Mike Moon: Ace jockey Anton Marcus flies from his Durban base to Cape Town tomorrow for just one ride at the Kenilworth meeting – and perhaps the hint should be taken.
He partners Heaven’s Embrace for trainer Brett Crawford – as part of his renewed contract with owners Ridgemont Highlands – and there are enough factors in favour of him coming away with the main prize in Race 6, a FM 72 Handicap over 1600m.
Marcus has already been keeping his side of the retainer bargain with wins in Cape Town, while his win-to-runs rate in tandem with Crawford is a remarkable 30%-plus. So, the human form is there.
Horse and rider also have a tick to their names, with Marcus having partnered Heaven’s Embrace to a win in her very first outing, at Durbanville, in October last year.
Since then this three-year-old filly has won again, over tomorrow’s course and distance, and has been in the money in both her subsequent starts. Those efforts were over more ground and she might enjoy the drop back to 1600m at this early stage in her career.
By Jackson out of the top race mare Overarching, Heaven’s Embrace has pure class in her veins.
One red flag about her is a draw in the No 10 stall in a field of 15, but if anyone knows how to overcome that disadvantage it is “Superman” Marcus, who has steered home many a winner from impossibly wide draws at Kenilworth.
A second concern is the top weight of 60kg – particularly as a three-year-old facing older horses. But she has earned her 77 merit rating and can overcome that – again with significant aid from the saddle.
There are several opponents ready to make the filly run for her money.
Champion trainer Justin Snaith saddles three of them – Dancing Sally, Chakri and Fortune Flies and all must be considered for Trifectas and Quartets – and larger Pick 6 perms.
Stable rider Richard Fourie gets on Fortune Flies, a Dynasty filly who looks a better horse than her last two unplaced runs might indicate.
Near the bottom of the weights, Piet Steyn’s runner Hammie’s Fan is consistent and should be considered by punters looking for upset material.
The top-rated event on the card is Race 7, a MR 79 Handicap over 2500m, and a number of runners familiar to one go the long slog once more. It is one of those fields where you would imagine 10 runnings would deliver 10 rather different results.
However, Parade March, from the Glen Kotzen stable, is an improving stayer who has won over this trip and looks well in at the weights. Morne Winnaar rides from the No 1 draw.
Candice Bass-Robinson-trained Celestial Prince carries a feathery 50kg with apprentice Liam Tarentaal on his back and could spring a surprise.
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