The juveniles are very much part of Scottsville’s Gr 1 sprint extravaganza on Saturday with two prestigious prizes up for grabs in the form of the Allan Robertson Championship for fillies and the Tsogo Sun Gold Medallion. Any assessment of the form on offer has to include the usual caveat about unpredictable rates of improvement and while there is a reasonable amount of collateral form to work on, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see it thrown out of the window on the day.
Looking at the Allan Robertson, there is an exciting line-up on show and trainer Vaughan Marshall would appear to hold the strongest hand with his coupling of Valdivia (pictured) and All Is Secret.
Valdivia has impressed with each start. Unbeaten in three, her victories have all come by wide margins and she laid to rest any doubts about her ability to see out the 1200m trip when trotting up in a Juvenile Plate at this track last time out. Her prior experience here is bound to be crucial as many a runner has come unstuck when trying Scottsville for the first time. This is her toughest task to date and there could easily be a fast-improving rival ready to topple her but, given what she’s shown so far, she looks the one to beat.
All Is Secret is beautifully bred and recorded an easy debut victory at Kenilworth before appearing in the Debutante over this course and distance last time out. Sent off at short odds, she never really appeared to be travelling that well although she did come to life in the final 300m to fight out a stirring duel with Straight Set, the latter eventually prevailing narrowly. The run may have looked disappointing at such cramped odds but Straight Set is a decent filly who is yet to run a bad race and is pretty battle-hardened, having chased home Franny in two feature races in Gauteng. It was also All Is Secret’s first experience at the track and she may well be the better for it now that she’s had a race there.
And so, on to Franny, the filly who many would have been tipping as the likely winner of this race back in March, in the wake of two impressive feature race victories from as many starts. She certainly looked a champion in the making but was then beaten into third when a hot favourite in the SA Fillies Nursery. In her defence, she was slowly away that day and trainer Gavin van Zyl felt that she was not able to bring her natural speed into play. She’s certainly worth another chance and it would hardly be a surprise to see her bounce back and take the honours here.
The SA Nursery was notable not just for Franny’s defeat but for the victory of debutante King’s Temptress. Now with Kumaran Naidoo but based in Kimberley with Coerie Lensley at the time, she went off at 150/1 and then proceeded to stun watchers with a performance that many a shell-shocked punter will remember for years to come. Racing some way off the pace early on, the daughter of King Of Kings suddenly figured out what it was all about in the closing stages and produced a tremendous turn of foot to record a very convincing victory. Looking at her starting price, it would be easy to dismiss that run as a fluke but she won in considerable style and it would be dangerous to ignore her here.
Trainer Mike de Kock can never be ignored in these big races and he sends out the duo of Al Kindi and Lonsome Dove. Al KIndi fared well enough in her post-maiden effort when staying on for third in the Debutante but, strictly on form, is held by All Is Secret on that run and would need to be improving at a sufficient rate to overturn the form on identical terms. Lonsome Dove, meanwhile, was backed in to odds-on on debut and duly recorded a comfortable victory. She could be absolutely anything and it would be foolish to leave her out of calculations.
Counter Ridge recorded two fluent victories before showing good pace in the Debutante but weakening late into fourth. She does not appear to have much chance on that run but it’s worth noting that she was conceding weight to the one-time winners in that field and is now 2kg better off with All Is Secret and Al Kindi who finished ahead of her. She may be well worth including in the larger quartets.
Sea Shadow was fancied in the Fillies Nursery after two impressive wins but after showing some good early pace, never really threatened when it mattered. She will need to improve considerably on that effort to trouble the more fancied runners here.
Rebel Queen won at the second time of asking in Kimberley but now takes a huge step up in class and it’s hard to see her getting in much of a blow here.
All of which leaves us with Corne Spies’ first-timer Trip To Eden. A month ago, she might have been laughed off by some as an optimistic entry but that’s exactly the mistake that everyone made with King’s Temptress. She’s a daughter of Trippi and it will be interesting to see how she goes here.