LINK MAN (photo), the joint top-rated three-year-old in the country alongside Cape-based stars Run For It and What A Winter, is one of 26 first entries for the R1-million Gauteng Guineas (Grade 2) to be run over 1600m at Turffontein on Saturday 26 February.
The Gauteng Guineas forms the first leg of the SASCOC Triple Crown. The other two legs are the SA Classic over 1800m on 26 March and the SA Derby over 2450m on 30 April. Any horse who takes the honours in all three races receives a R2-million bonus for winning the Triple Crown.
Many believe that Link Man’s stable companion Perana has real Triple Crown potential. Link Man, however, showed last Saturday that he is capable of scuppering his stablemate’s ambitions to become only the second horse in South African racing history after Horse Chestnut to win the Triple Crown.
Link Man proved that his depth of stamina extended beyond 1200m by winning the Tony Ruffel Stakes over 1450m on the inside track. The performance indicated that Link Man should at least stay the 1600m journey of the Guineas.
While the handicapper rates Perana six points, or three lengths, inferior to Link Man, the Mike de Kock stable rates the Australian-bred son of Rock Of Gibraltar as “out of the top drawer’’. In his six races, he has won twice and placed twice, including beating his top-class stable companion Mother Russia by 0.50 lengths in the Victory Moon Handicap over 1800m on the standside track back in November.
He was then narrowly beaten in the Cape Guineas over 1600m at Kenilworth, where he ran on to finish a 0.60-length fourth behind Solo Traveller. That effort makes him a live contender in the Gauteng Guineas on the tougher Turffontein circuit.
De Kock’s four other entries include another high-class individual in Kavanagh, who has not finished unplaced in seven career starts, winning twice. He finished a neck in front of Perana in the Cape Guineas and is another who could wreck his stablemate’s Triple Crown bid.
No fewer than nine horses are rated 100 and above in a powerful list of entries. They include Shea Shea (second to Link Man in the Tony Ruffel Stakes), Galileo’s Destiny, who finished second in both the Graham Beck Stakes (to Kavanagh) and the Dingaans, Approachable, who finished fourth in the Dingaans, PE raider The Plunderer, Dingaans fifth Snowdon and Gold Onyx, who has been disappointing this season.
First entries have also closed for the R500,000 Gauteng Fillies Guineas, the first leg of the Triple Tiara that carries a R1-million bonus for a filly winning the Grade 2 race and the SA Fillies Classic and SA Oaks.
The list of nominations sets up an exciting rematch between top-class fillies Hollywoodboulevard, who scored her fourth consecutive victory in the Three Troikas Stakes last weekend, and De Kock’s top-class Igugu.
Hollywoodboulevard, who has bounded into the limelight since being ridden by Guillermo Figueroa, beat Igugu by a length in the Ready-To-Run Cup last year but many believe Igugu is better than that.
Big-race entries for Saturday 26 February:
R1-million Gauteng Guineas (Grade 2) over 1600m (merit rating and trainer shown after horse):
LINK MAN 111 Mike de Kock
KAVANAGH 106 Mike de Kock
SHEA SHEA 106 Geoff Woodruff
PERANA (AUS) 105 Mike de Kock
GALILEO’S DESTINY 104 Charles Laird
APPROACHABLE 103 Weiho Marwing
THE PLUNDERER 102 Gavin Smith
SNOWDON 101 Ormond Ferraris
GOLD ONYX (NZ) 100 AT Sean Tarry
WESTERN FRONT 98 Charles Laird
THE ASSAYER 97 Mike de Kock
VALOR 96 Mike Azzie
NOT LIABLE 95 Charles Laird
FIDELIS 93 Charles Laird
SUPER TROUPER 91 St John Gray
GOOD ON YOU 88 Charles Laird
MONEY GRUBBER 86 Gavin van Zyl
THE RAJ 86 Mike de Kock
CAPTIVE ACTION 84 Paul Matchett
CITY OF BELLS 84 Mike Azzie
DRUM MASTER 84 Weiho Marwing
SEPTEMBER WIND 84 Gary Alexander
LANCEWOOD 83 Mike Azzie
PAINTYOURFACE 83 Roy Magner
ROMAN WALL 83 Sean Tarry
TROUBLED WATERS 81 Sean Tarry
R500,000 Gauteng Fillies Guineas (Grade 2) over 1600m:
HOLLYWOODBOULEVARD 103 Charles Laird
IGUGU (AUS) 103 Mike de Kock
FAIR ROSALIND 101 Paul Matchett
HAPPY ARCHER (AUS) 100 Sean Tarry
WITHOUT MALICE 96 George Scott
MINA SALAAM 94 Roy Magner
STORMY COAST 94 George Scott
WELWITSCHIA (GB) 89 Mike de Kock
RUNNING RIVULET 87 Weiho Marwing
PRINCESS OF LIGHT 85 Geoff Woodruff
PIMPINELLA 83 Gary Alexander
BEAUTIFUL YOU 82 Sean Tarry
BERRY BLAZE (IRE) 80 Mike de Kock
SEPTEMBER MORN 77 Dianne Stenger
R300,000 Hawaii Stakes (Grade 2); over 1400m (trainers in brackets): |
ACROSS THE ICE (S G Tarry); ARABIAN MIST (G M Alexander); ASLAN (S G Tarry); AUTUMN GOLD (S G Tarry); BULSARA (G H Van Zyl); CALL TO COMBAT (S J Gray); CAPTAIN SCOTT (A G Laird); DON’T TELL TITCH (G V Woodruff); EARL OF SURREY (G V Woodruff); EMIR (D J Nieuwenhuizen); GALILEO’S GALAXY (C Laird); IRON CURTAIN (R R Sage); JAMAICAN DREAM (M G Azzie); KAVANAGH (M F De Kock); LIGHTNING LECTURE (D J Nieuwenhuizen); LINK MAN (M F De Kock); LOCHLORIEN (M G Azzie); MISS TURBULENCE (W H Marwing); OPENING NIGHT (C Binda); OZYMANDIAS (W H Marwing); POLAR MOON (S G Tarry); REBEL KNIGHT (G M Alexander); REGAL RANSOM (S G Tarry); SHEA SHEA (G V Woodruff); SMANJEMANJE (T Zackey); THANDOLWAMI (C Eudey); THE ASSAYER (M F De Kock); VALOR (M G Azzie).
R165,000 Acacia Handicap (Grade 3); over 1600m:
ALL AFIRE (A G Laird); AUTUMN GOLD (S G Tarry); BEAUTIFUL YOU (S G Tarry); BELLA JET (B P Maroun); CANDY SINGER (M F De Kock); CAREY’S QUI (A G Laird); CATHERINA LADY (D N Stenger); CHECCETTI (M F De Kock); DANCEWITHTHEDEVIL (S J Gray); ENGAGEMENT (S J Gray); ESTEREL (D N Stenger); FILLY BUSHWACKER (G H Van Zyl); FISANI (M F De Kock); GENEROUS ANNA (C Laird); GIVE ME FIVE (S G Tarry); GLUWEIN (M F De Kock); HEADSTRONG (M F De Kock); LADY MAGPIE (A D Gordon); LISA ANNE (G M Alexander); MISS TURBULENCE (W H Marwing); PRINCESS OF LIGHT (G V Woodruff); QUEEN MIRA (G V Woodruff); QUICK SINGLE (G V Woodruff); STELLA MIA (A G Laird); SYNCOPATE (O A Ferraris); TREE OF PERFECTION (P F Matchett).
R135,000 Aquanaut Handicap (Listed); over 2450m:
ARCOLA (W H Marwing); BADGER LAKE (M F De Kock); CHICO AZUL (G V Woodruff); CRACKER JACK (G V Woodruff); DARK WIND (M F De Kock); DOLOMITE (K Naidoo); FROZEN FIRE (M F De Kock); FURLING SAIL (S J Gray); GOLD ON GOLD (O A Ferraris); HAVASHA (M F De Kock); ICE CRUSHER (H E Adamson); ILSANPIETRO (M F De Kock); LION’S BLOOD (M F De Kock); MIRAGE DRIVE (T Zackey); PARLOTONE (L W Goosen); ROYAL CAPTIVE (S G Tarry); SAYADAW (S W Kenny); VERTICAL TAKEOFF (S G Tarry); WINNING LEAP (D Zaki).