MATHEW de Kock, on Mike’s behalf, will saddle Espumanti (Karl Neisius) and Welwitschia (Kevin Shea) in the Gr1 Majorca Stakes over 1600m on J&B Met Day, Saturday. Ilha Bela (Gr2 J&B Met Stayers, 2800m), is the stable’s other runner on the big day.
Espumanti, the Gr2 Ipi Tombe Challenge winner, has drawn well and looks set for a good showing. Her run in the Paddock Stakes was below par and she is likely to show good improvement. Welwitschia was disappointing when a flatfooted fourth in the Sceptre Stakes after a great Diadem win but she, too, should be competitive in a race where Beach Beauty is undoubtedly the horse to beat.
Mathew has been taking care of the Mary Slack-owned trio in Cape Town for the last three weeks and he said on Friday: “We’re expecting Espumanti to put her last run behind her and to challenge for the money in the Majorca. She left Johannesburg like a lion before the Paddock Stakes, but she didn’t travel all that well and ran accordingly. She’s settled down and shown that she’s back to her best since then. Welwitschia has good form over 1600m, but it’s not her ideal trip. She’s in good form, however and we’re hoping she can stake a claim.”
Ilha Bela is considered good enough to challenge for top honours in the stayer’s race and Mathew commented: “Ilha Bela is the second-highest rated horse in the race and she has a handy weight. She’s drawn wide, but arguably this shouldn’t be a factor that’s too concerning over 2800m. I think she’s a big runner.”