Guiness to make merry
ANOTHER Greyville-Scottsville race meeting combination is in store for KwaZulu-Natal racegoers this weekend with tonight’s meeting in Durban being on the polytrack and the inside course at the Pietermaritzburg venue being the scene of battle on Sunday.
On Sunday there are a few tricky races where a number of first-timers make their appearances but one race which offers punters a possible banker is the Nirash Gayadin Financial Planner Graduation Plate over 1 200m where the sensational winner of the Grade 1 Gold Medallion last year, Guiness, makes his comeback to racing after a ninemonth break.
Off his rating of 111, Guiness has a very good chance of victory if one looks at the race as if it were a handicap and taking into consideration the 6.5kg weight-for-age allowance the three-year-olds should enjoy.
Guiness beat the brilliant filly Carry On Alice when winning the Gold Medallion at Scottsville as a two-year-old, heading the field from start to finish. We have seen what Carry On Alice has done since which puts that win by Guiness into perspective and the gelding has obviously had his problems leading to his long period out of racing.
Coming from the Dennis Drier stable for owners Ingrid and Markus Jooste and in the hands of Anton Marcus, one can expect the son of Seventh Rock to run a very good race on Sunday in spite of the break and it would be surprising if he does not win.
His main opposition are the three threeyear-olds - Lauderdale, Bunker Bill and Executive Power - and while the Elusive Fort filly Lauderdale from the Duncan Howells yard has shown her ability to earn a merit rating of 101, the other two are certainly unknown quantities on their performances to date.
The Dupont gelding Bunker Bill from the Alistair Gordon stable has raced twice over 1 200m at Scottsville, finishing 2.5 lengths third on debut then rocketing home with a scintillating finish to win by eight lengths in his second start. That was an awesome demonstration of what he is capable of and an idea of what we might expect from him on Sunday.
For that he has earned a merit rating of 93 which still puts him at a disadvantage with Guiness seeing as he only receives 4.5kg from the Drier star when in a straight handicap he would receive 9kg plus his 6.5kg three-year-old weight-for-age allowance.
The Mike Miller-trained Warm White Night colt Executive Power is very much in the same position. There was a lot of talk about him when starting 7-10 favourite on debut and he did not disappoint by leading all the way and winning unchallenged by 3.5 lengths.
He too receives only 4.5kg from Guiness whereas in a straight handicap he would receive 12kg on his 87 merit rating plus the 6.5kg weight-for-age allowance.
Looking at it in a different way by comparing the winning times and the manner of the wins over the same course and distance of Guiness, Bunker Bill and Executive Power, other possibilities emerge.
Guiness as a two-year-old and hard ridden clocked 69.47 secs carrying 58kg. Bunker Bill, without being pressured, as a three-year-old under 60kg stopped the clock in 70.25 secs while Executive Power, also under 60kg and winning comfortably, was timed at 70.83 secs. To make the picture even more confusing, Guiness was a young horse and is now a lot stronger and potentially quicker while the other two could probably have posted faster times if pressured.
On paper based on handicap, the threeyear-olds should not beat Guiness but in the cases of Bunker Bill and Executive Power, the handicappers might have underrated their ability and, being very lightly raced, considerable improvement could be expected.
Throwing everything into the melting pot and not forgetting that Lauderdale has some good form and is not to be ignored, it will boil down to raw ability, the factor which for the other three is an unknown at this stage but could be the deciding factor if they all bring their A games to the course.