Purple Diamond because he’s not as fit as other two but will be running on nicely.
Race 4 – R250,000 YELLOWWOOD HANDICAP 1800m (Grade 3)
Mike Azzie: Shatoosh is trying this longer distance for the first time. I am hoping she earns money.
Candice Dawson: Royal Utopia is doing well. She is up in class but I am hopeful of a good run.
Mathew de Kock for Mike de Kock: Cascapedia did not like the soft going. She will be a blinker strike for this race.
Sean Tarry: Kahula is traveling up from Durban where she has done well. She is fit and we will be trying to sneak in some Black Type. Tambalang is well drawn, course and distance and has everything in her favour. She will need to just about win this if she is to qualify for the Summer Cup.
Geoff Woodruff: Al Danza likes the track and is okay for the distance. Dropped back in handicap company she can run well. Bi Pot loves this track and distance and should be right there at the finish. Guns And Roses has good form against weaker.
Race 6 – R250,000 PRINCESS CHARLENE STARLING STAKES 1400m (Grade 3)
Mathew de Kock for Mike De Kock: Silver Thursday is doing well and won a nice race last time out. She is in a stronger race but should run very well.
Mike Azzie: Spring Breeze is to be ridden by Piere Strydom who chose her ahead of my stable companion so she must have a chance. Mrs O is my preference and I make her a big runner.
Candice Dawson: Varsity Girl is doing well. She takes on stronger but I am hoping she gives a good account of herself.
Gavin van Zyl: Mar Del Sur was a good second behind Silver Thursday last time out so must have a chance. I am expecting her to be in the first three.
Sean Tarry: Unfortunately Aurelia Cotta is drawn in Wembley Stadium. She ended up far back last time but finished off well. I’m expecting a good run but she’s drawn in the bush. La Bastide’s an honest filly and obviously got beaten by a very good filly (Cashal Palace) last time. Has to step up here but might be in with a shout.
Race 8 – R250,000 GRAHAM BECK STAKES 1400m (Grade 3)
Gavin van Zyl: Flying Free is the better of my two runners for this race and I am expecting a top-three finish. Borya is in his toughest race to date and has a very bad draw.
Mathew de Kock for Mike de Kock: Hakeem has made lots of improvement at home but has a wide draw to overcome.
Mike Azzie: Full Mast is not well drawn but could finish in the money. Ideal Secret is sometimes slow away so will need to jump on terms but is not without a chance. Orpheus is a big runner.
Barend Botes: Darkest Hour has a good draw and has won twice over this distance.
Robbie Sage: Seerite is in a tough race bit I am hoping to see him finishing very strongly.
Sean Tarry: Keanan’s Rock needed his comeback run. He will strip a lot fitter, has a fair draw and should be finishing well. Zerodarkthirty might need the run so quickly after having been gelded. Has a nice draw and I think the distance will suit. Will be finishing well. Wonderous Climber is another drawn in the bush and I think he’s looking for further. He’s a nice horse and if we can negate the draw we will be finishing well. Missouri is very much the same. Also drawn in the bush. He ran a good race to get up came from a long way back. It was against much weaker but was still a run full of merit, even though he was getting lots of weight from the runner-up. Silver God was highly regarded by the stable last season. The blinkers might not have suited in his comeback run. This 1400m is a bit sharp but should be finishing strongly.
Race 9 – R150,000 GOLDEN LOOM HANDICAP 1000m (Listed)
Mike Azzie: Rivarine is having his first run since being gelded. I expect him to need this run. Splendid Garden has a big weight but hopefully he can earn some money. Isphan is his own worst enemy. If he is in the mood he could run well.
Mathew de Kock for Mike de Kock: Alfolk is in a good space and has a good Eachway chance.
Sean Tarry: Barrack Street had one of his testicles removed after his last run. Work is very good and he’s in with a shout.
Clint Binda: Premier Show must have quite a good chance in this field. Stop And Stare will need his debut.
Mathew de Kock for Mike de Kock: Buffalo Bill Cody is having his first run. He is a smart horse but we must keep in mind that being bred in the Northern Hemisphere he is six months behind. If not too green he should run a decent race.
Candice Dawson: Infamous Fox is doing well at home. If not too green I expect him to give a good account of himself.
Sean Tarry: Mighty Valdie will be having his first run for the yard. His form seems quite good and should be competitive although may he prefer 1400m. It’s a starting point but I think he will be right there.
Paul Matchett: Lily Starlette might find this distance a bit short of her best.
Brian Wiid: Atomic Kitten is likely to be green and may need further.
Candice Dawson: Ensemble is working well. She could be competitive once again.
Stanley Ferreira: Nautic Spirit can be competitive in a competitive field.
Gary Alexander: Saragon is having her first run and is likely to be green and need further.
Mathew de Kock for Mike de Kock: Shufoog is smart but a bit temperamental. She should run a good race.
Sean Tarry: New Zealand should be right there in the money with an outside chance of winning but we all have to beat the De Kock hottie in the race (Shufoog).
Clint Binda: Romani ran a much-improved race in a weak field last time. Hopefully she continues to improve.
Gary Alexander: Banana Republic has a good Eachway chance.
Brian Wiid: Neverletugo is likely to be green and will need further.
Shaylen Naidoo: Twentyfourkmagic is looking for this experience to bring her on.
Sean Tarry: I hope Hafla shows a bit more pace this time. She can’t give that kind of start and hope to win. I will be stepping her up in distance after this but she’s not without a chance.
Clint Binda: Whorly Whorly needs to run. He has a big weight but is not out of it. Dragoon takes on stronger so let us see how he does.
Gavin van Zyl: Arianos Bagofgold was not disgraced last time out and I am hoping for a first-three finish.
Nathan Kotzen: Cumulus is working well and is fit and sound so I am hoping for at least a place. His owner asked me to run him in Gauteng.
Mathew de Kock for Mike de Kock: Mujaafy is doing very well. A good run from him is expected.
Paul Matchett: Master Boulder is in a tough race so I am not expecting much
Sean Tarry: I think Torre Del Oro will be competitive in this field although the De Kock horse is the one I am scared of. He had good win last time.
Candice Dawson: Judd’s Rocket is doing nicely so I am expecting him to give a good account of himself
Brian Wiid: National Aim is racing under lights for the first time which is not ideal but must have some sort of a chance.
Gary Alexander: The Bee Eff Gee has a good place chance.
Sean Tarry: Sky High is a nice type of horse. He probably wants a lot more ground but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the cash.
Gary Alexander: Aerobatic has a place chance.
Paul Matchett: All Eyes On You will need the run.
Mathew de Kock for Mike de Kock: Balustrade is showing good work at home but is a very big filly so she will come on from this run.
Candice Dawson: Inthepurplerain did a show last time out so I believe we can ignore that run and a better run from her is expected.
Sean Tarry: Of Interest wants further but could be in the money.