Derby Day at Turffontein on Saturday co-incides with the Johannesburg Prawns and Jazz Festival for which a good crowd is expected at the track for an afternoon of quality food and racing. A Pick 6 carryover is expected to boost the Pool to in excess of R5-million which adds to the attraction of this meeting.
Mike de Kock has entered 10 runners, several with chances, and they include G2 SA Derby hopeful Aragosta, long thought to be one that will be best over 2000m and beyond and getting a chance to prove himself over 2450m.
Mike said: “Aragosta ran a fair race in the SA Classic, he was staying on late to Red Saxon but I don’t think he was himself that day, he looked a bit lacklustre in the days after the race. But he has perked up, he is doing very well. Barring one or two others this doesn’t look like a strong renewal. He is fit and ready, should be a contender here.
Mike saddles Al Muhtana in the G1 Horse Chestnut Stakes over 1600m and, on ratings, they’ll all be running for second to the raiding Cape star, Kommetdieding. “Al Muhtana is doing exceptionally well but obviously at the ratings has several lengths to find with the favourite. I think it will be competitive for second, third and fourth and if we get a bit of rain our chance will be better, as Al Muthana seems to grow an extra leg after it’s rained. He’s fit all the same, will give a good account.”
Newcomer Climate Control (Ideal World), Equestrian Affair and Jaipur Jewel will go to post together in Race 2 over 1400m. The first-timer has some ability but his wide draw is a worry and Mike said: “Climate Control is fit, he’s had enough work but he’s drawn in the bush. He is well though, not inconceivable that he can take a first four placing, but he’ll need luck from that draw. We’d like to see him enjoy the experience and kick on late. Equestrian Affair was disappointing first up, but he is much better than that. He may have been a bit soft and needed that first run, he has a chance in this race, one to watch. I’m trying Jaipur Jewel over 1400m, not saying this is his right trip but I want to get back to basics and see him run a good race.”
Next up is the G3 Man O’War Sprint in which promising Cleaver Greene is thrown in the deep end. Mike commented: “He’s a nice, solid up-and-commer, but has a helluva race on his hands against some proven speedsters. He’s out at the weights, but he is capable so we’re looking forward to his run. Include him.”
Clafoutis (G2 SA Oaks) choked up in the running last time, it’s a run best ignored. “We’re fitting her with a tongue-tie, she’s been working well in it. It’s probably another race for minor money against Rain in Holland, but besides her there is not much in the race so Clafoutis will be trying her best to get as close as possible, she is well.”
Barak and Masaaken will line up in the G3 Caradoc Gold Cup over 2850m. Said Mike: “Both are super fit and getting weight from others. It’s a wide open race and anything can happen in these stayer’s handicaps, so I’d put them both into play.
In Race 10, over 1600m, Wisteria Avenue returns from a short rest. Mike said: “She was a bit unhealthy of late but she’s fine now. She’s a capable filly, but this is too short and she will improve with the run, she is short of her best.