WAR OF ATHENA
Jack Milner: The scratching of Anything Goes from the R900,000 Peermont Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup, presented by BSA, has taken some of gilt off the race.
One of the highlights of Saturday’s Turffontein meeting was to be the second clash between Stuart Pettigrew’s unbeaten filly and Paul Matchett-trained War Of Athena, who finished on her heels in the Grade 1 Thekwini Stakes over 1600m at Greyville.
Anything Goes, a five-time winner, was quoted at 5-10 to pick up the winner’s cheque in this Non-Black Type race over 1400m but she was withdrawn after injuring her wither while in her stable.
As a result, War Of Athena is now quoted at 15-10 to win the race. It has also brought first reserve Mynage, from the Mike de Kock yard, into the field and Diego de Gouveia, who was scheduled to ride Anything Goes, will take the ride.
War Of Athena is now weighted to win this with ease but there is one concern, and that is a wide draw. A good draw is often essential over this course and distance, and in a big field, War Of Athena might need some luck from No 15.
While he is not well handicapped, Paul Peter-trained MK’s Pride is extremely talented and one person who keeps singing his praise is Piere Strydom. Strydom rode the son of Willow Magic in the Grade 2 Umkhomazi Stakes over 1200m at Greyville.
While he finished unplaced after racing very green behind Erik The Red, MK’s Pride did produce the fastest 400m to finish. “He’s a big, strong horse with a lovely action,” said Strydom.
De Kock will be pitting three of his unbeaten colts against one another in the Grade 3 Graham Beck Stakes over 1400m and bookmakers have priced up two-time winner Malmoos at 17-20 with Forever Mine and Al Muthana at 4-1.
De Kock indicated that he would consider running Malmoos in the Cape Guineas in December, but felt he would consider bringing Forever Mine back in trip, even to 1200m.
However, although Al Muthana has not raced since June, he could turn out to be the best of the three.
He might be in need of the run but it would be unwise to leave him out of the Pick 6 and Jackpot.
De Kock could spoil the Sean Tarry party in the Grade 3 HSH Princess Charlene Starling Stakes over 1400m but it won’t be easy. Tarry-trained Ecstatic Green and Caralluma have the right credentials but at odds of 9-2, De Kock-trained Due Diligence could provide the better value as there was a lot to like about her last run over 1200m when a 2.25-length fourth behind War Of Athena.
Although Ecstatic Green did finish ahead of her, Due Diligence produced the fastest 400m to finish and should benefit from the extra 200m and longer run-in.