Jack Milner: The main attraction at Turffontein on Saturday is the return of Heavenly Blue.
Last year’s Grade 1 SA Classic champion travelled all the way to Cape Town in January to participate in the Sun Met at Kenilworth but he and travelling companion Cascapedia were hit with some sort of disease that left the pair at death’s door. Fortunately, both survived the experience and have returned to racing.
Cascapedia was being prepared to run in the Vodacom Durban July before she was struck with a virus of sorts ahead of the Jubilee Handicap and was pulled out of both events. They have now been entered into the Grade 1 World Sports Betting Champions Cup over 1800m at Greyville on Saturday 28 July.
Saturday’s run is obviously part of his preparation for the Durban race so it will be interesting to see how Heavenly Blue performs when he lines up in Race 2, a MR 104 Handicap over 2000m on the Standside track.
With a merit rating of 112 Heavenly Blue is carded to carry 64kg but trainer Mike de Kock attempted to negate that by engaging talented apprentice Luke Ferraris, who would have taken 4kg off his back.
Unfortunately, Ferraris has been stood down and at the time of writing no replacement had been announced.
Heavenly Blue is likely to be in need of the run as he has not raced since 7 January when he finished a 4.40-length sixth behind Ideal Secret. That run was his first since finishing third behind Al Sahem in the SA Derby at Turffontein in May 2017.
As a result, it may be better to go with Top Shot who, although up in class, did run a decent race last time when a 1.20-length second behind Gambado. The advantage of taking on stronger opposition as that it brings about a commensurate drop in the weights and Gary Alexander’s charge comes into this race with just 53kg on his back, 7.5kg less than he carried against Gambado.
Top Shot will also have a decent apprentice in the irons in Dennis Schwarz, but he no longer claims an allowance.
Mike Azzie sends out Arctica who has placed in his last two starts. Two runs back he contested the Grade 3 Jubilee Handicap and finished a 1.55-length third behind Yakeen, despite suffering some interference 300m from home.
Last time he was beaten 0.50 lengths by Divine Odyssey in a Pinnacle Stakes over 1600m and a lot will depend on how he handles 2000m for the first time. Apprentice Lyle Hewitson takes the ride.
Bankable Teddy is in good form and could also go close, especially if one considers that all three of his wins have been over this distance.