MIKE de Kock has the favourite in Sunday’s Grade 1 Canon Gold Cup, Ilsanpietro, a four-year-old Brazilian-bred by Mark Of Esteem, and has some big runners in the other big features on the day, reports DAVID THISELTON.
The ground is expected to be soft at this meeting, postponed from Saturday due to rain, which should suit Ilsanpietro.
In a staying race campaign between October 2010 and April 2011 on the Highveld from distances of 2450m to 3200m, Ilsanpietro won four times and finished second twice and one of those seconds was when he was demoted after an objection.
On March 26 he lost to Arcola by four lengths in slightly soft going over 2850m, but then thrashed that horse by eleven lengths in the Grade 2 Gold Bowl over 3200m in very soft going.
The horse who was promoted above him in the Gold Bowl, Herod The Great, is not running in the Canon Gold Cup on Saturday.
The Sean Tarry-trained former Summer Cup winner Aslan finished third, 4,5 lengths behind Ilsanpietro in the Gold Bowl, and will now be 2,5kg better off.
De Kock also has Captain’s Wild and Safwan in the Gold Cup.
Captain’s Wild reportedly knocked his nose on the starting stalls in the Vodacom Durban July and returned streaming blood, so the yard reckon that run can be ignored.
He has to carry top weight, but his dam won over 2400m.
De Kock’s Summerveld assistant Nathan Kotzen reckoned he would definitely stay, but was doubtful over his suitability to Greyville, as he has a long run in.
Safwan was held up in the July and finished very strongly.
His Canon Gold Cup jockey Kevin Shea reckoned he would be a “big runner” if he stayed the trip.
Safwan finished fifth in last season’s Gold Circle Derby over 2400m, 6,8 lengths behind Irish Flame, but was only merit rated 80 at the time and has improved to a 103 merit rating. However, he will have to carry second top weight together with Ilsanpietro and In Writing.
Nathan Kotzen fancied Ilsanpietro as the one to be with and pointed to the excellent preparation he had enjoyed in Durban, having run on very well in two races over 2200m and 1800m respectively.
He will be ridden by Anthony Delpech, who will be desperate for winners in order to claim the National Jockeys Title from his fierce rival Anton Marcus.
In the Grade 1 Thekwini Stakes over 1600m de Kock has Ilha Bela, the daughter of the Equus Horse Of The Year, Ilha da Vitoria.
She is unbeaten in two starts including one at Greyville last time over 1400m.
The yard felt that the last win was very impressive from a wide draw against older fillies of the like of Legal Account, who finished third in the KRA Fillies Guineas and whom she beat by 1,45 lengths despite receiving only 4kg.
She now has a plum draw of two with Delpech up again.
The yard described their other Thekwini contender, Amanee, as a “nice filly.”
She will relish the step up to 1600m, especially when considering her penultimate start over 1450m at Clairwood in which she finished very well to win in very soft going.
It would be no surprise to see her reverse form with some of the horses that beat her on fast ground over 1400m on Vodacom July day in the Golden Slipper in which she was dropped out from a wide draw before running on well from near last.
This time she has a better draw of eight.
The yard has three runners Mushreq, Ginepri and Silver Flyer in the Grade 1 Premier’s Champion Stake over 1600m and said, “All three are very nice and will all run well.”
Mushreq is the mount of Delpech and is drawn in pole position.
He improved in his last start to just be touched off in the Grade 1 Gold Horseshoe on July day, so must have a big shout.
Silver Flyer by Silvano was very impressive when winning a maiden juvenile in his second start over the Greyville 1400m and was subsequently supplemented for this race. He could still be anything. He is drawn in eight with Kevin Shea aboard.
Ginepri, an Argentinean-bred, finished a 2,65 length eighth in the Golden Horseshoe and now has a very tough draw of 15 to overcome.
De Kock has the Kahal four-year-old filly Fisani in the Grade 2 Golden Bracelet over 2000m.
She finished a 2,25 length fourth in the Grade 1 Garden Province Stakes over 1600m on July day, but having won a Grade 2 over 2000m this season she should prefer this trip these days.
However, she will have to reverse form with Beach Beauty, who beat her by 1,5 lengths in the Garden Province and should enjoy this trip.
The yard was not too bullish about Fisani’s chances as she is nearing the end of her career, but she surely can’t be ignored.
Photo: Mushreq wins his debut, 22 May, Clairwood. (Gold Circle).