‘Eagle’ has Met at his mercy
SOUTH Africa is all set for probably the greatest racing day in its history on January 28 at Kenilworth and the lucrative card is headed by the Gr 1 R5 million Sun Met.
A quality field of fifteen was announced for the Met and adding spice was the declaration of legendary jockey Frankie Dettori to ride the Joey Ramsden-trained Vodacom Durban July winner The Conglomerate.
The reigning Equus Horse Of The Year Legal Eagle is one of six horses who will be carrying a 2kg Gr 1 penalty.
The five-year-old gelding is probably at his very best over a mile, but is comfortable over this 2 000m trip too, so considering his good early pace, his exceptional turn of foot and ability to find another gear when challenged, he will be hard to beat.
Mac De Lago, The Conglomerate, Marinaresco, It’s My Turn and Bela-Bela are the others carrying Gr 1 penalties.
Mac De Lago
Mac De Lago was beaten 3,9 lengths by Legal Eagle in the Gr 1 Premier’s Champions Challenge over 2 000m and is now 2kg worse off.
The Conglomerate was receiving 4kg from Mac De Lago in the July and beat him by only 2,25 lengths, so he also looks held.
This is confirmed by his failure to win the Gr 1 handicap, the Sansui Summer Cup, off a merit rating of 106.
Marinaresco disappointed in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate, but comes from a yard who are renowned for peaking their charges for their target races.
The Met is this horse’s right trip and he has a massive chance when considering his July run where he came from an impossible position to lose by only 0,25 lengths.
Bela-Bela finished three lengths behind Smart Call in last year’s Gr 1 Maine Chance Paddock Stakes over 1 800m and the latter went on to beat Legal Eagle by 3,5 lengths in the Met.
In her only previous run against the boys she finished a 2,65 length sixth in the July and if weight for age is taken into account is now effectively 3,5kg better off with The Conglomerate.
It’s My Turn was a comfortable winner of last year’s Gr 1 Investec Cape Derby over course and distance and has enjoyed a fine preparation.
He should be coming into his own being a four-year-old gelding by Dynasty and with expected further improvement from his 2,4 length third in the Gr 2 Peninsula Handicap he should make his presence felt.
However, Whisky Baron could well be the main danger to Legal Eagle.
He has improved continuously since gelding and his comfortable win in the Peninsula suggested that he is still unexposed. He receives 2kg from the favourite and will be a big threat.
Captain America is an honest sort who has 4,5 lengths to make up on Legal Eagle from last year’s race.
However, he will be getting a 2kg pull in his favour as his only Gr 1 win happened more than 18 months ago.
The dark horse is undoubtedly Gold Standard, who is the only three-year-old in the race. He finished 0,5 lengths behind William Longsword in the Gr 1 Grand Parade Cape Guineas and this big and bold pair were not 3,25 lengths clear of the rest of the field by fluke. Gold Standard should relish the 2000m trip on pedigree.
French Navy has plenty of class and, as his Gr 1 win was more than 18 months ago, he is now 2kg better off with Legal Eagle for a 2,1 length beating in the Premier’s Champions Challenge.
Brazuca was a 3,8 length fifth in the Peninsula and faces Whisky Baron on the same terms.
However, he will now be having his third run after a rest and is 2kg better off with Its My Turn for a two length beating in last year’s Cape Derby.
Baritone had a curtailed SA Champions Season and the best might not yet have been seen of him.
Cape Speed, Mambo Mime and MacDuff are all decent sorts and distance suited, but they would need to step up on their form to be factors. 1 000m trip. Hard-knocking Osculation will have a good chance here too. However, there are many first-timers here and the one who makes appeal is Successfilly, who is by Var and is a half-sister to the useful Frosty Friday.
She has a high draw which is advantageous by trends on this track.
Gunship and Hear The Storm could fight out the next race over 1000m.
In the sixth race, Burundi Bush is better than her last start and is now off a competitive merit rating and drawn well.
The Tarry-Khumalo combination must be considered with Seeking Venus, who has her third run after a layoff and is drawn well off a reduced merit rating. However, it’s an ultra competitive race and going wide might be the best option.
In the seventh, impressive debut winner Brigtnumbersix could beat Movie Award and The Smell Of Rain, although back in form Paree must be considered and so must Pool Party.
The eighth is another tough race although Outshine and Teenage Dream make most appeal. In the last race Just A Gigolo is well drawn over an ideal trip and goes well for Piere Strydom, although he has Maximizer to beat, the latter having impressed second time out over this trip.