Malmoos trying to stay perfect – but faces formidable foes in the Grade 1 Cape Guineas

“Only top-class horses win the Guineas,”

“Only top-class horses win the Guineas,” asserts trainer Dean Kannemeyer, who knows what it takes to win this prestigious Classic for three year-olds over 1600m. Saturday’s much-anticipated contest at Kenilworth will reveal who is best out of the 2020 vintage.

Ante-post favourite at 18/10 is unbeaten Malmoos on the back of four fluent victories. His master conditioner, Mike de Kock has a stellar record in G1’s and any horse capable of recording such notable speed figures early in his career, combined with a high percentage, stalk- and- pounce running style clearly has a favourites’ winning chance. However, draw ten makes it tougher than last time when he got a perfect rail- hugging trip, and his ability to stave off the deep closers will be tested on the Summer Course with its longer run in of 600m.

Most dangerous of the off-pace runners could be Rascallion who produced a surging finish from too far back in the Concorde Cup, won by Malmoos. After his eye-catching debut run in the Nursery in February, jockey MJ Byleveld, proclaimed, “This horse will win a G1!” – and subsequent starts suggest the son of Vercingetorix has the latent talent to achieve such a feat.

Trainer Vaughan Marshall sports an excellent record in the Cape Guineas. Not only does he saddle primed 6/1 shot Rascallion, but he also sends out free-wheeling front-runner, Seeking the Stars (currently second favourite at 5/2) and the game pace-presser, Linebacker, who is troubled by a wide draw of 14.

Since having blinkers fitted, Seeking the Stars is now able to sustain a seriously strong gallop over 1400m – both the Cape Classic and RTR Stakes were won with authority in impressively quick times, after adjusting for the track conditions. It’s conceivable though, that he will be subjected to more pace pressure in this G1 race and will have to carry his speed an extra 200m, possibly making him vulnerable to the late- charging cavalry in deep stretch.

Justin Snaith, winning trainer of last weekend’s Fillies Guineas victress, Captain’s Ranson, launches a three-pronged attack, saddling The Gatekeeper, Hoedspruit and well-performed Langerman victor/ last start winner, Jet Dark. Snaith commented, “The Gatekeeper is a machine, but the draw (13) is a problem unless Richard Fourie can get over. The horse will be a force during the KZN Winter season – a race like the Daily News is a long- range target.”

Hoedspruit appeals as being able to outrun 16/1 odds – Snaith surmises he might be the right one of his trio. He suffered a terrible trip in the Avontuur Concorde when repeatedly steadied and switched, yet still produced a closing sectional only a few ticks off Rascallion’s big burst. Jockey Pierre Strydom is entrusted with trying make up the three lengths deficit with Malmoos on that last clash.

Another lurker with upside potential is Invincabelle. Trainer Brett Crawford reported that his charge wasn’t right a few months ago with a bad blood picture, so training schedules had to be altered. However, there was much to like about his comeback sprint behind Kommetdieding a few weeks ago and Invincabelle, who hammered afore-mentioned Hoedspruit when both were making their debuts in June, merits more respect than current 20/1 odds reflect.

Dean Kannemeyer saddles Silvano’s Timer and Russian Rock and whilst both are teed up for peak efforts they appear held on exposed form. Gold Medallion winner, Tempting Fate was a top juvenile for Dennis Drier last term but needs to prove his current worth after not quite lasting home in the Champions Stakes mile in August and then fluffing a seasonal pipe-opening sprint at Kenilworth earlier this month.

The betting market indicates that the balance are unlikely to trouble the scorer. 33/1 long shots Willow Express, Look for Hounds, Contact Zone, and 66/1 rank outsider Fast Love make up the 15 runner field. Off time is 16h45.

In a worthy initiative, Cape Racing launched the Star Grooms campaign on the 12th of December as a gesture of appreciation for these essential workers grafting tirelessly behind the scenes.  For the duration of the 2020/21 Summer Season, Khaya Stables will be rewarding the Top 5 grooms in all feature events, a total of 29 races until the end of February 2021.

The three qualifying races on Saturday are the Cape Guineas (G1), Peninsula Handicap (G2) and Victress Stakes (G3). Accolades from last week deservedly went to Snaith Racing grooms, Lungisa Ngovula: Captain’s Ransom (Fillies Guineas) and Isaac Sokhe Mwelase: Belgarion (Green Point Stakes).

Words: Mark van Deventer

Photographer: Chase Liebenberg