Jack Milner: The hunt is on for horses to earn their berths in the Grade 1 Gauteng Summer Cup and Sean Tarry has brought a few of his challengers out to race at Turffontein on Tuesday, when racing is on the Inside track.
Although he is unbeaten in three starts and is well related to a Grade 1 winner, Al Mutawakel languishes among the “also rans” in the bottom pool of the first log released for the R2-million race over 2000m at Turffontein on Saturday 30 November.
He is a full brother to Grade 1 SA Derby winner Al Sahem, a horse who as a three-year-old was touched off in both the Grade 1 Daily News 2000 and the Grade 1 Vodacom Durban July. As a result, Al Mutawakel has a big reputation and would add marketing value to the Summer Cup but he first has to prove his worthiness.
All three wins have turned out to be strong form lines with winners coming from all of them. His last run was on 30 June and it appears Tarry has found the ideal race to bring him back from a rest, a MR 96 Handicap over 1600m on the Inside track.
Tarry does not bring unfit horses to the course, so despite the break, this son of Silvano will be fit enough to win and should do so in a field not filled with top horses.
On recent form, Seattle Force looks the main threat but although he is unbeaten at this track, Stuart Pettigrew’s charge would prefer an extra 200m at least to help his cause.
Therefore, the main threat could come from Mike and Adam Azzie-trained Greek Fire who will be suited to the course and distance. He appears to have had his issues but he came back from a six-month break and ran well enough to finish a 5.25-length fourth over 1450m on the Vaal Classic track.
This will be Al Mutawakel’s first run at this track but based on his running style the tighter course should not impede him in any way. He is well drawn at No 4 and has Raymond Danielson in the irons.
Tarry has also Zillzaal running in Race 7 on Tuesday, a Graduation Plate over 1600m.
Although only a one-time winner, this son of Silvano did run second in the SA Derby and fourth in the SA Classic, both Grade 1 races and as a result, is currently in 12th place on the Summer Cup log.
Before he went off to Hong Kong, champion jockey Lyle Hewitson said Zillzaal needed gelding and now that it had happened, we should see the best of him.
Piere Strydom takes the ride tomorrow and Zillzaal is by far the best-handicapped runner. However, he could find 1600m on this track a bit sharp and that should make Approach Control hard to beat. Candice Dawson’s charge is also a Summer Cup entry but he lies precariously at No 20 so another win or two should cement his chances.