ASSISTANT trainer John Buckler makes only occasional guest appearances on our website, like Mr Burns in The Simpsons, but he’s similarly popular these days, especially among racing’s big brass.
With Mike and Mathew de Kock away in Dubai, John has been very busy holding the fort at Randjesfontein, but he set aside some time to take a call from Racing Express and summed up the general view of the Betting World Guineas on Guineas Day at Turffontein, saying: “It’s a very competitive race with competitive horses.”
He will saddle Suyoof (7-1 with Betting World) and Muwaary (10-1) in the first leg of the SA Triple Crown. The joint-first leg was the Grand Parade Cape Guineas, won by De Kock-trained Noah From Goa who is heading overseas. The second leg is the SA Classic in early April and the final race in the series is the SA Derby at the end of April.
John says he would have been more confident if Suyoof had drawn well in the big race. “It’s not going to be easy for him from No 16 draw. I’d be confident if he’d drawn in the first four. But he won a good race in the Tony Ruffel Stakes last time out and has improved since that run.”
Suyoof, returning from a two-month layoff, was not that well drawn in stall 10 of 13 in the Tony Ruffel Stakes but, as John said: “It was a smaller field. He jumped slowly and managed to get in. I don’t know if Anthony Delpech can slot him in again.”
He believes Muwaary, the mount of Callan Murray, might not be quite at best in his first run in three months. “He hasn’t had a prep run since coming back from Cape Town and it’s hard to say if that will affect him. Horses always seem to improve after a run, especially if they’ve been to Cape Town and back. But he galloped well last Saturday and is well in himself.”
Muwaary had won three of his five starts before lining up in the Selangor Cup at Kenilworth on 21 November. That run can be ignored because he was distressed after the race and bled, which led to him returning home for a three-month layoff.
He is drawn in pole position and if anywhere near the level of fitness when he won the Graham Beck Stakes over 1400m in October, he has a good chance.
Persian Rug, the De Kock stable’s representative in the R500,000 Wilgerbosdrift Gauteng Fillies Guineas, was the filly some racing experts were talking about as a potential champion after Gold Cup Day at Greyville on 1 August. However, the Ideal World filly has been disappointing since.
She has drawn well in the first leg of the Wilgerbosdrift Triple Tiara, but John believes she might find the 1600m of the Gauteng Fillies Guineas a bit sharp.
“We threw her out after she finished a well-beaten fourth behind Negroamaro in November and she ran a nice race on her comeback in the Three Troikas Stakes, when beaten only three lengths by Madame Dubois.
“She seems to have lost that early toe but has definitely improved since the Three Troikas Stakes.
“The 1600m might be a bit sharp for her – the 1800m of the SA Fillies Classic and 2450m of the SA Oaks will be right up her alley – so if she runs a place we’ll be happy.”
Jayyed will be trying further again in the Grade 2 1400m Hawaii Stakes after running pleasing races over 1200m in his last two starts.
“He’s working well and will be competitive if he keeps rolling over the extra 200m,” said John.