Craw­ford’s top guns get a thumbs-up

The Star Early Edition - - RACING - DAVID THISELTON

HIGH fly­ing trainer Brett Craw­ford said his Graded fea­ture run­ners for Satur­day at Greyville, Cap­tain Amer­ica, Sail South, Ne­bula and Che­vauchee, have all been do­ing very well at Sum­merveld.

Cap­tain Amer­ica has proven in the past to not need a lot of rac­ing to reach his peak so should be in prime con­di­tion for the Gr 1 Ris­ing Sun Gold Chal­lenge fol­low­ing his run­ning on 0,4 length fifth in the Gr 2 Drill Hall Stakes over 1 400m.

He did not jump well in that race ei­ther. His best ef­forts lately have been ei­ther from the front or sec­ond in the run­ning, but more im­por­tantly he set­tles wher­ever he is po­si­tioned these days which al­lows his res­o­lute fin­ish to have its max­i­mum im­pact.

His last four Grade 1 weight for age (wfa) mile ap­pear­ances have net­ted a facile win in the Horse Ch­est­nut Stakes at Turf­fontein in 2015 and three placed runs be­hind the cur­rent Equus Horse Of The Year Le­gal Ea­gle.

In the last of those runs Cap­tain Amer­ica fin­ished sec­ond in the L’Or­marin’s Queen’s Plate, so on form is the horse to beat on Satur­day. How­ever, he does have a tough draw of ten, but Craw­ford does not be­lieve he needs to lead. Reg­u­lar rider Corné Orf­fer rides Cap­tain Amer­ica.

Gold Chal­lenge con­tender Sail South has al­ways had tal­ent but has tended to over race. In this year’s Queen’s Plate he was dropped out to last and was duly seen to fight for his head on at least a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions. It was there­fore a phe­nom­e­nal ef­fort to see him run on for a three length third to Le­gal Ea­gle, 0,75 lengths be­hind Cap­tain Amer­ica and 0,3 lengths ahead of Satur­day’s favourite Marinaresco.

In the Drill Hall he was no given the op­por­tu­nity to fight for his head as he was taken to the front and set a good pace. He was only caught late and fin­ished a 0,45 THE Adam Mar­cus trained four-year-old geld­ing Royal Badge is rated a 150/1 shot with Bet­ting World for the Vo­da­com Dur­ban July, but a pe­rusal over the prog­eny record of his un­der rated sire Go Deputy will quickly show he is not just a hope­ful en­try. He will stake a claim for a berth in the big race when he runs in the Gr 3 Cup Trial over 1 800m on Satur­day at Greyville.

Mar­cus said, “His big­gest as­set is he is an ex­tremely good mover.”

He showed that in his Cham­pi­ons Sea­son pipe opener on the Greyville poly over 1 600m. He turned it on in the straight and his big stride car­ried him to a fast fin­ish­ing fourth, 2,4 lengths be­hind Ne­bula, whom he faces on Satur­day on 3kg bet­ter terms.

Mar­cus said, “It was a won­der­ful prep af­ter a lit­tle break and he has im­proved from that run and is ex­cep­tion­ally well. I was very pleased with the ac­cel­er­a­tion he showed, so don’t think the 1 800m will be too short for him. We have al­ways thought of him as a horse who was on the up and at this time of the Cham­pi­ons Sea­son it just takes one race to go your way and you length sixth. Richard Fourie rides the im­proved six-year-old Sail From Seat­tle geld­ing for the fifth time in suc­ces­sion and they jump from a tricky draw of ten.

Ne­bula will need a big run in the Gr 3 Cup Trial over 1 800m to book a Vo­da­com Dur­ban July berth as he was on the out­side look­ing in on the last July log.

He won his KZN pipe opener hands and heels over 1 600m on the poly, where he showed a fine turn of foot.


The Al­goa Cup win­ner will rel­ish the step up in trip and is drawn in pole with lead­ing jockey Greg Cheyne aboard. Cheyne had a bad fall on this horse in the Calulo Mile at Kenilworth in Fe­bru­ary.

It was nei­ther the horse nor jockey’s fault, but Cheyne was side-lined for three weeks. Ne­bula will need to im­prove on his run in the Gr 2 Penin­sula over 1 800m at Kenilworth in De­cem­ber, where he fin­ished a 3,8 length sev­enth car­ry­ing 55kg and re­ceiv­ing 4kg from the win­ner.

How­ever, the win­ner was Whisky Baron, who of course went on to win the Sun Met.

Fur­ther­more, Ne­bula’s last start proved you can never write off a Sil­vano, they just get bet­ter and bet­ter with age. Sil­vano’s sud­denly have a boom horse.”

Un­for­tu­nately, Royal Badge’s reg­u­lar rider Richard Fourie will be aboard the fan­cied July horse Elu­sive Silva on Satur­day.

How­ever, Mar­cus is pleased with the re­place­ment Grant van Niek­erk, whom he said should know Royal Badge as he has rid­den him in track work in Cape own be­fore.

Adam’s fa­mous fa­ther Basil, who was a seven-times Hong Kong Cham­pion jockey, had two July run­ners as a trainer in Jay Peg and Desert Links.

Adam has not yet had a run­ner in the big race, but has ear­marked a pro­gram for Royal Badge which is based on the one Desert Links fol­lowed in 2008. Desert Links won the Cup Trial, fin­ished a 1,6 length fifth in the July and then won the Gold Cup.

Adam said, “It is very ex­cit­ing to have a horse in con­tention for a place in the July and hope­fully he gets in, that would be awe­some.”

Look­ing at the stakes earn­ers of Go Deputy’s first crop: Adobe Pink won two races in a busy sea­son as a three-year-old and ended the sea­son merit rated 76, but she won four on the trot as a four-year-old prog­eny have also proved them­selves to have a lik­ing for Greyville.

Ne­bula him­self has had four starts at Greyville, all over 1 600m, for two wins, a third and a fourth and the third was in a Listed event. Che­vauchee has al­ways been brim­ful of tal­ent and races in the Gr 2 Ti­bouch­ina over 1 400m. The lightly-raced four-year-old High Cha­parral filly has won two Listed events, over 1 200m and 1 600m re­spec­tively, so the 1 400m trip should be right down her al­ley.

Craw­ford said she had not han­dled Scottsville in her SA Cham­pi­ons Sea­son pipe-opener in the Gr 3 Poin­set­tia Stakes so a line can likely be drawn through that un­placed run.

The only other time she has fin­ished out of the top three in a ten race ca­reer was in this year’s Gr 1 Pad­dock Stakes over 1 800m where she moved up well but then found no ex­tra, so she likely didn’t see out the trip. Be­fore that she gave each of the use­ful males Fifty Cents and Hori­zon 3,5kg in the Listed Jet Master Stakes over 1 600m at Kenilworth and ran a 1,75 length third be­hind them.

She jumps from a tricky draw of eight in the 14 horse field on Satur­day and Cheyne is aboard. and ended the sea­son merit rated 96; Pes­soa was merit rated 78 en­ter­ing the July of his three-year-old year and then won four on the trot, in­clud­ing his first three starts as a four-year-old, and he later added the Gr 3 King’s Cup to end the sea­son merit rated 103; Changin­gofthe­guard did well as a three-year-old win­ning two races in­clud­ing a Listed race and was merit rated 95, but an eight month break from Jan­uary un­til Sep­tem­ber ben­e­fit­ted him be­cause in his sec­ond start as a fouryear-old he won the Matchem Stakes, beat­ing the crack three-year-old King Of Pain.

These are just three ex­am­ples of the prog­eny of a sire who have al­ways paid to fol­low the mo­ment they turn four-year­sold as the im­prove­ment is no­table in vir­tu­ally ev­ery in­stance.

Royal Badge him­self did well as a three­year-old, win­ning three races, but his first black type-earn­ing per­for­mance came in the De­cem­ber of this sea­son as a fouryear-old when cruis­ing to a 2,75 length win in the Gr 3 Grand West Cape Sum­mer Stay­ers hand­i­cap over 2 500m.

He is now merit rated 95 and among his com­pe­ti­tion on Satur­day will be an­other Go Deputy four-year-old, Go Di­rect, who has also proved pro­gres­sive this sea­son.

Royal Badge has a tricky draw of seven in the nine horse field, but in that last 1 600m race he had a sim­i­lar draw and was dropped out to sec­ond where he found the rail and switched off nicely.

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