(Photo : Gold Circle / Summerhill Stud)
CHAMPIONS CUP (Gr1)
Clairwood, 1800m, 3 July 2010
Pocket Power finds himself in exactly the same position as six-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer, who made a surprise exit from the championships in the quarter finals on Wednesday, beaten by Czech Tomas Berdych.
Jack Milner writes that in his post match interview, Federer revealed that he had been suffering from a number of niggling injuries during the course of the tournament, something quite rare for the winner of a record 16 Grand Slams.
The truth is that Federer, despite still retaining his zest for tennis, is getting on and the younger set have raised the bar considerably.
Pocket Power’s trainer Mike Bass says that his charge still loves his racing, but he is almost eight years old and the competition is becoming tougher. So the champion is now at the crossroads and he will need to prove in Saturday’s Grade 1 Champions Cup over 1800m at Clairwood that he can still give the youngsters a run for their money.
Everybody knows that if he brings his A-game to Clairwood then the Jet Master gelding will be tough to beat. However, that is no longer a certainty and as this event is a conditions race, he has to give weight to all but Smart Banker.
Pocket Power’s exploits are legendary. He is one of the greatest horses to ever race in this country and I will be among those cheering for him at the 200m mark. However, jockey Bernard Fayd’Herbe will need everything to go according to plan from No 11 draw, and will hope Pocket Power can find his celebrated finishing burst.
Bass believes Pocket Power has come on from his Gold Challenge run, in which he finished third. “It’s harder to tell as he gets older. But he’s looking well. He’s drawn badly again as he always seems to be at Clairwood. I suppose the effect of the draw will depend on the pace.”
The dangers look to be Mike de Kock’s pairing of Bold Silvano and Rudra. Bold Silvano was not only a fast-finishing second to stablemate Irish Flame in the Daily News 2000, but beat a field of older horses to win the Betting World 1900m at Greyville. He looks ideally distance suited and has just 55.5kg to carry.
Rudra ran on well in the Gold Challenge over 1600m and will prefer this extra 200m, although he may still need a little further. He gets 2.5kg from both Pocket Power and Smart Banker and Kevin Shea will jump from a No 4 draw. “According to the merit ratings they are both very well in at the weights and they’ve both had very good preps,” said De Kock.
He also said he was not worried about incurring a penalty for the upcoming Vodacom Durban July. “They are well handicapped so if they do win, any merit rating raise given will depend on who they beat. But I don’t believe in being blasé about future Grade 1s. You can out-scheme yourself in this game and you should take what you can get at the time.”
Smart Banker finished a short head off Pocket Power in the Gold Challenge but is better than that run suggests. According to trainer Charles Laird, his charge needed that outing. “I was easy on him after his hard race in testing going in the Champions Challenge at Turffontein. But it’s not going to be easy for him at the weights. Giving a horse like Rudra 2.5kg is going to be very tough. But he’s well.”
I find it difficult to get enthusiastic over the chances of Noordhoek Flyer and believe he is not value at his price, despite all the enthusing of trainer Dean Kannemeyer. He has only taken on three-year-olds and could even battle to beat them in this field. Whatever the excuses he was slammed 3.25 lengths by Bold Silvano in the Daily News and is now 1kg worse off. He is even held by Galileo’s Galaxy on their Guineas run at Kenilworth and Laird has indicated that the Galileo colt could be the stable ace.
“Galileo’s Galaxy came off a long break and needed his last two runs. He is ready for this race and at his best I would not put him far behind the best we have. This is the race we earmarked for him. Anton Marcus is very fit but finds it hard to get down to 54kg these days, so he’s taken the easier option and rides Smart Banker,” explained Laird.
Mike de Kock
NOORDHOEK FLYER (SNL)
Michael De Beer
Mike de Kock
DAN DE LAGO (AUS)
GALILEO’S GALAXY (AUS)
BIG CITY LIFE