“TORO Rosso is very well,” said Mike de Kock ahead of Saturday’s R1-million Peermont Emperors Palace Charity Mile.
“He showed with his last win at Turffontein he has brought his dirt form to the turf. I know he has a bit to find on Deputy Jud but No 1 draw 1 is a big help with a horse like him.
“He’s genuine horse, albeit a little fragile. He has had breathing problems but the tongue tie seems to have worked. It’s not a condition that warrants surgery.”
It is a handicap which makes it an open event because in theory all the horses are weighted to have a winning chance. But there are other influences, specifically the draws and how much weight a runner has to carry.
On paper, the Brazilian-bred son of Elusive Quality has a lot to find with both Deputy Jud and Ultimate Dollar on their Supreme Cup run but on that occasion they were all drawn well and Toro Rosso had to deal with No 14 draw, a nightmare over 1450m on the Vaal sand.
Muwaary, top-rated in Graham Beck Stakes.
Delpech said he was always convinced he had the best horse in the race but from that draw he had push Toro Rosso all the way and was never able to let him settle. This time the roles are reversed. Toro Rosso jumps from No 1 draw while Deputy Jud will be drawn at No 10 with the reserve runners out, and Ultimate Dollar will jump from barrier No 12.
The dark horse in the is De Kock’s Irish import Flying The Flag, who will be making his South African debut.
The Galileo six-year-old counts among his three wins a Group 3 race at The Curragh and he has placed in a Group 1 race in Dubai and a Group 2 race in Ireland.
Assistant-trainer Mathew de Kock said earlier this week: “He’s a big, beautiful horse and very well bred.”
Mathew believes Flying The Flag is forward enough to give a good account of himself in the Charity Mile. The race is the first step in his preparation for his main mission this spring, the R2-million SANSUI Summer Cup over 2000m at the end of next month.
He said: “Flying The Flag hasn’t raced since March and is probably 80 to 85% fit so will probably be in need of the run on Saturday. He’ll also be better suited to slightly further but we’re hoping he gives us something positive in this race.”
He confirmed Flying The Flag could next run in the Victory Moon Stakes on Saturday 14 November to hone his fitness for the Summer Cup.
There is a third string to the bow in Mitraad, a four-time winner from five starts who is stepping up in class and distance and has drawn the second-from-outside barrier.
“If he had Toro Rosso’s draw I’d be confident of a big run,” said Mathew. “His preparation has gone smoothly and he’s coming in with a nice low weight.
“The 1600m is probably at the top end of his range but I think he’ll handle it. The draw is a big worry. We’ll discuss tactics with jockey Randall Simons closer to the time.”
The stable will saddle 18 runners at the meeting and there are four others Mathew believes will run well – Shaama in the 1400m Starling Stakes and Muwaary in the 1400m Graham Beck Stakes as well as three-year-old Persian Rug and year-older The Centenary in the 1800m Yellowwood Handicap.
“Shaama is coming back from a rest but is doing well. She’s got a bad draw but I think she can overcome it. Muwaary has a nice draw and is the top-rated horse in the field. His best distance is further but I’m hoping for a good performance.
“We won the Yellowwood Handicap last year with Pine Princess so it is possible to win with a three-year-old. Persian Rug is the top-rated horse and has bottom weight. The Centenary is in good form and will also run well.”
-extracted fromm reports by Jack Milner and Nicci Garner, Racing Express.