A compact field of nine runners, including the exciting three-year-old filly Snowdance, will face the starter for the R1-million, Grade 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge over 1 600m at Greyville on Saturday where a total of 10 Vodacom Durban July hopefuls will feature on the programme in a final bid for a place in the premier event on July 7.
Just three July contenders will compete in the Rising Sun Gold Challenge with the other seven running in the R300 000, Grade 3 Cup Trial over 1 800m which has a field of 12 that includes the favourite for Africa’s greatest race, African Night Sky.
Snowdance, the Justin Snaith-trained winner of the Cape Fillies Guineas and the Majorca Stakes before being upstaged in the Daisy Fillies Guineas at Greyville by Fiorella, is supported in the race by stable companion Copper Force but the pair face a formidable team of three from the Brett Crawford yard comprising Captain America, Sail South and Undercover Agent.
None are July entries but all three are highly accomplished in their careers with the three-year-old just being touched off by Perovskia in the Independent On Saturday Drill Hall Stakes and the other two finishing within a length off Legal Eagle in the Grade 1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate.
Champion trainer Sean Tarry has two runners in the field including his Vodacom Durban July candidate Liege. The five-year-old Dynasty gelding has not raced since winning the Grade 1 Summer Cup in November and technically should not be allowed to compete. However, discussions were taking place between Gold Circle and the National Horseracing Authority on the gelding’s participation.
The Cup Trial will be followed with great interest with July favourite African Night Sky in the field. The four-year-old Dynasty gelding was just touched off by Star Express in a Pinnacle Stakes race over 1 600m in his only local run this season but is highly rated on his exposed ability and as long as he gives a good account of himself on Saturday his July place is secure.
Among his opposition is the Russian Sage gelding Perovskia from the Harold Crawford stable that caused an upset when winning the Independent Of Saturday Drill Hall Stakes and the Querari gelding Head Honcho that has won his last three starts including the Sledgehammer.
R 1,000,000 1600m (Turf)
RISING SUN GOLD CHALLENGE (Grade 1)
Horse Mass MR Draw Jockey Trainer
1 CAPTAIN AMERICA 60.0 124 4 …………… Brett Crawford
2 SAIL SOUTH 60.0 123 1 B Fayd’Herbe Brett Crawford
3 GOLD STANDARD 60.0 117 8 R Fourie Glen Kotzen
4 COPPER FORCE 60.0 111 9 C Murray Justin Snaith
5 LIEGE 60.0 110 6 *L Hewitson Sean Tarry
6 TRIP TO HEAVEN 60.0 110 7 S Khumalo Sean Tarry
7 UNDERCOVER AGENT 58.5 111 2 …………… Brett Crawford
8 ROY HAD ENOUGH 58.5 110 5 S Veale Frank Robinson
9 SNOWDANCE 56.0 114 3 G van Niekerk Justin Snaith