Bookmakers will be waiting until late this afternoon (Friday) before they price up on Saturday’s R1.25 million Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup over 1400m on Turffontein’s standside track, and with good reason. This year’s field is markedly stronger and more competitive than last year’s inaugural line-up. This is a result not only of the bigger prize pool, but also of greater owner and trainer participation following the success of the inaugural event in 2007.
At this time last year Bloodstock SA asked buyers at the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale to “tick the box’’ when signing for their purchases. Those who did, qualified their runners for the 2008 Ready To Run Cup at a small levy. This option is again available to buyers who wish to fly from the starting blocks when signing for their new acquisitions at the 2008 renewal of the Sale this Sunday.
Prize money will be distributed to the first ten horses past the post in Saturday’s prestigious second running of the Ready To Run Cup. The winning owner/s of what is already South Africa’s fourth-richest race will receive R625 000; the 5th placed horse will chalk up R34 500 and the connections of the 10th horse will pocket R16 000 for their efforts.
Trainers interviewed for the race agree that there are no standout bets in the this year’s race and that although the Charles Laird three-time winning Hurricane Force appears to have the best credentials, he is poorly drawn and cannot be considered a “good thing’’ by any means.
Trainer Mark Dixon, who won last year’s race with Umngazi and finished 12th with Prize Flower, who was beaten under seven lengths by her stablemate, comments: “I only have a filly this year in Bellagio, but she’s a smart sort, not inferior to Prize Flower who went on to win three races after the Cup last year. I’m more hopeful than optimistic because I believe the fillies should get a bigger allowance, but we’ll take our chances. It’s a nice race.’’
Dominic Zaki says that his Summerhill graduate Fantasy Flight, by Labeeb, also fell in the “hopeful’’ category. “This will be his first run after gelding. He has a lot of pace, I’m not sure if he will see out 1400m at this stage of his career, but he’s well and perhaps we can take a minor prize.’’
Dean Alexander, representing the Gary Alexander stable, was a tad more optimistic about their pair, The General and Fenerbahce, impressive winners within their first two respective starts. Dean commented: “On what they’ve shown they can both finish somewhere in the money, they will be involved in the finish. Personally I lean towards The General, who is a little more forward than Fenerbahce, but that’s just an opinion.’’
Mike Azzie will put the saddles on gelding Golden Web and filly Thundering Lady and he gave the latter the best chance of earning a stake. “She’s a fair filly and should run well, but her poor draw is a big concern. The gelding is a monster, he has a mind of his own.’’
Mike Azzie opined that his former inmate Thekkady, now with Sean Tarry’s stable, would be the horse to watch for and said: “If Sean has her ready she will be the hard to beat but she’s accumulated Voyager Miles since she left me!”
Sean Tarry confirmed that Thekkady had done some travelling around the country but said she was near ready: “She’s been with me about two months and I’d say she’s 90% ready so we’re expecting a good run.’’
*To find your Emperors Palace Ready To Run contestant for next year, when prize money will go to at least R1,5 million, visit the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale on Sunday 2 November at the TBA Sales Complex, starting at 2pm.
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