Nicci Garner: Just two of the runners in Thursday night’s R400,000 Victory Moon Stakes are not entered for the Gauteng Sansui Summer Cup on 25 November and it stands to reason that the trainers of those horses most likely to get into that Grade 1 race will not be looking to win this Grade 3 race.
Half the Victory Moon Stakes field would make the final cut in the Summer Cup, according to the latest log, but one of them, Matador Man, seems unlikely to accept for that R2-million race.
His trainer Sean Tarry does not believe he will get the tough Turffontein 2000m and indicated the Charity Mile last Saturday or the Victory Moon Stakes would be his summer mission. He missed the Charity Mile so perhaps this is the race he has been primed for – although Tarry did say yesterday in Racing Express: “I think this obviously will decide whether we want to go for the Summer Cup.”
Matador Man is not that well drawn at No 12 but likes to have something to run at, so that should not be the end of the world. He might be good Eachway value.
Robbie Sage-trained Coral Fever did not act in the yielding going last time out but won the Jubilee Handicap over this course and distance under a similar light weight in June in his penultimate start and could capitalise again.
On race ratings, both Matador Man and Coral Fever have a bit to find with horses like the mares Witchcraft, Girl On The Run (a horse kicked off the Summer Cup log), Fort Ember and Orchid Island, as well as Matador Man’s stable companion Liege.
Of them, Fort Ember might be the most forward. She arguably hit the front a split second too soon when second to Kilauea over 1600m on the Inside track last time out. Witchcraft never really got into the race, her first following a layoff, and finished ninth.
Exquisite Touch looks unlikely to start at generous odds but must be the one to beat in the R150,000 Gardenia Stakes over 1000m. She looks a banker in the Pick 6 MegaPool that is expected to reach R1.5-million.
The Sean Tarry-trained four-year-old has excellent sprint form, with five wins from her eight career starts, the last three on the trot.
The first of those was in the Bauhinia Handicap over this course and distance, where she beat Joan Ranger by 1.25 lengths, form that worked out exceptionally well. She followed up with a 3.20-length success over Green Pepper in the Man O’War Stakes over 1100m here and, then rested, made a winning return in a 1000m Pinnacle Stakes over 1000m at the Vaal.
The Thinker was only fifth behind Graduation Day in the Golden Loom Handicap last Saturday, but Exquisite Touch will be fitter for that run and should confirm the ratings, which show she is at least a length superior to her closest rival, Wrecking Ball. Take the Exactas 1×2.
There are a few other top-class horses running at the meeting, although Horse Of The Year Legal Eagle might find his stable companion, dual Grade 1 winner Bull Valley, too fleet of foot over 1160m in Race 3 and Secret Star could give Grade 1 Empress Club Stakes winner Nother Russia a bit of a fright in Race 5.