Meet the pick of this year’s Met bunch
Worth watching these turf stars
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.