J&B MET (Grade 1)
Kenilworth, Turf, 2000m
31 January 2015
Is this year's J&B Met going to be a match race between Futura and Louis The King? That seems to be the main point of discussion surrounding this year's R2.5-million event over 2000m at Kenilworth on Saturday.
The scratching of favourite Legislate has certainly taken an element of gilt from the Grade 1 race, but it could still be a thrilling contest.
And there is much else happening on the day itself, with 12 races, two Jackpots and BiPots and a carryover Pick 6 which is expected to garner a R5-million pool.
The L'Ormarins Queen's Plate is often seen as the main pointer to the J&B Met. According to trainer Sean Tarry he cannot see any horse other than those who finished in the first five in the Queen's Plate win this race. The horses who fall into his group are Futura, Louis The King, Gold Onyx, Jet Explorer and Tellina.
"The Met is not a handicap and those five are the best-weighted runners," argues Tarry. "If you look at my runner, Gold Onyx, he finished 1.75 lengths behind Futura in the Queen's Plate and is now 1.5kg better off. That's got to bring him into the race."
The other view is that of Brett Crawford, trainer of Futura. "Yes, I do see this as a two-horse race between my runner and Louis The King."
The issue is going to be the pace because most people agree there isn't going to be any. Justin Snaith saddles five runners and he has already said the slower the race the better it will be for him.
"I don't see any pace either," added Crawford. "But the whole year in every race around the country they've run slowly. I'm sure they won't go that hard so I'm not expecting a pace at all. Futura was able to run them down over an especially slow-run Queen's Plate and he'll be even better over 10 furlongs (2000m)."
Piere Strydom, who rides Louis The King, agrees and is quite wary of his main rival. "The way he quickened past me in the Queen's Plate was very impressive. If the race is turned into a sprint I will have a problem."
However, Geoff Woodruff, who trains Louis The King, is not too concerned. "Believe me, he can quicken up with the best of them. He has improved markedly since the Queen's Plate and is pretty well as fit as ever now. He's got so many assets. Alongside his undoubted ability there is a tough side to him that encompasses a tremendous will to win. He's definitely got a big challenge on his hands but, make no mistake, I put him right up there with the best I have trained."
I agree with Crawford. Either Futura or Louis The King will win the race. They are hard to separate but I will be provincial and go with Louis The King.
Extract from Tab News - Brett Crawford Racing / Geoff Woodruff Racing (p)