The KwaZulu-Natal Champions Season is in full swing and the final fields for Saturday’s four Grade 1 sprint races have finally been published – where each race promises a cracker finish.
If you blink, especially in the Grade 1 Tsogo Sun Sprint over 1200m, you may miss the action because 16 of South Africa’s best speedsters will contest the R1-million showpiece at Scottsville racecourse.
Johan Janse van Vuuren has never made a secret of the fact that he rates Mardi Gras highly, and has told anybody who would listen that this contest is the son of Oratorio’s main mission this season.
Mardi Gras has formed a very successful relationship with jockey Randall Simons – winning three of four starts together – and was on an impressive three-run winning streak prior to finishing a disappointing fourth in a Listed last time.
He is obviously far better than that performance suggests. Mardi Gras is also no stranger to Pietermaritzburg, where he was an impressive 0.30-length victor over this course and distance in January.
Trainer Brett Crawford sends out a four-pronged attack – Undercover Agent, Search Party, Sunset Eyes and defending champion Bold Respect, who made an absolute mockery of rivals when a flawless 1.75-length winner in this contest last year.
Bold Respect comes into this race shouldering 56.5kg and gets the services of the in-form Anton Marcus.
He has been consistent for the most part since and you can’t really fault him on his most recent result when finishing no more than 2.30 lengths behind speeding sensation Kasimir in the Grade 2 Khaya Stables Diadem Stakes.
Stable companion Undercover Agent recently outsmarted Sun Met winner Rainbow Bridge and although 1200m could prove a touch too short, he won over this distance in late 2018 and could be the joker in the pack.
This contest has been very kind to trainer Sean Tarry – winning with Bull Valley in 2017 – and he saddles three capable contenders in Trip To Heaven, Chimichuri Run and Africa Rising.
On the ComputaForm Sprint result, Chimichuri Run, who finished 3.05 lengths ahead of stable companion Trip To Heaven looks the right choice. This son of Trippi has finished third behind quality thoroughbreds in his last three attempts and conquered both starts over 1200m by a combined nine lengths prior.
Many have believed that Snowdance is a far better sprinter than she is a miler so Justin Snaith’s charge is likely to have many supporters when she contests the South African Fillies Sprint.
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