“THE JEWEL IN THE THREE YEAR OLD CROWN”
The South African Derby has a rich tradition of producing great horses, and they’re not just great for winning this race, but they have to have the stamina, the talent and the guts, (and plenty of it) to prevail here. Turffontein is renowned as one of the toughest tracks in the world, and especially for its murderous 800m strait, which has broken more hearts than you’d care to remember.
Don’t forget too, that when they’ve repulsed all foes of the conventional Derby distance, (2400m) at Turffontein they’ve still got to find another fifty, for some odd reason, and Saturday won’t necessarily be the first time the lead changes two or three times again in that space.
For the three-year-olds walloping themselves down the lung-busting stretch for R1.5 million on Saturday, anything can happen, since none of them have been tested at the distance, and it’s all up in the air. You’d have to say though, that on class, the obvious horses are Cherise Cherry and Sporting Boy, especially with the withdrawal (sold to Hong Kong) of Mount Hood. We’d not be dismissive though, of the claims of Labeeb’s son, Magical, winner of his last three in a row including the Derby Trial, or Fenerbahce for that matter, who at his best has shown himself entitled to be ranked with the better three-year-olds in the nation. He’s been below par in his last two though, and something’s been amiss, though it comes as a considerable reassurance to see Andrew Fortune claiming the ride. For the record, he was a R425,000 graduate of the Summerhill 2007 2007 Ready To Run draft.
The other Summerhill engage, Mr Softee, comes off a gallant second to Magical in the Derby Trial at his first attempt beyond 1600m, and it may just be that he’s been waiting for this moment to show his best. Curiously, top jockey Sean Cormack takes the ride.