A gal­lop­ing les­son

SUP­PLE­MENT TO THE WIT­NESS SATUR­DAY, JAN­UARY 26, 2013 SU­PER­FAST VIA AFRICA: One kilo­me­tre in un­der a minute

Weekend Witness - - Racing - PHIL DRAKE

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.

PHOTO: LIESL KING

Three-year-old filly Via Africa is run­ning in the sev­enth race over 1 000 me­tres at Ke­nil­worth to­day.

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