A galloping lesson
SUPPLEMENT TO THE WITNESS SATURDAY, JANUARY 26, 2013 SUPERFAST VIA AFRICA: One kilometre in under a minute
AN exciting season of speed culminates in the Group 1 Cape Flying Championships at Kenilworth this afternoon. Last year saw an incredible contest with 2011 National Champion Sprinter Val De Ra taking on the two top boys, Cape Champion Sprinter What A Winter and International Sprint star J.J. The Jet Plane.
Val De Ra gave them a galloping lesson on that occasion and this year it may again be a member of the fairer sex that again takes the crown. Via Africa, a daughter of European Champion Sprinter, Var, has won four of her five starts by a combined margin of 23,75 lengths. Her only defeat came at the hands of another Var filly, Schiffer.
Despite being trained by Ashburton-based Duncan Howells, Via Africa has been in Cape Town under the watchful eye of Eric Sands and is familiar with the Kenilworth straight having won over it when adding the Group 2 Southern Cross Stakes (1 000 m) to her trophy collection on December 8 in a speedy 56 seconds.
Alec Forbes has the ride and the three-year-old filly jumps from barrier four with a lightweight 54 kg on her back. While she will meet her stiffest competition to date, she is superfast, recording 55 seconds over the Scottsville 1 000 m.
Howells said: “She was still green when she won her last start (the weight for age Grade 2 Tony Taberer Southern Cross Stakes for fillies and mares over the Cape Flying course and distance). I think she is good enough to win, but if she doesn’t it will be no disgrace to finish second to What A Winter, so I’d rather be taking this route than sticking to the fillies races.”
Competition is likely to come from the moody but talented Cape Royal from the Dean Kannemeyer yard. Having won his last three starts, Cape Royal is a very speedy son of Royal Academy. Kannemeyer thinks highly of his charge and the mere fact that he has thrown him in the deep end, suggests that he cannot be ignored.
2012 National Sprint Champion, What A Winter, who heads to stud at the end of the season, will not relinquish his title without a fight. Regular pilot Bernard Fayd’Herbe has the ride.
He does however come off an unplaced finish in the Group 1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate over 1 600 m, a distance that was perhaps a tad too far in the twilight of his career. He won the Cape Flying Championship in 2011, before going down to Val De Ra in 2012. Trainer Mike Bass will hope that his star can recapture the title to finish off a magnificent career that includes 11 victories.
Locally, Clairwood stages a ninerace card tomorrow and punters don’t have an easy task.
Shelly’s Connection in the third race could be a PA banker for braver punters, despite being the only filly in the Maiden Plate event over 1 200 m.The Garth Puller-trained daughter of The Sheik faced the topclass fillies Via Africa and Festival Of Fire in her first two runs without being disgraced. She likely needed her last run which came after a fivemonth absence from the racetrack, but still managed a good third over tomorrow’s course and distance.
The Chris Erasmus-trained Crumlin is an outsider with an eachway chance as he has run some fair races over sprints. He has been disappointing since making a very smart debut, but has been a bit keen over further, so should relish the return to this trip and is drawn on the “right” side.
“Feature” race is the sixth, an M.R. 86 handicap over 1 000 m, and the Tony Rivalland-trained Mr Mickey Mouse could be the one to side with despite being seven years old. An out-and-out sprinter, he has been a model of consistency and has a good record at this course. He is off a competitive merit rating at present and is drawn on the right side.
The Dennis Drier-trained top weight Jagerbomb has always shown a lot of speed and a four-kilogram claimer aboard will help his cause.
The Duncan Howells-trained Bwana Macube will appreciate a re- turn to 1 000 m and with a four-kilogram claimer aboard he will be dangerous as he has plenty of early pace.
In the eighth race, an M.R. 79 handicap for fillies and mares over 1 700 m, the Mike Bass-trained Shimmering Jet could win her second race in succession. She went close in her penultimate start here over 1 600 m and then won comfortably over 2 000 m at Scottsville with the blinkers off.
The handicapper gave her a six point raise, but she has the blinkers off again and has the promising 1,5 kg claimer Donovan Dillon aboard from a great draw of three.
The Duncan Howells-trained Misty Morn has been knocking on the door over a bit further, so is interesting here with blinkers on.
The Gavin van Zyl-trained Shadows In The Sun has come down to an attractive merit rating and must have a chance if reproducing her Johannesburg feature race form of last season.
Three-year-old filly Via Africa is running in the seventh race over 1 000 metres at Kenilworth today.