Jack Milner: Trainer Mike de Kock sends three horses to Greyville on Friday night to contest the Grade 2 KRA Guineas and KRA Fillies Guineas, both over 1600m.
Soqrat and Alyaasaat will line up against the colts but although they are two top horses, they both will need to contend with wide draws.
The problem is that over this distance at Greyville, low-number barrier positions are a great advantage.
However, Soqrat has proven himself to be the best three-year-old miler in the land and can probably lay claims to being the best in any age-group.
From a good draw he would be very hard to beat, especially as he has a good record at Greyville. He won the Grade 1 Premiers Champion Stakes, beating Alyaasaat by two lengths, and in the previous event – the Grade 2 Golden Horseshoe over 1400m, he needed just one more stride to get the better of stablemate Barahin.
Randall Simons has ridden this Australian-bred son of Epaulette in all of his nine starts and has a record of five wins, two seconds and two third. He knows the horse well but will have to pull out all stops to win from the widest draw.
“He is the best horse in the race but from No 13 draw, he will need a lot of luck in running. The problem is that there is no other race for him between now and the Rising Sun Gold Challenge, so there is no other option for us,” explained Mathew de Kock, assistant to his father, Mike.
Alyaasaat went off the boil after gelding but is starting to regain his form, winning his last race which was an Assessment Plate over 1400m at the Vaal.
“He won a good race last time and it seems to me he is back to his best,” said De Kock. “His work is good but from No 11 draw is also won’t be easy for him.”
Fortunately, Bernard Fayd’Herbe is in the irons and he might be able to work his magic.
Soqrat is still the pick to win this race but there are two obvious dangers in National Park and Twist Of Fate. The former is based in Port Elizabeth but showed his talent when winning the Grade 2 Gauteng Guineas, beating Hawwaam by 2.70 lengths.
That day Yvette Bremner’s charge had the good draw and Hawwaam was drawn No 15. However, this time he drawn No 9 which is not that great either.
Trainer Joey Ramsden will have to be bullish about the chances of Twist Of Fate because he ran a 1.25-length second behind Soqrat in the Cape Guineas and tonight he is drawn No 1.
That draw is one of the reasons De Kock is so bullish about the chances of Nafaayes in the Fillies Guineas. She drawn No 2 and comes into this race in top condition. She won the Gauteng Fillies Guineas, finished second to Return Flight in the Grade 1 SA Fillies Classic and a 1.20-length third behind Camphoratus in the Grade 1 Empress Club Stakes.
“She is fit, is working well and is really in a good place,” said De Kock. “From that draw she has a massive advantage. The key is how they travel.”
Front And Centre is the horse to beat on paper but she jumps from No 15 draw. Anton Marcus will have to get lucky if he is to win this.
Others to consider are Celtic Sea, who also has a good draw, Running Brave and Santa Clara, who is drawn at No 12.
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