Cape Town - “You don’t only have to be good, you have to be lucky too!”
Trainer Dean Kannemeyer has conceded that he needed more than a bottle of the sponsor’s best to overcome the disappointment of drawing the widest gate for next weekend's Sun Met at Kenilworth racecourse for his smashing Western Winter colt, Last Winter.
ODDS: Latest BET.co.za Sun Met odds
Talking to the Sporting Post website after Wednesday’s barrier draw at the V&A Waterfront, he said that he would be bluffing if pretending that the 20 draw was ‘okay’.
“I have been in racing long enough to know that we have to take the good with the bad - and the draw lottery outcome is the rub of the green, but we smile and box on - albeit a touch dazed. But hell, I just feel that we have been patient and done everything right with Last Winter - and now we get a kick in the pants with a 20 draw! But somebody had to get it and owner Lady Laidlaw has been very sporting about it.”
In a rare show of public emotion, Kannemeyer turned to MC Clyde Basel after lifting the bad bottle and quipped - ‘remember the last time I pulled a 20 draw in a Grade 1?’.
He was, of course, referring to his champion Dynasty in the 2003 Durban July.
“I was bloody disappointed. This is a sport. Emotion is part of the game. I am no John McEnroe though and I’m okay now!”
He added that on the plus side he had a top horse on his hands, and probably had the greatest jockey in the country capable of overcoming the odds.
“The top jockeys have a knack of getting out of awkward situations. It is a Grade 1, there are 19 other horses and I expect the pace to be on. It will be a true run race - that’s all we really want in the top races - and I expect Piere (Strydom) will drop him out and we hope to get a bit of luck in the straight,” he said.
With just eight days to go to the big day, the ante-post market has been put to bed and the impact of the barrier draws has settled into a more reasoned debate.
The various camps are now finding reasons why they can still win it and the market has shown some confidence in the ability of Anton Marcus and superstar Legal Eagle to overcome a 15 gate. The dual SA Horse of the Year is joint favourite with Marinaresco at 5/1 at BET.co.za, while Last Winter has drifted to 13/2.
Retired champion jockey Garth Puller said that he didn’t blame Kannemeyer for feeling disappointed, but recalled that Strydom showed his genius when winning the July on The Conglomerate in 2016 - and he felt he was capable of producing a similar performance on Last Winter.
“Piere is the man for the job. And I like Last Winter as he is a young up-and-coming horse. On paper it may appear difficult for him at those weights but we haven’t seen the best of what he can do yet, I think!”
Puller, who rode Sean Tarry’s first Met winner Alastor, said that Legal Eagle had to be the horse to beat. He cautioned that the public should not be fooled by the appearance of a hard race and exertion in the Queen’s Plate.
“Sean knows how to freshen and ready top horses for Grade 1’s. Legal Eagle will bounce back on Met day, ready to fire. I don’t believe his 15 draw is a major issue either. And there is no pressure on Anton - and he can handle it anyway,” he said with a smile.
He speculated that Marcus could settle Legal Eagle midfield as he was a horse with a kick. “He will have the gears at the business end, and while he is lethal at a mile, he is no slouch over the 2 000m.”
As for the pace, Puller confirmed the Kannemeyer rationale that a pace would be on.
“It is a Grade 1 race. There are no friendships when the gates spring. Two things create pace - inside horses holding position and keeping the outside horses out, who are trying to get in. Look how Anton rode Legal Eagle in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate. It’s called race-riding. He kept them out and after 300m he relaxed back,” he added.
20-horse field for the 2018 Sun Met on Saturday, January 27:
(Under number, draw, horse, weight, merit rating, jockey, trainer)
1 - 15 - Legal Eagle - 60 - 123 - Anton Marcus - Sean Tarry
2 - 3 - Captain America - 60 - 118 - Corne Orffer - Brett Crawford
3 - 13 - Marinaresco - 60 - 118 - Aldo Domeyer - Candice Bass-Robinson
4 - 17 - Sail South - 60 - 117 - Greg Cheyne - Brett Crawford
5 - 12 - Silicone Valley - 60 - Piet Botha - Glen Puller
6 - 14 - Krambambuli - 60 - Brandon Lerena - Justin Snaith
7 - 1 - Nebula - 60 - 105 - Sean Veale - Brett Crawford
8 - 11 - Elusive Silva - 60 - 101 - Robert Khathi - Justin Snaith
9 - 10 - Coral Fever - 60 - 100 - Musi Yeni - Robbie Sage
10 - 9 - Gold Standard - 59.5 - 113 - Richard Fourie - Glen Kotzen
11 - 7 - Copper Force - 59.5 - 109 - Lyle Hewitson - Justin Snaith
12 - 20 - Last Winter - 59.5 - 107 - Piere Strydom - Dean Kannemeyer
13 - 2 - Heavenly Blue (AUS) - 59.5 - 106 - Callan Murray - Mike de Kock
14 - 8 - African Night Sky - 59.5 - 102 - Bernard Fayd’Herbe - Justin Snaith
15 - 19 - Horizon - 59.5 - 98 - Anthony Andrews - Candice Bass-Robinson
16 - 18 - Nother Russia - 57.5 - 108 - Craig Zackey - Mike de Kock
17 - 4 - Nightingale - 57.5 - 105 - MJ Byleveld - Candice Bass-Robinson
18 - 16 - Safe Harbour - 57 - 101 - Raymond Danielson -Sean Tarry
19 - 5 - Cascapedia (IRE) - 56 - 103 - Anthony Delpech - Mike de Kock
20 - 6 - Oh Susanna (AUS) - 51.5 - 108 - Grant van Niekerk - Justin Snaith