Danie Toerien: You don’t win a Grade 1 race just by pitching up.
That’s trainer Joe Soma’s approach to Saturday’s Grade 1 HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes over 1600m, where he will be saddling the favourite, Got The Greenlight.
“He’s a champion in his own right and he is the horse to beat,” said Soma.
“He’s done very well since his last run, he’s definitely fitter, and we are expecting a big performance. But we are well aware that there is no such thing as an easy race.
According to Soma, Got The Greenlight is in better shape now than when he ran second in the Grade 2 Hawaii Stakes recently after a break of almost eight months.
“He has improved from his last run. He’s definitely a fitter horse this time round and we have very high expectations.
“But it’s a Grade 1 race and all the runners deserve respect,” said the trainer.
He singled out Cirillo, trained by Sean Tarry, and the Stuart Pettigrew-trained Expressfromtheus as the biggest threats.
“On a big race day, Sean Tarry’s runners grow another leg. I do have great respect for Cirillo.
“And of course, there’s Expressfromtheus. He commands great respect and he’s never done anything wrong. We are expecting a very strong challenge from them.”
Expressfromtheus boasts the phenomenal record of never having finished outside the top four in any of his 15 career runs.
Jockey Muzi Yeni will be aboard Got The Greenlight for the third consecutive time. Having been runner-up on both previous occasions – first in the Vodacom Durban July and then in the Hawaii Stakes, he will undoubtedly hope to go one better.
The latest betting yesterday afternoon was: 17-20 Got The Greenlight, 7-1 Expressfromtheus, 10-1 Cirillo, Copper Mountain, 14-1 Tierra Del Fuego, Pack Leader, 16-1 Ikigai, 18-1 Capoeira, 20-1 Whorly Whorly, Savannah Storm, 28-1 Chijmes.