Gilded MinaretTrainer Mike de Kock is the man to beat in Saturday’s Gr 1 SA Fillies Classic with his powerful coupling of Gilded Minaret and Brazilian-bred Rat Burana standing out in a 13-strong field.

Rat Burana, champion juvenile last season, has yet to win in three starts as a 3-year-old, but she has not disgraced herself in defeat. Third place in the Sceptre Stakes was not a bad effort after an eight-month layoff and she followed that up with a respectable fourth in the Majorca Stakes, in what was her first attempt at a mile. She then swerved the Gauteng Fillies Guineas to take on the older fillies in the Empress Club Stakes and came desperately close there, only edged out late by the formidable Stratos. A repeat of that run would make her the one to beat here, if she gets the 1800m trip. Kevin Shea is in the irons which should go a long way to negate a poor draw.

Gilded Minaret flew up late when pipped by Captain’s Lover in the Cape Fillies Guineas and then appeared to tire at the death when fifth in the Paddock Stakes in a race where she perhaps raced a bit too handily for her liking. It’s worth noting that her best efforts have come when she is unleashed late - witness her superb win in last year’s Golden Slipper on July day - and that may be the key to her chances on Saturday.

Glenrossal is an admirable sort who has been keeping top company throughout her career and always giving of her best. She was a worthy winner of the Gauteng Fillies Guineas, on which run she holds a number of her rivals in this race. The only concern is how she will fare over the extra furlong but if she does stay, she should have a say in the finish.

Urabamba has been running consistently well and although twice beaten by Glenrossal this season, was seen to be running on strongly on both occasions. She was gaining with every stride on the latter in the Gauteng Fillies Guineas and that run suggests she has a strong chance of reversing the form over this longer trip.

There were others who finished just behind these two in the Gauteng Fillies Guineas and Miss Turbulence, who did not enjoy much luck in running that day, caught the eye when finishing late for fourth. She is another who is likely to find the step up in trip to her liking.

Blue Swift was not disgraced in fifth, just a neck behind Miss Turbulence and she was only having her third career start that day, having won her first two. One can only guess at what rate she is improving at the moment, but she looks well above average and could well make the placings.

Acoustical (eighth) and Albizia (ninth) both attracted the market support in that race but failed to kick on when it mattered. In Albizia’s case, something was amiss with the stable that day and with the Geoff Woodruff yard looking in much better form of late, she may yet get to prove that she is better than that run. She is another of those who is looking to turn the Fillies Guineas form around by virtue of going up in trip, as she has already won twice over this distance.

Moneycantbuymelove opted for the Empress Club Stakes and faded quickly in the straight but had earlier showed some promise when running on for third in the Fillies Mile. Like stablemate Albizia, she will be looking to bounce back from a bad day at the office and although she has not yet shown the form to trouble the Mike de Kock pair, she could make the placings.

Laser Fan kicked off 2008 with a narrow win in the Flamboyant Stakes but has since been beaten against much weaker than this. She will need to step up significantly to get competitive here.

Flight Queen, Grandalea and Mat Gold all have fair form to their names, but face a huge step up in class here and it is hard to see them troubling the big guns.

Extract from SA