THE Gauteng SANSUI Summer Cup final field and draw announcement was held amid unprecedented tension at Turffontein’s stables as the panelists had appeared to face some tough decisions in choosing the most worthy 20 horses. The R2 million race will be run over 2000m at Turffontein on Saturday, November 29.
The Tyrone Zackey-trained Judicial had thrown a spanner in the works by winning the Gr 2 Victory Moon Stakes over 1800m last weekend as he had not been in the top 20 of the final Summer Cup log. Neither had the Alec Laird-trained Earl Of Derby or the St. John Gray-trained Everest who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively in the Victory Moon, well ahead of a couple of top 20 incumbents. The big question was which horses, if any, would be sacrificed to make space for these horses?
However, in the end the panellists only had to make two eliminations as the entry list cut down to 22.
Five times champion trainer Geoff Woodruff has five horses in the final field, Alec Laird has four and both Robbie Sage and St. John Gray have two apiece.
Four out of province trainers have one runner apiece, KZN’s Gavin van Zyl and Charles Laird, and the Western Cape’s Brett Crawford and Joey Ramsden.
Van Zyl has the topweight No Worries, who ran a cracking second in the Peermont Emperor’s Palace Charity Mile.
Charles Laird runs the exciting prospect Bold Inspiration. He is untested at this level, but is a big, long striding sort who should love the Turffontein Standside track.
Crawford will try and make history by claiming a rare Gold Cup and Summer Cup double with Wavin’ Flag.
Ramsden runs the recent Algoa Cup winner Disco Al, an improving sort who will also love the galloping nature of the track.
There are three fillies in the race, the Sage-trained Jet Belle, the Joey Soma-trained Gr 1 SA Fillies Classic winner Athina and the Sean Tarry-trained Enchanted Silk.
Athina has already proved she loves this course, although the 2000m will be at the upper limit of her stamina range.
The versatile Jet Belle was impressive when winning the Gr 2 Gold Bracelet over this distance at the end of last season at Greyville and will be fancied by many as she is full of class.
Tarry would have been relieved to see Enchanted Silk scraping into the field as he rated her his best entrant, although she will be under sufferance at the weights on official merit ratings.
The draw is also of importance despite the fairness of Turffontein as a racetrack.
The most eagerly awaited draw was that of the ruling favourite, Woodruff’s triple crown hero Louis The King. He drew perfectly in seven and Piere Strydom retains the ride. Woodruff’s other three fancied runners Master Sabina, Lockheed Jetstar and Rake’s Chestnut drew, 2, 11 and 6 respectively, while his outsider Killua Castle drew 18.
Pole position was drawn by Disco Al and the widest draw of 20 went to Earl Of Derby. The latter will be hoping for soft ground, which he appears to thrive on.
Alec Laird’s three most fancied runners, the hard-knocking Gr 1 performer As You Like, the Charity Mile winner Bezanova and the classy Bouclette Top, drew superbly in barriers, 3, 4 and 5 respectively.
Alec’s cousin Charles’ charge Bold Inspiration landed a tricky draw of 12.
Judicial landed a draw of 14 and trainer Tyrone Zackey has retained faith in jockey Karl Zechner.
Topweight No Worries drew well in 8, a much better draw than he had in the Charity Mile.
Sage’s pair Jet Belle and Sovereign Mint had rotten luck with the draw, landing barrier positions 15 and 19 respectively.
Gray’s pair Everest and Glorious Jet didn’t fare much better, drawing 13 and 17 respectively.
Wavin’ Flag drew nicely in 9 and will likely be dropped out as he is capable of producing a sustained run from well off the pace.