It is a tricky time of the year for the top trainers hoping to win Johannesburg’s most prestigious race, the G-Bets Summer Cup, and three-time South African champion trainer Sean Tarry said his yard’s final team would depend on who was on track in terms of fitness and who would have had the smoothest preparations.
Trainers also have to be mindful of the horses’ merit ratings with the first aim being to have it high enough to get into the race but low enough to be able to win off.
Tarry’s 10 entries for the Summer Cup are not prominent in the betting and, in discussing them, he started off with last year’s winner Liege, who is quoted at 25-1 with the sponsor
“He didn’t go in firing last year so probably needs to be prepared in a certain way and probably wants two easier runs before the Summer Cup, so we are looking at a similar route to last year,” said Tarry.
“If I can get a run into him early he will then go for the Victory Moon or otherwise it will be the Charity Mile and the Victory Moon. He suffered lung issues between last year’s Summer Cup and the July but is now doing well.”
Liege won the Summer Cup last year off a 99 merit rating and is now rated 108, which is competitive considering there was an across-the-board merit rating raise of six points for all horses in March this year.
The 103 merit-rated Tilbury Fort is a 20-1 shot and Tarry said, “We will probably go for the Charity Mile and then straight into the Summer Cup. He won a really good race in his first run after gelding so looks to go well fresh.”
The 106 merit-rated Social Order, a 35-1 shot, ran a 4.8-length fourth on Saturday in an Asessment Plate carrying 61kg.
Tarry said, “He gave away a lot of weight over a distance too short and ran on well.”
The Charity Mile and the Victory Moon are options for Social Order, who ran a disappointing 12th last season but later ran a close third to Coral Fever in the Grade 2 Colorado King Stakes over the same course and distance. He enjoys the long straight and appears to enjoy some cut in the ground.
Tarry said of the 103 merit-rated five-year-old mare Safe Harbour, whose last run was a decent 6.35-length fifth in the Champions Challenge over course and distance: “She had a wind operation and has come back very well so the operation seems to have worked. She is a filly who does very well in Cape Town but if we do go for the Summer Cup before going to Cape Town she will have one preparation run first.” She is quoted at 35-1.
Silver God stayed on well on to win the aforementioned Assessment Plate over 1450m on Saturday carrying 57.5kg. He is bred in the purple, being by Silvano and a half-brother to Grade 1 winners William Longsword and Real Princess.
Tarry said: “He needed the gelding which wasn’t an easy decision considering the pedigree. If you look at his three-year-old campaign he was always thereabouts regardless of the distance, so we don’t know quite what his distance range is. But he definitely needs at least a mile or 1800m.”
On Saturday his run built up gradually and he gave the impression he would stay the 2000m. However, he still has a bit to do to get into the Summer Cup as he ran off a mere 93 merit rating on Saturday. He is 35-1 with G-Bets.
French Navy, who won both the Grade 1 SA Classic and Grade 1 Daily News 2000 as a three-year-old, is now a seven-year-old gelding and Tarry said: “He is an old soldier and hadn’t really had a break so we decided to give Durban a miss. He has come back well but we will need to be careful where to prep him off his 101 merit rating.” He is 55-1.
Bulleting Home (66-1) is also a seven-year-old and is merit rated 107. Tarry said: “I had been so happy with him but unfortunately he then ran two ordinary races. In the Champions Cup he pulled so that can be ignored and then, last time over 1400m on the Poly, he missed the break, was run off his feet and then stayed on tamely so that was maybe a bit quick for him. The Charity Mile might be a nice race for him.”
Warrior’s Rest looks good value at 80-1, although is currently merit rated only 91 so has a lot to still do to get in. Tarry said this big horse had trimmed down a bit since gelding.
He continued: “He has got the earlier form and needed gelding. He needed his first run back desperately so it was important to get that run into him. I will nominate him for the Charity Mile and the Assessment Plates will also be good for him as he is only a one-time winner. It was stop-start with him last season, he needed gelding and never got into a rhythm. He is a big boy so I would rather be sure and have an extra run or two but his next run is going to tell us a lot.”
He said of 100-1 shot Chariot Of Gold: “The mile was too sharp for her on Saturday, I will look to run her in the Yellowwood or an Assessment Plate. She’s a good filly but her rating (87) is some way off the mark.”
And another 100-1 shot, Tambalang? “I always rated her and she got away with a feature win but she lost her sparkle. Maybe her programme was too busy, and we rested her. She has come the right way and she will run in a Pinnacle or the Yellowwood.” – David Thiselton, Gold Circle