The Tsogo Sun Medallion is seldom an easy race to call and this years running is no exception. It's also a race where many a juvenile reputation is made or broken and that is likely to be the case again come Saturday afternoon, as there are some highly-rated sorts in the line-up.
The only three-time winner in the field is Reign Of Kings (pictured) and while he now faces his toughest test, he looks set to rise to the occasion. Narrowly beaten by the tough-as-nails My Jellybean on debut, he has since notched up three comfortable wins on the trot, including the Sentinel Stakes where he avenged his debut defeat. My Jellybean is proving to be a decent yardstick by which to measure the juvenile form in KwaZulu-Natal and Reign Of Kings disposed of him quite comfortably in the Sentinel, indicating that he is a big runner here. He's not a clear-cut selection by any means, as there are some smart-looking sorts in this line-up, but Anthony Delpech and Mike de Kock teaming up with a horse who has pretty much done everything asked of him thus far makes for an attractive bet and the combination could add yet another Gr 1 trophy to their already bulging cabinet.
Ziparana makes the trip down from Gauteng and he should prove more than competitive here if he can repeat his second place to Soft Falling Rain in the SA Nursery. He came in for some support that day, having scored easily on debut, and lost nothing in defeat, given the star quality of his conqueror. Soft Falling Rain would be short odds to win this if he lined up here and Ziparana must have every chance of going one better in his absence.
Twitter has won two of his three starts, including a comfortable win in the Godolphin Barb. He is yet to race beyond 1000m but the way he won his last start suggests he won't have any problem stepping up to six furlongs. Trainer Vaughan Marshall is enjoying a great run at present and Twitter could well give him another feature winner come Saturday.
The enigma of the race is probably Cape Royal. Well backed on debut, he duly trotted up and he could prove to be anything. His pedigree suggests he will probably want further in time but trainer Dean Kannemeyer would not have brought him up to KwaZulu-Natal this winter if he did not consider him a serious runner and he will get maximum assistance from Karl Neisius. Only the race will tell if he is up to the task but he does look an exciting sort.
The Umkhomazi Stakes, run at the beginning of May, should be a logical pointer to this race, as it was run over this course and distance, and the first three from that race lock horns again. Contador showed tremendous fighting spirit to record an all-the-way win over Ottimo and My Jelly Bean but he was all over the place in the closing stages and found himself demoted to third after hampering My Jelly Bean. He definitely knows how to scrap, though, and that's not a bad thing in the heat of battle in a Gr 1. He may still be improving and could make the frame here.
Ottimo looks a smart sort in his own right and has a good record over this course and distance, but was being scrubbed along from early on in the Umkhomazi after being outpaced and he only got going right at the end. He seems the type who will come into his own when stepping up to the middle distances, hardly a surprise when one looks at his pedigree, and he may just find there's too much speed in this race for his liking. My Jelly Bean, on the other hand, is proving a model of consistency, likes the course and distance and seems to have plenty of heart. One can't quite see him winning this, but he has a perfectly reasonable quartet chance.
Fly Me Over has a similar profile to Cape Royal, having won easily on debut over this course and distance. Experience at this tricky venue is never something to be sniffed at and Glen Kotzen's charge has a very attractive pedigree. He could well make an impact here, given natural improvement on that first effort.
Danesco is another one to have won quite fluently first time out and will now be looking to build on that, as will Blizzard Of Ozz, who won well at the second time of asking, and Potent Power, who bounced back to record his second win last time out but in a very small field.
Go Again and Love Struck have both disappointed since shedding their maiden tags and look to have plenty to do on their most recent efforts while Peanuts is still a maiden after two attempts and looks to be up against it there.
That takes care of the male contingent and leaves us with the most intriguing entrant in the race. The fact that Corne Spies has elected to let Straight Set take on the boys instead of running her in the Allan Robertson Championship - a race where she would have been a serious contender - is bound to have raised a few eyebrows but she is talented, has plenty of heart and receives 2.5kg from her male counterparts. Already a Gr 2 winner over this course and distance, she could turn out to have a say in the finish here.