SOUTH Africa’s top three-year-olds have stood their ground to officially open Champions Season at Greyville Racecourse on Sunday 8 May and set the classic programme in motion in the KRA Guineas and the KRA Fillies Guineas.
Each of the Grade 2 events over 1 600m have drawn 12 runners, among them being possible future champions that have already shown star quality.
The Mike de Kock-trained star from Gauteng, Link Man, winner of five of his nine starts including the Gauteng Guineas, meets the Bloodstock SA Cape Guineas winner Solo Traveller and the Dingaans winner The Apache for the first time in what will be a gigantic battle in the KRA Guineas. Add to this trio the exciting Dynasty colt Run For It who was second in the Bloodstock SA Cape Guineas, third in the Peninsula Handicap and third in the J&B Met and you have the recipe for a chilli-hot contest.
Link Man (blue silks), KRA Guineas favourite. (JC Photos).
The Toreador colt Link Man was most impressive when winning the Gauteng Guineas but was beaten into fourth place by the Cape raider English Garden in the SA Classic and will be happier over the 1 600m of the Greyville race. He is highly rated by his stable and is likely to continue his career overseas at the end of the season.
Justin Snaith rates his Western Winter gelding Solo Traveller highly and he ran an outstanding race when beating stable companion Run For It by a neck in the Bloodstock SA Cape Guineas. But the Dynasty colt showed he was a very high-class individual and could really run when finishing just two lengths third to Past Master in the 2 000m J&B Met and is seen as a major contender to lift the Vodacom Durban July later in the season.
As a rank outsider at 40-1, the Mogok colt The Apache from the stable of Gavin van Zyl, blew away all the opposition to win the Dingaans at Turffontein last November and, having earlier in his career run a close second to SA Classic winner English Garden over 1 600m at Greyville, proved that he was a colt well above the average and a runner with a major chance in the KRA Guineas on Sunday.
The KRA Fillies Guineas includes top fillies from all three major racing centres headed by the locally-trained daughter of Dynasty, Beach Beauty, from the stable of Dennis Drier. She has won four of her five starts in very impressive fashion including the Independent On Saturday Umzimkhulu Stakes where she was followed home by stable mate Miss Zummerudd who will join her in this classic event.
From the De Kock stable the Irish-Bred Berry Blaze will carry the silks of Wilgerbosdrift Stud having run third to stable mate Igugu in the SA Fillies Classic. She is beautifully bred out of a Sadler’s Wells mare and looks a major prospect in the making.
Justin Snaith steps into the ring with his well-performed Captain Al filly Emerald Cove. A five-time winner including the prestigious Grade 1 TBA Paddock Stakes, she was also second in the Odessa Stud Fillies, third in the Avontuur Estate Cape Fillies Guineas and fourth in the Klawervlei Majorca Stakes.
With just 12 runners in each race, the draw will not be too serious from the 1 600m start and two fantastic, close finishes are likely.