Excitement is mounting as Classic Day looms. Summerhill-breds Heaps Of Fun and Witchcraft line up in the Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic with the former taking up poll position. Fellow Summerhill-bred Champagne Haze takes on the colts in the SA Classic.

Nicci Garner - Many punters looking for a banker in Saturday’s carryover Pick 6 will reach for trainer Sean Tarry and seriously consider two of his runners at the meeting, Legal Eagle and Heaps of Fun.

The ruling champion trainer, who is the leading the championship by some way this season, says: “I wouldn’t dissuade anybody from bankering either horse” and is cautiously optimistic about their chances.

Legal Eagle is the top-rated runner still racing in South Africa and will line up in the R1million HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes over 1600m. The race is run at weight-for-age and Legal Eagle is at least 1.50 lengths better than any of his rivals in the race.

“He is going for the R4million President’s Champions Challenge so this is a prep race and while I believe he’s a better horse over 2000m, he did win the L'Ormarins Queen’s Plate over 1600m in January. So it would not be foolhardy to judge him a suitable banker. But we’re hopeful rather than confident. If he wins, that’ll be fantastic.”

Sean Tarry will also field Halve The Deficit in the Grade 1 race and believes he must not be left out of Quartets.

“He pulled up with a virus in the SANSUI Summer Cup so we had to give him time. I wasn’t unhappy with his sprint-up, when seventh in an 1100m Pinnacle race. He’ll be thereabouts.”

Heaps Of Fun wins the Wilgerbosdrift Gauteng Fillies Guineas / JC Photos (p)

Heaps Of Fun, who races in the R1million Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic over 1800m, beat 10 of these rivals when winning the Gauteng Fillies Guineas in February.

She races over 1800m for the first time, but Tarry says: “I think she’s probably looking for the ground and don’t see a problem with the distance.”

He did confirm that he is certainly not going to restrict the filly to front-running tactics again.

“That was our game plan in the Fillies Guineas. She hadn’t been racing from the front before that, but I knew tactically it would work for us because the others wouldn’t worry about us.

“She’s a simple, laid-back and straightforward horse, who came out of the Fillies Guineas nicely. She’ll be competitive, for sure,” he said.

Negroamaro, who started favourite in the Fillies Guineas and finished a 0.90-length second, is the horse he fears most because “there is a lot of talk about how good she is and I’m not sure if there were excuses in that race”.

Mike de Kock’s coupling, Noor and Persian Rug, have scope for improvement over the distance, but I make the grey filly the horse to beat.”

Tarry’s other runner in the SA Fillies Classic is Witchcraft. She won over 2000m in her last race and “the form has worked out well,” said Tarry. “She’s definitely an Oaks filly and this will be a nice test for her in this kind of company. We’ll see how she handles the jump in class. If she handles it, I wouldn’t expect her to get beaten too far. She’s very well.”

He has four runners in the topliner at the meeting, the R2million SA Classic, Malak El Moolook, Lunar Approach, Liege – the choice of stable rider S’manga Khumalo – and Samurai Blade.

Tarry believes they all have a bit to do on merit ratings and says: “If I get a piece of the pie I won’t be unhappy.”

He points out there were valid reasons why they can do better this time.

Malak El Moolook didn’t disgrace himself in finishing third behind Abashiri and Champagne Haze in the Gauteng Guineas and he got his tongue over the bit when well beaten by Liege last time out. We’ll try a tongue tie and see if that helps. But he is suspect over the trip.

Liege had a problem in the stalls on Guineas Day but won his next race very well. I knew he was capable but the runner-up Count Tassilo was badly out at the weights. He won well enough and couldn’t do more than that.

Lunar Approach’s saddle slipped in the Gauteng Guineas so you can’t read much into him finishing last.

“The interesting runner is Samurai Blade, who is only having his second run for the yard. I’d planned to run him in the Derby Trial but his prep run – when second in a Pinnacle Plate – was so good, I thought I’d take a chance and see how he goes in this race.”

Are any of them underrated, in his opinion? “Maybe Lunar Approach is lurking under the radar,” he says. “It didn’t work out for him in Cape Town and he only had one run – in the CTS Million. But I don’t think Liege has done much wrong either.

“They’ve all been well prepared and with a clean run, we’ll see where they fit in.”

Another runner he believes can do well is very talented but temperamental Cloth Of Clouds. “She’s interesting because depending on how she does, we’ll decide whether to take on the colts in the SA Nursery at the end of the month or go against the fillies.”

As for his other runners on the day, he says none of them can be summarily discarded. “I’ve got a lot of good horses running and they should be competitive throughout, but it’s hard racing and nothing really stands out.”

Extracts from Tab News