ILHA Bela has enjoyed an excellent preparation for Saturday’s Gr1 Sansui Summer Cup over 2000m, but a soft track could stand in the way of Mary Slack’s game grey mare (headline photo) posting a tenth Cup success for Mike de Kock.
There was a massive downpour in greater Johannesburg on Thursday afternoon and more rain is expected on Friday morning. The good news is, however, that Saturday is expected to be “warm and sunny” – according to accuweather.com.
Weather forecasts are about as reliable as the average racing tipster’s best bets, but if the track has dried up sufficiently by Saturday afternoon, Ilha Bela (Anthony Delpech) is likely to be competitive.
Mike commented on Thursday: “Ilha Bela is very well, and I’m surprised how well her prep has gone. We are well drawn and I think she’s a big runner. I am concerned about the weather though. She likes it when the going is fairly on top so I am a little worried about the rain. I also don’t see a lot of speed in the race so we don’t want to be too far off them. But she has no stamina doubts and I would be very happy with a strong pace. “
Ilha Bela is quoted around 5-1 favourite with bookmakers around the country, with some 11-2 available from online sports betting sites www.bet.co.za and www.hollywoodbets.co.za, while her current tote return is more than R18 – that is likely to drop significantly when Saftote punters place their early bets on Friday and the pool starts to grow.
The stable and a host of racing fans are looking forward to see Whistle Stop in the Investec Dingaans, a race that always attracts a top quality field but still carries only Gr2 status. Punters won’t be able to get much better than 2-1 on this promising three-year-old, who is expected to continue his rise to the top.
Whistle Stop (Anthony Delpech).
Mike commented: “Obviously one has to have a healthy respect for Willow Magic but Whistle Stop will be better over a mile. He’s a massive improver and the further he goes, the better he’ll be. There is no doubt he’s the pick of my four runners.
“I need to get confidence from this race before considering a trip to Cape Town for the Guineas next month. He’s a smart horse but he has to prove it. I plan to get him overseas. In fact, he missed the last flight but that will probably work in his favour. He is still immature and I suspect travelling would not be good for him right now.
“You can put a line though Umgiyo’s last race. This time he’s got the draw and a good rider in Bernard Fayd’Herbe. He will probably prefer further but I’m expecting a good run. Taarish will go further but he is a nice horse. Gogetthesheriff is also smart but is more of a Derby contender.”
Welwitschia comes off a good rest in the Gr2 KIC Merchants over 1160m and Mike said: “She’s very fresh and I expect her to run well but this is a handicap and she’s near the top of the weights. Desert Sheikh’s had a really good prep, running on really well over 1000m. He has shown he can carry the weight. Link Man is doing a lot better lately. He’s jumping out the gate and showing a lot more interest. They’re all in there with fighting chances.”
Horse Chestnut’s daughter Silent Force will go to post in the Gr 3 Gauteng Fillies Mile, along with Square Dance and Mike said: “Silent Force did well in open handicap company when she was still green and all over the place. Any three-year-old who can perform against their elders in handicap company is decent. I’ve thrown Square Dance into the deep end. She is from the Northern hemisphere and will be good in time. I want to see how good she is.
The Gr2 Absa Rewards Ipi Tombe Challenge (1600m), seems a perfect race for the highly regarded Espumanti. “I’m happy with Espumanti. She’s had a good run-up to the race and her northern hemisphere allowance brings her close to Do You Remember. She’s a smart filly and she’s come on and matured quite a bit, we’ll be hoping for a big run.
“Amur Affair is capable on her day. She needed her last run badly and has improved but I would have like to her having had another run. Bluroute also has the ability to make an impression here but she’s in and out.”
The stable is looking for a feature race win for Patriotic Rebel, who disappointed in his last run but is expected to do much better in the Gr3 Racing Association Handicap over 3200m. “I have no explanation for Patriotic Rebel’s last run. Maybe it was just a flat run but he is very capable. I’m confident he stays the trip in what is a pretty ordinary race,” Mike assessed.
Berlinetta will face the starter in the Gr3 Sansui Magnolia Handicap, joined by Counter Ridge. Mike said: “Berlinetta does make a bit of wind noise but it’s not impossible she could be in the money. Counter Ridge has been disappointing and she’s getting on. I would be really chuffed if she ran a place.”
Race comments courtesy of Jack Milner, editor of The Citizen’s Racing Express.