JACK MILNER of Racing Express previews Saturday’s R500,000 Wilgerbosdrift Gauteng Fillies Guineas at Turffontein.
A R1-million bonus will be paid out to any filly who can emulate Cherry On The Top last year and win the Fillies Guineas over 1600m, the SA Fillies Classic over 1800m and the SA Oaks over 2450m.
Perhaps the most exciting filly in the line-up is Mike de Kock-trained Santa Carolina. She is unbeaten in two starts and is a half-sister to Ilha Bela. She scored her first win with ease, beating Wild Ash by 2.50 lengths over 1400m at this course.
Santa Carolina, now for the ‘big time’!
Her second start was even more remarkable because she received a nasty bump at the top of the straight. Santa Carolina looked out of the race but got back into stride and flew late to beat Euphoria by a neck.
The runner-up is a year older than Santa Carolina and since then has gone on to beat Negev, who has also subsequently won, so the form looks strong.
Speaking about Santa Carolina, assistant trainer Mathew de Kock said: “She is a very nice filly but lacks experience. She has a good draw, which is important as most of the opposition are badly drawn.”
Not Sulking won on the same night as Santa Carolina over the same distance and Geoff Woodruff’s charge could be her biggest threat. The daughter of Trippi won in a slightly slower time but carried more weight, so it could be close between the pair. She completed the final 400m in a remarkable 22.8 sec to beat Lizzy Grey by three lengths.
“Not Sulking doesn’t impress me in work but is doing well in herself,” said Woodruff. “I thought her last run was a top effort and, with Close The Gap out of the race, she should be concerned with the finish.”
With Anthony Delpech on Santa Carolina and Anton Marcus aboard Not Sulking, it could turn into a thrilling race.
Charles Laird saddles Admiral’s Eye, who has raced 11 times for three wins and five places. She finished a three-length third behind Close The Gap in the Grade 3 Fillies Mile over this course and distance in November and as she jumps from No 3 draw, should give plenty cheek.
Unfortunately Athina has once again landed a wide draw. She finished second in the Fillies Mile and then won the Grade 3 Three Troikas Stakes, beating Close The Gap. Joey Soma’s charge will have Robbie Fradd to guide her home but Soma says he is hoping the bigger stables ensure a decent pace.
For The Lads has not run all that well on the Highveld recently but one must not forget that she and Along Came Polly are the only Grade 1 winners in the race. Sean Tarry has his string in top form and is expecting a positive run from this daughter of Trippi.
“I find it hard to believe that For The Lads is a 14-1 chance,” said Tarry. “She hasn’t had the most successful run on the Highveld but is drawn well and with Piere Strydom up, is a massive runner. I think she is huge value.”
Another useful outsider could be Mohave Princess, who, according to trainer Chesney van Zyl, has been putting up some good work. “She is doing nicely and is an outsider to include in all bets. She wants further but is well and could be right there.”
As far as Along Comes Polly is concerned Van Zyl feels she is starting to improve but he has only had her for three weeks and feels she will need another couple of weeks to fully acclimatise.