The Grade 1 Cape Town Met has panned out into a re-run of last season’s Grade 1 Vodacom Durban July with four of the first six past the post in the July in the line-up. In fact, all of the country’s main actors will face the starter, the only one missing being July runner-up Got The Greenlight.
Last year’s Vodacom Durban July winner Belgarion is currently at the top of bookmaker’s boards for the race to be run at Kenilworth in Cape Town on Saturday, January 30, where he again faces Rainbow Bridge, Do It Again and Golden Ducat. Added to this year’s cast is recent Grade 1 Paddock Stakes winner Queen Supreme, Grade 1 Summer Cup runner-up Running Brave, African Night Sky on the comeback trail, and the only three-year-old in the race, Princess Calla.
Do It Again, a dual winner of the Vodacom Durban July, finished a creditable third last year in his bid for his third successive July victory, just ahead of Golden Ducat with Rainbow Bridge putting in a below par performance, finishing in sixth place.
Rainbow Bridge showed his true worth when going on to be involved in possibly the race of the season, edged out on the line by stable companion Golden Ducat in the Grade 1 Champions Cup at Hollywoodbets Greyville.
The Grade 1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate is one of the country’s big three Grade 1 WFA 1600m races, the other two being the Gold Challenge, run at Hollywoodbets Greyville and the HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes run at Turffontein, and is most often used as a stepping stone into the Met.
This year was no different although the big three of Belgarion, Rainbow Bridge and Do It Again were upstaged by Jet Dark.
However, the three filled the minor placings led by Rainbow Bridge and their respective trainers will have left a little meat on the bone for the Cape Town Met, all three horses more at home over the extra 400m.
Golden Ducat, a winner of the Champions Cup and fourth in the July last season, ducked the Queen’s Plate, the 1600m way too sharp for the former Grade 1 Cape Derby winner, the race run over the same course and distance of the Met. He turned in an exceptional effort to win the Grade 3 Peninsula Handicap over 1800m run on the same day as the Queens Plate. In a race run at a pedestrian gallop, not suited to Golden Ducat, Eric Sand’s charge fought on gamely to win a race in which he looked clearly defeated 400m out.
Queen Supreme posted back-to-back victories in the Grade 1 Paddock Stakes, cruising to a most impressive win. Mike de Kock then shipped her back to his base at Randjesfontein and most surmised that the Met was off her agenda so it came as a surprise that De Kock opted for the filly to make the arduous 1600km road trip back to Cape Town in just over three weeks, surely an indication of what the multiple times champion trainer thinks of her chances.
If she travels well, the boys will need to pick up their feet.
Fanie Bronkhorst has had his trainer’s brief for less than a month but he saddles Summer Cup runner-up Running Brave who runs in his colours. For the Summer Cup, Paul Matchett was at the helm but Bronkhorst steered her to her recent win in the Grade 2 London News Stakes.
The ‘big four’ are all fancied in the early betting market with Queen Supreme in the mix, but whatever the result and barring any mishaps, all are likely to be headed to KZN for South Africa’s Champion Season and another tilt at the country’s most prestigious race, the Vodacom Durban July.
World Sports Betting prices on the Cape Town Met as of Friday, January 22:
22-10 Belgarion; 9-2 Rainbow Bridge; 11-2 Queen Supreme; 6-1 Do It Again, Golden Ducat; 9-1 Princess Calla; 18-1 African Night Sky; 25-1Running Brave; 33-1 Cirillo; 40-1 Silver Operator; 80-1 Sovereign Spirit.