Jack Milner: The scratching of Hawwaam from Race 7, a Pinnacle Stakes over 1400m up the Vaal straight on Thursday has paved the way for Cirillo to win his warm-up run ahead of the summer season in both Joburg and the Western Cape.
Hawwaam did everything asked of him in a Pinnacle Stakes over 1200m last Thursday and trainer Mike de Kock felt the single week between the two races was insufficient time for him to recover fully.
Hopefully, if African Horse Sickness does not affect his travel plans, this son of Silvano is heading off to Cape Town to take on the best in the land. His mission is to contest the Grade 1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate over 1600m and the Grade 1 Sun Met over 2000m.
Cirillo has not visited the No 1 box since winning the R5-million CTS 1200 at Kenilworth last year but has he ever run some amazing races.
He pushed Soqrat all the way to the line in the Grade 1 HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes over 1600m at Turffontein in March, was beaten just 0.35 lengths in the Grade 2 Drill Hall Stakes over 1400m at Greyville, pressed Do It Again when a 0.50-length runner-up in the Grade 1 Gold Challenge and then finished a 2.15-length third to Rainbow Bridge and Soqrat in the Grade 1 Champions Cup over 1800m.
That form is against the best in the country and as he the best handicapped runner by at least 2.5kg, this four-year-old son of Pomodoro looks impossible to oppose.
As he has not raced since the Champions Cup on 27 July, fitness could be a concern, but as we saw last week with Celtic Sea, who had been out of action for the same length of time, Sean Tarry does not send unfit horses to the racecourse. He won with ease and one expects Cirillo to put up a similar performance this time.
Piere Strydom takes the ride.
The main threat could come from Zouaves who loves this distance. In eight races over 1400m he has won twice, finished second on three occasions and run third once. His best performance over the distance no doubt came this year when he won the Grade 2 Hawaii Stakes, beating Cascapedia and Soqrat into second and third place respectively.
Captain Aldo is now the second-best handicapped runner and after some disappointing runs in the first half of the year, St John Gray’s runner showed a slight return to form when fourth behind Hawwaam last week. He will enjoy the additional 200m and will be ridden by S’manga Khumalo, who, just like his mount, has started to show his best form of late.
One could also consider Tarry’s other runner, Tierra Del Fuego, who although not well handicapped, was impressive in his first run after a rest which he won by 4.25 lengths. He could run into the placings so add into Trifectas and Quartets.