Malmoos is the only horse with a chance to claim the WSB SA Triple Crown, writes JACK MILNER.
Trainer Mike de Kock has also confirmed that should his charge triumph in the Grade 1 World Sports Betting SA Classic over 1800m on the Standside track at Turffontein on Saturday, the WSB SA Derby is definitely on the menu.
“If he wins the SA Classic, he’ll go for it,” said De Kock on Wednesday. “He would have a big chance of winning the Derby because 2450m should be no problem for him.”
However, standing in his way is Paul Peter-trained Catch Twentytwo, the horse Malmoos beat by a neck in the Grade 2 WSB Gauteng Guineas.
“It’s going to be tough for Malmoos,” added De Kock. “Catch Twentytwo will be very hard to beat.”
When Malmoos won the Guineas, Catch Twentytwo hung badly, became unbalanced and Gavin Lerena had to use all his skill just to stay on the gelding.
Once he straightened up, he closed in but the line came just in time for Malmoos.
“In the Guineas, the pace dropped away very quickly and Malmoos hit the front early. Then he had a fight with Copper Mountain, so he did a lot of work.
“I don’t think he would’ve had anything left if the race had been much further,” said De Kock.
However, he did acknowledge Malmoos has improved since that race. “The Guineas was his first run back from the Cape, he was in front for a long way and was not at peak fitness.
“He has come on a lot.”
Luke Ferraris is back on board.
Peter was unable to explain why Catch Twentytwo hung so badly but surmised his charge was crossed by another horse and that might have set up a chain reaction.
“Gavin worked him on Wednesday, and he went as straight as an arrow,” confirmed Peter. “He’s moving beautifully, and he’s come through his prep very well.”
Questioned on his charge going the extra 200m for the first time, Peter responded: “Gavin seems to think it won’t be a problem. He switches off totally.”
Neither trainer sees much pace in the race, and both agree their two runners should fight it out again.
“It’s going to be a close race,” said Peter. “I just hope we’re on the right side this time.”
They also both have a second runner in the field – De Kock has Al Muthana and Peter Dr Doolittle.
“Al Muthana has been a bit disappointing,” said De Kock. “He’s not a horse who has matured. He was a rig and we gelded him, but he just hasn’t gone on.
“Having said that, he is better than his rating. I’ve put blinkers on him so let’s see how he runs.”
Peter, though, is confident of a good run from Dr Doolittle. “Ignore his run in the Sea Cottage Stakes. The going was very uneven that day and he ended up in the bad going.
“He pulled up very well after his win last week, so we supplemented him into the race.
“He’s a lovely horse and shows good work. Don’t leave him out of Trifectas and Quartets.”
Of the remaining runners, one is certain to see an improved performance from Johan Janse van Vuuren-trained Second Base. He finished fourth in the Guineas but will be far better over this distance.