Jack Milner: It’s summertime, the sun is shining and Turffontein Racecourse is the place to be tomorrow with the running of the R2-million G-Bets Gauteng Summer Cup.
There are 12 races carded, six of them features, a Pick 6 pool estimated to reach R7.5 million.
You could also witness history being made as trainer Mike de Kock is looking to win this Grade 1 feature over 2000m on the Standside track for a record 10th time.
The last time he won was with Flirtation in 2010 when Randall Simons was first past the post on Costa Livanos’ runner.
And it is the same combination of trainer, jockey and owner who could bring the stable its 10th Summer Cup victory.
Noble Secret was just below the best of the three-year-olds last season but he placed in all three legs of the Triple Crown at Turffontein. He was beaten by the likes of Monks Hood, Lobo Legend and Surcharge (now called Yulong Prince) but as De Kock pointed out, “all of them have now left the country”.
De Kock wisely gave Noble Secret a break during the winter and he came back looking in fine fettle in an Assessment Plate over 1600m which he won with ease.
He then contested the Grade 2 Joburg Spring Challenge over 1450m which was far too short for him and from the widest draw, he flew up late to finish fifth, just 2.90 lengths behind the winner.
Noble Secret ran in the Charity Mile in his next start and a big run was forecast but for the first time, he let his supporters down, although he was beaten just 4.90 lengths.
Jockey Simons said his mount felt flat during the race De Kock as another take on that run. “These days 1600m is just too short for him so ignore the run. They sprinted away from him but he was cutting them back at the death. Any rain prior to the race will be in his favour.”
De Kock is a master at getting his runners spot on for a big race and that is sure to happen with Noble Secret. With just 52kg on his back he could prove hard to beat.
The one concern is No 15 draw but if you are going to be drawn wide for a big race there is no better place than over 2000m at Turffontein. Riders have 800m of straight before they hit the turn which is cambered, and then they have a good 700m testing straight to make up the ground.
The biggest dangers could come from his two stable companions – Takingthepeace and Cascapedia. Both love this course and have light weights and good draws. Takingthepeace, however, is 4.5kg worse with Like A Panther from their Victory Moon run as she does not get the sex allowance in the Summer Cup.
“Cascapedia has had two very good runs coming into this race without getting a penalty. She’s got a good weight and a good draw,” said De Kock
Others with chances are top weight Coral Fever, Like A Panther, Sabina’s Dynasty and SA Oaks winner Secret Potion. She beat Cascapedia in a Pinnacle Stakes over 1600m and they meet at the same weight differential. Both will benefit from the additional 400m.
“After she won the Oaks I figured she would be my Summer Cup horse,” said Woodruff, “but it was fully confirmed when she beat Cascapedia.”
Muzi Yeni has a great rapport with Coral Fever and despite the Robbie Sage-trained runner having to carry top weight of 60kg, Yeni remains optimistic about his mount’s chances. “He’s earned the weight,” he said. “He’s won a Grade 1 and a Grade 2 over the course and distance. “He did well to win the Charity Mile and will be even better over this distance.”
Sabina’s Dynasty arrived on the Highveld as a maiden and has won four races, including the Grade 2 Gerald Rosenberg over the course and distance. Piere Strydom will put up 1kg overweight but with No 1 draw, Paul Peter’s charge must have a chance.