Marinaresco was yesterday reported in fine fettle and on course for the Vodacom Durban July despite his below-par effort in last Saturday’s Rising Sun Gold Challenge and being lumbered with top weight in the big one.
The four-year-old started favourite for the Gold Challenge but seemingly failed to pick up and finished with only four of the 15-strong field behind him. Rider Bernard Fayd’Herbe reported to the stipes that he felt something amiss although the consequent veterinary examination failed to reveal anything wrong.
Candice Bass-Robinson said: “There was nothing amiss but I think the pace over a mile was a bit too hard for him and maybe he was racing a little bit too close to it for his liking. He is 100%.”
The stable’s Majorca winner Nightingale, who ran a fine race to take second to Just Sensual in the Tibouchina, could renew rivalry with the winner in the Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes but the July now looks more likely. “We are leaning towards that way at the moment,” said her trainer.
However Silver Mountain, who disappointed in the Tibouchina, has been retired. She was a runaway winner of last season’s Cape Fillies Guineas before taking fourth in the colts’ equivalent and second in the CTS Million Dollar.
Mrs Robinson said: “She was very good as a three-year-old but she wasn’t quite the same filly at four. Last Saturday she was travelling pretty well and, I don’t know if she hit a bad patch or what, but she was suddenly not travelling and Piere didn’t persevere with her. There was nothing wrong afterwards.”
The decision of the handicappers to raise Captain America’s merit rating by two points to 118 for his win in the Gold Challenge was responsible for Brett Crawford scratching the gelding from the Vodacom Durban July late on Monday afternoon.
Crawford said: “It meant a further kilo that Captain America would have had to give away to the rest of the field. With his distance limitations, and after discussing the matter with his owners, we decided it would be in the best interests of the horse to wait for the Champions Cup (July 29).
“This is basically a weight-for-age race and so he won’t be giving away heaps of weight. We felt we should scratch him early so that the public is aware of the position.”
The scratching came as a surprise to many, this writer included, but perhaps it shouldn’t have. Crawford had mentioned that a decision would be made after the Gold Challenge on whether Captain America ran in the July or waited for the Champions Cup.
Top weight in the July usually proves too great a cross to bear. Since El Picha in 2000 only Pocket Power, who dead-heated in 2008, has managed the feat.