Thursday, 18 February 2021 13:56



We are still a week away from the curtain coming down on the Cape racing season but it’s pertinent to pause and reflect on developments in that province.


by Gary Lemke, supplied by

We are still a week away from the curtain coming down on the Cape racing season but it’s pertinent to pause and reflect on developments in that province.

Over the years it has become one of racing’s more emotional discussions to compare the standard of horses in the three main provinces against one another.

Cape horses don’t generally travel to Gauteng for their main feature races, only a sprinkling of Gauteng horses go down to the Cape and KwaZulu-Natal don’t generally have the eye-catching champions that suggests the standard of racing there is at the level to match the other two provinces.

Next Saturday is an example. The Cape season closes with only KZN trainer Dennis Driver offering up two sprinters on the card. For the rest it’s all Cape trainers and horses, including in the Grade 1 Cape Derby where the unbeaten Kommetdieding has been priced up odds-on favourite.

It’s this lack of interprovincial seasonal travel which makes the job of the handicappers so difficult. Last week we saw the Gauteng Fillies Guineas and the Gauteng Guineas won by both the favourites, War Of Athens and Malmoos, respectively. It can be strongly argued that these are the top two milers across both sexes in that province.

But the only way we can compare Malmoos, for instance, with the standard of Cape three-year-olds is through his two races in the Cape in November and December. He won the Grade 2 Concorde Cup when starting 4-10 and was then sent off 14-10 favourite for the Cape Guineas. However, he was beaten for the first time in his career when finishing ninth behind 100-1 outsider Russian Rock. On a line through various runners in that race and subsequent races, Malmoos looks to be quite a few lengths behind Kommetdieding, who is unbeaten in his four races and is the best of the Cape three-year-old males. But he’s only rated a 117 by the handicappers, the same as Malmoos, and 3 points below another Gauteng colt Mount Pleasant.

Then you have Captain’s Ransom, who the handicappers might have got right with her 126 rating, which is higher than the two star Gauteng fillies War Of Athena and Anything Goes. But she’s still rated below Summer Pudding who lost for the first time in 10 races when she ran for the first time in the January.

On all exposed form so far this Cape season, the three-year-olds in that province look to be of an extremely high standard, and it was top trainer Candice Bass-Robinson who was left to say, “I really thought that I had some of my better three-year-old fillies in recent seasons. I was excited about the features. But then I bumped into that filly of Justin Snaith’s (Captain’s Ransom).”

The downside is that when racing unearths champions, the owners often decide to send them overseas to race and take advantage of the weak rand and high stakes outside of the country, or send them to stud early to cash in.

What South African racing really needs to ignite more public interest is to have its champions of all ages, and over all distances, from across the provinces race against one another.

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