Today's Racecards: Mike De Kocks picks

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This week’s Durban July gallops at Greyville attracted one of its best crowds in years. If this is an indication of what can be expected when the gates open next Saturday, and with restrictions being lifted, the 2022 renewal of the great race will be run in front of a boisterous 30,000-plus racing fans.

Mike de Kock, who put his four contenders through their paces, commented: “It shows that this great race still captivates the minds of the public, we’re all looking forward to next week,” said Mike.

He said about his runners: “We are very happy with their progress. They’ve all had good preparations. Aragosta has impressed me, Sparkling Water is fresh and ready, Safe Passage and Al Muthana are where I want them to be. Now, we just need to keep them ticking over for 10 days.”

Muzi Yeni, who rides the ante-post favourite, Safe Passage, said: “The horse is in a great space, the gallop was phenomenal. I Couldn't have asked for a better prep so I'm very fortunate and pleased to be on him. He has a massive chance."

There is a low-key meeting at Greyville on Sunday ahead of next week’s showpiece, and Mike has entered only one runner, Bold Act, who’ll be taking her place in the R600,000 KZN Breeders Mile. It’s a small, competitive field and he said: “Bold Act is very well, she ran a decent race over 1400m last time and she’s actually well handicapped in this race. She is suspect over 1600m, however, and that is my concern. She ran a big race over 1600m to Rain in Holland at the end of July last year, if she can repeat that, she’s in with a shout. I’d include her, but there will remain doubt about her over this distance.”

Kenilworth stages an exciting nine-race programme with no fewer than six minor feature races on Saturday. Barring the big contenders in Durban, the Cape’s best will go to post here and with good quality racing this is most certainly a meeting that punters should get involved in.

There are two Graded features - the Langerman and the Pocket Power Stakes, with backup from the Listed Irridescence Stakes, the Ladies Mile, the Olympic Duel Stakes and the River Jetez Stakes.

Piet Steyn, who won the Cape Winter Series with Katak in 2020, has an opportunity of doing it again this year with Marsh Shirtliff and Bryn Ressell’s talented Gem King. He’s a five-time winner opposing one and two-time winners of apparently lesser quality in the Pocket Power Stakes over 2400m but he, too, has stamina doubts.

Gem King has won his races over shorter with the authority of a top horse and on pedigree has a fair chance of seeing out the extra. But this will be one of those races where punters will ponder the question, ‘Banker Gem King or take the field?’ and will sway themselves either way. In a seven-horse contest, the ‘field’ option may be the way to go for safety in the exotics.

There is, potentially, a most interesting duel on the cards in the Langerman over 1200m. Candice Bass-Robinson holds the unbeaten Charles Dickens in high regard, he’s twice sauntered home in style; Justin Snaith has We’re Jammin’ to oppose him. He’s a winner of the recent Klawervlei Farm Stakes and similarly impressive in the way he disposes of challengers. Dean Kannemeyer’s promising At My Command could be the proverbial ‘third dog that gets the bone’, which makes this contest all the more mouth-watering.

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Published: 06/24/2022