Due to restrictions placed on the Handicappers, the exciting and unbeaten Rainbow Bridge is officially rated inferior to almost half the entries for the Grade 3 Highlands Stud Winter Classic over 1800m at Kenilworth on Saturday 26 May, when racing is due to return to the Winter Course.
Yet Chris Gerber’s Ideal World gelding seems sure to start favourite to become the fifth horse in six seasons to complete the Winter Guineas-Winter Classic double.
He put up a truly eye-catching performance in the Winter Guineas only three weeks after winning his first start.
Backed from 16-1 to half those odds, he was patiently ridden until 400m out when was asked to quicken. He accelerated from the back to lead about 50m out and win pulling up after barely seeing his rider’s whip.
Richard Fourie promptly said: “It’s not every day you get to ride a champion but this is a top horse.”
Eric Sands said he was not going to rush him just for the sake of going for the Winter Classic but, having spoken to the owner, he has since confirmed the horse as a runner and commented. “He is a very special horse and he pulled up well from the Winter Guineas.”
Those taking him on again are likely to include Selangor winner Rocket Countdown, who was a 1.25-length second in the Winter Guineas and is one of four entries for Candice Bass-Robinson, whose second season as a full trainer is proving every bit as successful as her first.
Justin Snaith has won three of the last six runnings of the Winter Classic and his entries are Doublemint, who won the Grade 3 BMW Politician Stakes before finishing fourth in the Winter Guineas, and Love Happens, who was third.
Fresnaye, third in Grade 1 company in both the Cape Fillies Guineas and the Paddock Stakes but below par in the Winter Guineas, is the only filly among the 16 entries.
Rainbow Bridge has on the face of it drawn badly but on the Winter Course the runners often swing wide at the final turn to make for the sometimes-faster ground on the stand side.
Entries and draws for the R250,000 Highlands Stud Winter Classic (Grade 3) over 1800m at Kenilworth on Saturday 26 May.
5 ROCKET COUNTDOWN (C Bass-Robinson) 59.0
11 DOUBLEMINT (S J Snaith) 58.0
15 RAINBOW BRIDGE (A E Sands) 58.0
13 ANCESTRY (J Ramsden) 57.0
1 BALLAD OF THE SEA (C Bass-Robinson) 57.0
4 BEN-HUR (C Bass-Robinson) 57.0
8 CHATUCHAK (W A Nel) 57.0
12 EARL OF WARWICK (B Crawford) 57.0
3 GIMMIE A COHIBA (B Crawford) 57.0
9 GREENSTREETTRACTOR (B Crawford) 57.0
7 LOVE HAPPENS (S J Snaith) 57.0
14 MAN ABOUT TOWN (P Steyn) 57.0
2 MORNING CATCH (J Ramsden) 57.0
10 PACIFIC CHESTNUT (C Bass-Robinson) 57.0
16 SPRING MAN (B Crawford) 57.0
6 FRESNAYE (J Ramsden) 54.5