‘Amer­ica’ gets the vote

The Star Early Edition - - RACING - DAVID THISELTON

BRETT Craw­ford joined Mike de Kock on five Gr 1s for the sea­son, one be­hind the six of Sean Tarry, when Cap­tain Amer­ica won the Gr 1 Ris­ing Sun Gold Chal­lenge over 1 600m at Greyville un­der his reg­u­lar pi­lot Corné Orf­fer.

This race and the Gr 3 Cup Trial over 1 800m, which was won by the Justin Snaith-trained Elu­sive Silva, made the Vo­da­com Dur­ban July pic­ture a touch clearer.

How­ever, the pan­el­lists who have to choose the fi­nal field face an un­en­vi­able task.

Cap­tain Amer­ica’s two ca­reer Gr 1 wins have now both been in weight for age miles. How­ever, his only at­tempt at the July as a three-year-old colt in 2014 can be ig­nored as he jumped awk­wardly and lost a length and then over raced.

As a re­laxed six-year-old geld­ing his head­strong an­tics are now a thing of the past.

In this year’s Sun Met he had to be used up early to find the lead from a wide draw, yet was only caught at the 150m mark. How­ever, he was hardly tir­ing as he ral­lied to fin­ish third.

Fur­ther­more, it was the fastest run Met since the first of Pocket Power’s Met vic­to­ries in 2007.

The Con­glom­er­ate

The Con­glom­er­ate showed last year that be­ing handy in the July can be an ad­van­tage and it is easy to imag­ine Cap­tain Amer­ica run­ning a sim­i­lar race to last year’s win­ning one. How­ever, against him will be the top­weight he will have to carry.

He is cur­rently merit rated 116 and might get a point or two for Satur­day’s win.

The line horse is likely to be ei­ther the con­sis­tent 1,75 length third-placed Bela-Bela or the 2,5 length fourth­placed Sail South, who proved his Queen’s Plate run was no fluke. Cap­tain Amer­ica ran to about a 117 com­pared to Bela-Bela.

How­ever, she was a touch un­lucky and that might be taken into ac­count. Com­pared to Sail South, Cap­tain Amer­ica ran to about a 118 or 119. How­ever, it might be taken into ac­count that com­ing from the back at Greyville gave Sail South less time to make up the lee­way than he had at Ke­nil­worth, where he was 0,75 lengths be­hind Cap­tain Amer­ica in the Queen’s Plate.

Betting World re­acted by chop­ping Cap­tain Amer­ica from 33-1 to 14-1. Marinaresco had ev­ery chance from a mid­field po­si­tion, but faded tamely when it counted and be­hind the strong pace he would have pre­ferred to have been fur­ther back.

He has drifted out to 8-1. Bela-Bela’s run­ning was taken up briefly at a cru­cial mo­ment at the top of the straight, so her third was an out­stand­ing ef­fort. How­ever, the book­mak­ers still have her at 25-1 as Justin Snaith has in­ti­mated that she will run in the Gar­den Prov­ince.

The Con­glom­er­ate stayed on un­der a sym­pa­thetic ride and it was a pleas­ing prepa­ra­tion for the de­fence of his July crown, where he will have a fine chance at the weights.

Saratoga Dancer was per­haps a bit too handy in a strongly paced race and didn’t find ex­tra in the clos­ing stages. How­ever, he was in 13th place on the log so might be safe.

Brazuca was do­ing his best work late in quite an eye-catch­ing prepa­ra­tion and in 11th po­si­tion on the log should get in.

Mas­ter Sabina

Mas­ter Sabina, who has booked his place, was also do­ing good work late. French Navy has never been one to run well fresh, but his well be­low par run will have been con­cern­ing for his sup­port­ers just three weeks away from the big race.

In the Cup Trial, Elu­sive Silva booked his place by quick­en­ing well off a slow pace and just pip­ping the pace­maker Crowd Pleaser.

Third-placed Black Arthur will be the big­gest headache for the pan­el­lists.

They will at­tempt to find a place for him as he is 10-1 in the July betting and has en­joyed a fine prepa­ra­tion. After all, they did find a place for both Fu­tura and Saratoga Dancer in re­cent years after they had fin­ished third and fourth re­spec­tively in the Cup Trial.

Nightin­gale ran on well for sec­ond in the Gr 2 Ti­bouch­ina over 1 400m to keep her July hopes alive, but Sil­ver Moun­tain will drop out of con­tention after be­ing eased out of the race.

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