The fields for Saturday’s big day at Turffontein have just been released and gratifyingly, runners from Summerhill are deeply represented in all but two of the eight Stakes events. Despite the tragic loss of Emperor Napoleon our biggest and surest hope on the day, we still have four out of the fourteen entries (almost 30% in South Africa’s richest race the Gomma Gomma Challenge). They are Pick Six (last year’s hero), Catmandu, Desert Links and Fork Lightening. Catmandu and Desert Links are the two “wild cards”, and on a straight line of his form in the Horse Chestnut (Gr1), Catmandu will go close at the weights to turning the tables on the winner of that race, Our Giant. All things being equal, which they aren’t because he’s drawn 13 out of 14, he’s a live chance.
At the same time, Basil Marcus is bullish on the prospects of Desert Links, after his recent highly impressive victory, and while this is a big step up, a man of Basil’s standing wouldn’t make the trip to altitude lightly. For what it’s worth, Our Giant is likely to start favourite, so there may be value in our two runners. Don’t dismiss Pick Six though. He’s been there before, and he’s reportedly as well as ever.
As an illustration of the depth of quality runners emerging from Summerhill right now, (four of the first six home in Saturday’s KZN Guineas were “graduates”), we have another eleven engaged at Saturday’s big race meeting, and a further eight that were sired here. In the big juvenile race of the day, the SA Nursery, there are three Summerhill youngsters involved, Hurricame Force, Mpumelelo and Mdansi, all graduates of November’s Ready to Run sale, and all eligible for the R1 million + Emperor’s Palace Ready to Run Cup due to be staged on 2nd November 2008.