Ken Nicol: Top sprint filly Sommerlied could well be on course to take on the boys in the Grade 1 Cape Flying Championship after an emphatic win in the Laisserfaire Stakes at Kenilworth on Saturday.
Fillies have a decent recent record in the Cape’s only Grade 1 sprint, as Sabine Plattner’s champion Laisserfaire won the 1000m race a decade ago, while in more recent times Dennis Drier’s charge Val De Ra and Duncan Howells-trained Via Afrika have taken the title back to KwaZulu-Natal.
While Drier-trained four-year-old Sommerlied has a long way to go to reach those elite levels, her conditioner is very open about how highly he rates her and is not one to turn his geese into swans.
With only six starts behind her, she has ample scope for improvement and has already won twice against males, defeating Sergeant Hardy and Brutal Force in the process, both of whom are likely to line up against her on Sun Met Day.
The Drier yard had got off to what has become a traditional slow start to the Cape campaign, but he broke his duck in style as the always prominent Var filly asserted inside the final 200m to score by a relatively comfortable neck.
Justin Snaith’s highly promising three-year-old Casual Diamond was far from disgraced in second and is another with a bright future.
Sommerlied’s win rounded off a great day for Maine Chance Farms-bred females as their regally bred Princess Vicky had earlier scored a fluent win in a competitive-looking maiden. Stud Racing Manager Glen Hatt said the diminutive first produce of Princess Victoria “will be given time”, indicating she won’t be rushed into top-level company before she is ready.
The other undoubted highlight of the day was a Pinnacle Stakes over 1400m in which the majority of the nine contestants will probably take their places in the Sun Met on 27 January.
The race turned into a triumph for trainer Brett Crawford as he saddled the first four past the post for the first time in his career. Edict Of Nantes was an impressive winner, despite racing three wide, followed by fellow Grade 1 winners Sail South and Captain America. Less heralded pacemaker Black Cat Back ran out of his skin in this company to fill fourth spot.
Winter Series Triple Crown winner African Night Sky also made a pleasing comeback, staying on into fifth 1.75 lengths behind.