MIKE de Kock looks the trainer they will have to beat in the R1-million Gauteng Guineas over 1600m on the Standside track at Turffontein on Saturday and he is very happy with the state of his four runners going into the Grade 2 race which is also the first local leg of the SA Triple Crown.
Soqrat has already won the “away” first leg which was the Grade 1 Cape Guineas and although nominated, he will not be taking his place in the local race.
But Mike does have unbeaten Hawwaam, the half-brother to Sun Met winner Rainbow Bridge, Barahin, Alyaasaat and Arlingtons Revenge but believes the first two are the best of his quartet.
“I’m very happy with Hawwaam,” said Mike. “I’ve freshened him up since his win in the Tony Ruffel and he has improved. If he is going to win the Triple Crown I would say the Guineas will be his toughest task because 1600m is almost his minimum trip.”
Unfortunately, the son of Silvano will jump from No 11 draw but, as Mike mused, “he’s never had a draw”.
Barahin has not run since winning the Golden Horseshoe at Greyville on Durban July day in which he touched off Soqrat by a short head. “I think he is very good. He’s the only horse in that age group to have beaten Soqrat. We gave him a long rest because he was a bit jarred up after the Natal season.
“His work since coming back has been excellent and we’ve done as much as we can, but he still might just need the run. But he does have a bit of class.”
Unfortunately, he too is drawn very wide but will have Anton Marcus in the irons.
Mike said he took the decision to geld Alyaasaat after his flat run in the Graham Beck Stakes in which he finished fourth behind National Park. “He is very capable and he has come on with gelding but I’m not convinced he is in the class of the other two.
“Arlingtons Revenge is also probably not in this class. If he ran fifth it would be a massive run. He is an improving sort and I would like him to run well,” he added.
The bookmakers appear to agree with this assessment of the race as Betting World has Hawwaam at 18-10, Barahin at 5-2 and they are then betting 10-1 bar those two.
He also saddles three runners in the Grade 2 Wilgerbosdrift Gauteng Fillies Guineas and while they all have chances, this race is a lot trickier which is also reflected in the betting but they still have Nafaayes favourite at 3-1.
“She’s a well above-average filly,” said Mike. “I particularly like the form of her last race (the Grade 2 Ipi Tombe Challenge over 1600m) where she beat older fillies to win a good race. She hasn’t raced since but she’s a lightly framed filly and she doesn’t take much work.”
Sean Tarry-trained Celtic Sea is second favourite at 6-1 but Storm Destiny is joint-third favourite at 7-1 with Ronnie’s Candy.
“Storm Destiny impressed me in her last run (Grade 3 Three Troikas Stakes). I didn’t expect her to win over 1400m. I’m not worried about her wide draw because she’s got to sit off the pace in any case. She likes to run at horses.”
Betting World has 16-1 on offer for the stable’s third runner, Dagmar. “She’s had her issues but she’s not a bad filly on her day. She is certainly better than she’s shown of late,” said Mike.
At least she has a reasonable No 6 draw.
-TAB NEWS/Jack Milner.