High class racing at Greyville

I cannot start any piece that covers South African racing without at least a mention of the passing of top sire Captain Al who was lost to us all this week at the age of twenty.

A son of Al Mufti, he was a top class racehorse with ten wins from his seventeen starts at the highest level with his victory in the 1999 Cape Argus guineas my personal stand-out. Good as he was on the track he will be better remembered as a stallion with too many winners to mention, but not every sire can claim winners of the middle distance J&B Met and more recently the recently retired sprinter Carry On Alice and he will be sorely missed by both the Klawervlei Stud where he stood and the whole of the South African breeding industry.

His sons such as Captain Of All will do their level best to make sure his bloodline is regularly seen in the winners’ circle at racetracks around the continent and possibly even further afield.

On to happier subjects and Greyville puts on a mixed turf and polytrack card on Saturday afternoon of ten races that will once again prove a stamina test but with some high class racing once again.

To call the Hollywood Bets Queen Palm Stakes a tightly fought contest feels like an understatement with three of them pretty much sharing the race for favouritism as I write – and that is in a six horse race!

It does look a fierce heart to bet in but I did fancy the chances of Witchcraft before I saw the early odds and we all know it is folly to change your mind. My thought process is simple enough,I don’t have much choice on that score, and I am naively assuming S’Manga Khumalo had the choice of the two Sean Tarry runners, famous last words, and has decided to be on board the four-year-old daughter of Kahal.

She has won five of her fifteen starts for an impressive 33% success rate and was a perfectly acceptable fourth to Zante in the Track And Ball Oaks last month and if I have my form right, a repeat of that ought to be more than good enough to win her sixth race this afternoon.

Trip To Heaven, picture Liesl King

Just one other bet will do me on a competitive card where I will be making notes rather than placing bets, but even I cannot resist the Grade 1 Mercury Sprint due off at 15:35pm local time.

Fourteen of the very best will go to post for the R800,000 contest over the 1200m with the majority carrying the 60kg and just the three getting a single pound, so no excuses even before the stalls open.

The early market ranges from 3/1 up to 30/1 though I expect some bigger prices by the time the stalls open, headed by Trip To Heaven for that man Sean Tarry again, and sad as it is for me to follow the crowd, he has plenty in hand on official ratings and really ought to prove hard to beat.
Last time out he finished a length and a half second to Captain America in the Rising Sun Gold Challenger over 1600m, one pale ahead of Bela-Bela who was so impressive on Durban July day and that form looks rock solid to put it mildly.

He is far happier at this sort of trip anyway with his last win in the Khaya Stables Diadem Stakes back in January at Kenilworth and does seem to be in the form of his life which makes him very difficult to oppose today.

If you do not like backing the jolly you could do a lot worse than have a little each way on Brutal Force who looks overpriced for the Joey Ramsden stable and will not be far away granted a clear run, but personally, I will settle for the favourite who looks to have a few pounds in hand on all known form.

Sean’s Suggestions:

Witchcraft 12:05pm Local Time Greyville Saturday

Trip To Heaven 15:35pm Local Time Greyville Saturday