MIKE de Kock could win both the R1-million Gauteng Guineas and R500,000 Gauteng Fillies Guineas over 1600m at Turffontein on Saturday, reports NICCI GARNER in The Citizen’s Racing Express.
He has three of the top four in the betting for the Grade 2 Gauteng Guineas, the first leg of the SASCOC SA Triple Crown, including a horse many believe has the potential to win all three legs of the series, Perana.
The chink in Perana’s armour is the distance of the Guineas. He will certainly be better suited to the 1800m of the SA Classic next month and the 2450m of the SA Derby a month later.
He has, however, run two good races over the trip recently, finishing fourth to Solo Traveller in the Cape Guineas in December and then going down 1.50 lengths to Galileo’s Destiny (2.5kg, or 2.50 lengths better off) over this course and distance earlier this month.
Stable companions, Kavanagh and Link Man, are disputing favouritism.
Said De Kock from Dubai: “I’m lucky enough to have some very smart horses still left behind in South Africa. Each one of my runners is there on merit and will run on merit. I think they’ve all got an equal chance of winning, although Link Man and Kavanagh must have the edge because of the distance.”
Link Man, the best-weighted runner in the field, is considered a top-class sprinter, but did give an indication that he will stay 1600m when posting an easy win in the 1450m Tony Ruffel Stakes last time out. That race was on the easier inside track and it is possible he might not enjoy the stiffer standside circuit.
De Kock disagrees: “The 1600m will be absolutely ideal for him.”
Kavanagh has not won in three starts over 1600m, but did finish third to The Apache and Galileo’s Destiny in the Dingaans over this trip in November when he was sent too early. He went on to finish a close third behind Solo Traveller in the Cape Guineas with Perana a neck further back.
On the upgrade, Kavanagh took the measure of Charles Laird-trained Galileo’s Destiny in a 1400m race earlier this month and it should again be close between the two.
De Kock also has high hopes of winning the Fillies Guineas. He saddles high-class Igugu and British-bred Welwitschia in the second leg of the Triple Tiara. While he believes it is a two-horse race between Igugu and Laird’s Hollywoodboulevard – “they’re a cut above on paper” – he says: “Welwitschia is a very good filly who, although six months behind, is in this league. Only the race will tell if she can beat Igugu, though.”
Headline photo: Igugu. (JC Photos).