(Gold Circle)

charl pretoriusCharl Pretorius FreeracerThe pace is hotting up for the running of the R1,25m Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup on 1 November, with the emergence of a couple of new superstars.

Remember this is the event, worth R500 000 in its inaugural year, which produced the formidable likes of Imbongi, Umngazi, Galant Gagnant, and Art Of War, three of whom are winging their way to Dubai and Hong Kong after realising massive returns on their cost at the races, and the submission of fantastical seven-figure sums for their acquisition.

And let’s not forget that while he’s still here, Umngazi was also the target of a multi-million rand offer, just after he took down the colours of Imbongi in the Ready To Run Cup.

A fortnight ago, Sishebo (by Kahal), the subject of an astute R110,000 purchase by Moneyweb’s Alec Hogg and his cousin Louis Kruger, popped up at Clairwood, the seven length runaway winner of her second start, giving clear notice to the colts that their 2kg weight allowance to the fairer sex might not be enough to keep her away from the lion’s share of the R1,25 million stake, come the first Saturday in November.

Earlier this week Ingrid and Markus Jooste’s Hurricane Force (an own brother by Muhtafal to last year’s hero Umngazi), posted his third very impressive victory from five career starts, and is a likely favourite for the big race in two months time. His conditioner Charles Laird is no stranger to “Ready To Run” success either, having seen the exceptional likes of Bianconi (the first horse, of only two, to beat the mighty Dynasty), millionaire Amphitheatre and six time winners Mtunzini  and Country Hideway, pass through his hands, besides the Black type scorer, Optima Maxima.

That’s not the end though. Saturday witnessed an unusual debut victory for The General (by Muhtafal), who’s showing tells us he could just about be anything. Gary Alexander’s runners are never properly wound up on debut, so this R40 000 buy for popular (and richly deserving) owner,
Fred Crabbia, could well be the shrewd punters’ early fancy for the Big One.
Fred looks to have a healthy hand for the race, as his Australian-bred Unyazi has found the money in both his starts to date, and the 1400m of the standside track at Turffontein is pretty much custom made for him.

There’s also a lot of talk emerging from the Turffontein work-watchers that the Alexanders will not be single-handed for the race. Apparently there are three or four thought up to the mark, and they could have everyone “surrounded” when we get to the “O.K. Corral” on the first day of November.