The ‘Sun’ will shine at Scottsvill­e

Weekend Witness - - Racing - PHIL DRAKE

SCOTTSVILL­E plays host to one of the finest days of horse rac­ing on the South African cal­en­dar. The nine-race card is headed by the Gr1 Tsogo Sun Sprint sup­ported by three other Grade 1 races at the City track to­day.

The four races have at­tracted the finest thor­ough­bred sprint­ers in the coun­try and with all four races hav­ing at­tracted full fields of 16 run­ners, pa­trons are in for a day of drama and high-class rac­ing.

Chimichuri Run, beaten favourite in the Gr1 Com­putaform Sprint, is at the top of the boards for the R1 mil­lion Gr1 Tsogo Sun Sprint. But 41 with Track & Ball doesn’t in­spire any con­fi­dence and a bet­ter op­tion could be the 11-2 about top weight Un­der­cover Agent.

Brett Craw­ford, suc­cess­ful with Pa­cific Trader in the Com­putaform, is not short of am­mu­ni­tion for the Scottsvill­e show­piece with four run­ners, three of which are ac­com­plished sprint­ers.

Bold Re­spect

Last year’s win­ner Bold Re­spect has been win­less since al­though close up dur­ing the Cape sum­mer.

Search Party was un­der two lengths back to Pa­cific Trader in the Com­putaform and Sun­set Eyes, who warmed up in a Pin­na­cle Stakes, is car­ry­ing joint bot­tom weight.

That leaves top weight Un­der­cover Agent.

He is the class horse in the field but there are con­cerns in some quar­ters that 1200m may be on the sharp side given his re­cent form. He was far from dis­graced in the Gr1 L’Or­marins Queen’s Plate and the Gr1 Sun Met but it may have been his class that car­ried him so close.

Prior to those races, his last win was in a 1200m sprint at Ke­nil­worth be­fore warm­ing up for to­mor­row’s event with a game win over Rain­bow Bridge in the Gr2 In­de­pen­dent On Satur­day Drill Hall Stakes over 1400m.

The test­ing Scottsvill­e straight has found out many a good speed horse but suits a gal­loper with speed and a touch of stamina, a per­fect pro­file for Un­der­cover Agent.

Sta­ble rider Corne Orf­fer, whether out of sen­ti­ment or choice, has stayed with Un­der­cover Agent which is a fur­ther tick in the right box. The bal­ance of the field is evenly matched.

The grey Mardi Gras ap­pears to have had the ideal prepa­ra­tion. Af­ter run­ning up a hat-trick of wins, he was given a short break by Jo­han Janse van Vu­uren.

His warm-up was at Greyville ear­lier this month where he gave away lumps of weight and he should strip at his peak.

Last year’s win­ner Bold Re­spect is hand­ily weighted and car­ries only 1kg more than last year with the added ad­van­tage of An­ton Mar­cus in the sad­dle. He boasts solid Cape sum­mer form so will have many sup­port­ers.

It is not sur­pris­ing that Chimichuri Run is at the top of the boards given his re­cent record and can­not be left out of any cal­cu­la­tions while fel­low three-year-old Palace Chapel looks fair each-way value at 20-1. The three other Gr1 sprints are equally dif­fi­cult.

Snow­dance is a luke-warm an­tepost favourite for the Gr1 SA Fil­lies Sprint. Justin Snaith has specif­i­cally tar­geted this race, be­liev­ing that she is more of a sprinter than a ‘miler’.

Like Un­der­cover Agent, her stamina will come into play and she could land the odds.

She is up against last year’s Allan Robert­son Cham­pi­onship win­ner Mighty High and re­cent Camelot Stakes win­ner Schip­pers.

The two met re­cently in the Camelot Stakes with Schip­pers run­ning out a win­ner. Schip­pers got a hefty shunt up the hand­i­cap for that win but they meet on al­most iden­ti­cal terms here so Ge­off Woodruff ’s run­ner can con­firm that form.

The Ju­ve­nile races are a com­pletely dif­fer­ent ket­tle of fish.

With young horses ma­tur­ing at dif­fer­ent rates and full fields of 16 run­ners lin­ing up in both the Gr1 Tsogo Sun Gold Medal­lion and the Gr1 Allan Robert­son, it is some­thing of a guess­ing game.

The un­beaten SA Fil­lies Nurs­ery win­ner Basadi Faith will have her sup­port­ers in the Allan Robert­son but she was hard pressed to hold on to her lead that day as Ca­vi­var chal­lenge hard. The ex­tra 100m on the Scottsvill­e track could find out Basadi Faith but they may all have to get to Trav­el­ling Light.

Garth Puller, a mul­ti­ple Gr1 win­ner as a jockey, has yet to re­peat as a trainer but in Trav­el­ling Light he has a lively con­tender. She cruised home on de­but beat­ing the well-re­garded Talia Al Ghul by nearly five lengths with the bal­ance of the field a fur­ther five lengths back.

Gold Medal­lion

Owner Dave Ma­cLean has four run­ners en­gaged in the Gold Medal­lion, all four in with chances.

Re­cent Highveld awards win­ner Frosted Gold from the Mike de Kock yard is at the top of the boards but Ma­cLean has three smart run­ners from the Dun­can How­ells yard which gives him a strong hand.

Den­nis Drier bids for an un­prece­dented sev­enth win in this race over the past decade and pins his hopes on Car­tel Cap­tain and Mas­ter Of Il­lu­sion. The for­mer may prove the pick which brings African War­rior and High Volt­age into the pic­ture.

In all, this will be a fas­ci­nat­ing day’s en­ter­tain­ment and a high­light of Cham­pi­ons Sea­son.

Corne Orf­fer rides UN­DER­COVER AGENT for Brett Craw­ford in the Tsogo Sun Sprint at Scottsvill­e to­day. Pic­ture: Candiese Marnewick

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