Meet the pick of this year’s Met bunch

Worth watch­ing th­ese turf stars

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - ZARA NI­CHOL­SON

THERE’s a buzz around horses in Cape Town at this time of year. While every­one has heard of Cape su­per­horse and three­time J&B Met win­ner Pocket Power, there are oth­ers in the race worth watch­ing. Here’s our pick of horsey per­son­al­i­ties in the Met.

Pocket Power

Known as an equine hero, the most im­por­tant thing about Pocket Power’s ca­reer is he broke the J&B Met record by winning three races con­sec­u­tively. Three weeks ago he broke his own record by winning the Queen’s Plate for a fourth time in a row.

Co-trainer Candice Robin­son from Mike Bass Racing in Mil­ner­ton says the cham­pion horse has his mo­ments and can be very “fussy”.

“But he’s a once-in-a-life­time horse – to win four races con­sec­u­tively is a life­time achieve­ment. At seven, he is ag­ing a bit, but he seems to be even bet­ter than he was last year. It’s go­ing to be a tough race, but he knows what to do on race day and he has a big chance of do­ing the al­most im­pos­si­ble.”

While Pocket Power is a star on the course, at the stables he gives his han­dlers and train­ers a good run with his “quirky” ways.

“He likes to do things his own way. But he’s get­ting older, so he’s set­tling now. He loves his food and his rou­tine. He also likes to have a friend with him. He’s not much of a leader – he likes to fol­low, but he’s an ab­so­lute cham­pion. And af­ter a race, he likes to be left alone to cool down,” says Robin­son.

Marsh Shirtliff and Arthur and Rina Web­ber bought the geld­ing for R190 000.

He has never been beaten at Ke­nil­worth and has ear ned over R10 mil­lion in his ca­reer.

Pocket Power has 18 wins to his name, nine in Grade 1 races.

His odds to win this year’s Met are 2/1.

River Jetez

This six-year-old filly is Pocket Power’s sis­ter and has the same quirky traits, says Robin­son. River Jetez is also trained by the crew at Mike Bass Racing.

“She’s not an easy filly to han­dle. She’s not the friendli­est horse, but when you’re out rid­ing her, she’s very easy. She’s a lot like Pocket Power – she doesn’t like to be fussed over.”

The filly is also in good form and fin­ished third in last year’s J&B Met. She has never beaten her brother, but Robin­son says she stands a good chance this year – with “a lot of luck”.

She was bought for around R240 000 and is now worth “a cou­ple of mil­lion”.

Big City Life

The four-year-old is in his racing prime and Pocket Power’s main ri­val. Trained by Glen Kotzen at Wood­hill Racing in Paarl, he was last year’s Vo­da­com Dur­ban July win­ner.

“He’s a very good-looking teenager – he’s tall and a bit of a play­boy,” says Kotzen. “When he comes into the pa­rade ring, he pumps him­self al­most dou­ble his size, so he’s a bit of a show-off. He wants every­one to look at him.”

The “very ver­sa­tile” racer has earned over R3 mil­lion in his ca­reer and stands a good chance in to­day’s race.

“He’s a huge run­ner, re­gard­less of what the crit­ics say,” Kotzen says.

This will be his first J&B Met, but his train­ers are con­fi­dent of his abil­i­ties.

Fabiani

The small horse is known to sur­prise and is an­other first-timer at the J&B Met.

Co-owner and trainer Glen Kotzen says his size should not fool any­one, for he has a heart the “size of a lion” and is a force to be reck­oned with.

The four-year-old has earned around R800 000 in his ca­reer and is a re­cent Group 2 win­ner.

“He’s half the size of Pocket Power and Big City Life. He’s very re­laxed and a real laid­back char­ac­ter. But he’s re­ally good in a race. He’s got an ac­cel­er­a­tion you can’t be­lieve.”

Kotzen says the horse has been named well, as his fa­ther is called Model Man.

Di­a­mond Quest

The eight-year-old, who has some ti­tles to his name, has raced suc­cess­fully in Dubai and Eng­land.

Candice Robin­son de­scribes Di­a­mond Quest as a win­ner.

“He’s got a lot of abil­ity, but he’s not al­ways as con­sis­tent as he could be. He’s been a very good horse to us, and is par­tic­u­larly good at the mo­ment.

He’s very un­com­pli­cated and has no quirky tem­per­a­ment. He’s fairly sound and a plea­sure to train. And he’s quite ver­sa­tile as far as dis­tance goes.”

He took the top spot at the Gold Cup in KwaZulu-Natal in Au­gust last year over a dis­tance of 3 200m.

For­est Pass

He is a very quiet and sub­dued horse who tends to get ex­cited on the track.

The four-year-old trains at Stephen Page Racing Stables in Philippi. This will be his first J&B Met, but his train­ers are con­fi­dent about his chances, as he fin­ished third in the Vo­da­com Dur­ban July last year.

Page has been work­ing with For­est Pass only since Novem­ber, but says he is def­i­nitely ready for the Met.

RIVER JETEZ: Sis­ter of Pocket Power – she fin­ished third in the Met last year.

WON­DER HORSE: Gisela Calitz of Dur­banville with Met favourite Pocket Power. Calitz is wear­ing a cerise egg-shaped tis­suetaffeta party dress by Hip Hop, a favourite in the fash­ion stakes. PIC­TURE: HENK KRUGER

BIG CITY LIFE: The main ri­val to Pocket Power won last year’s Vo­da­com Dur­ban July.

DI­A­MOND QUEST: Has com­peted in Dubai and Eng­land.

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