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Posted 2020-11-25 13:04:34  
CHARLES SET TO WEAR SUMMER CUP CROWN

All eyes will be on Summer Pudding when the reigning Horse of the Year lines up for the Gr 1 World Sports Betting Gauteng Summer Cup over 2000m at Turffontein on Saturday, writes  SAHorseracing.COM's Mark Anthony. 

Unbeaten in eight starts to date, the Paul Peter-trained star lit up last season when becoming only the third filly in history to win all three legs of the Triple Tiara, before travelling down to Durban to complete a thrilling victory in the Gr 1 Woolavington Stakes over 2000m.

Her seasonal return was in a Pinnacle event over 1600m where she cantered home against a small field of outgunned rivals just over a fortnight ago and she now steps out for the sternest test of her career.

While there’s no doubting her class, Summer Pudding has yet to race in open company and, with 59kg to shoulder, has to concede weight to nearly all her rivals, many of whom are battle-hardened campaigners at this sort of level. Probably the most popular horse in the country, the heart would love to see her win it, but the head suggests that she may have to settle for the placings for the first time in her career.

The preference is for the 5-y-o gelding Charles, whose record of three wins from 16 starts does not necessarily inspire the greatest confidence, but who caught the eye when second in the Charity Mile at the end of October. He looked a winner entering the last furlong, only to be run out of it late by Hudoo Magic. He has obviously come on with each run since relocating to the Mike de Kock yard and will be perfectly tuned up for his main mission on Saturday. With Callan Murray in the irons and only 55kg on his back, he looks to be a strong contender to give his trainer yet another win in this long-established race.

The current king of the Cup is undoubtedly Sean Tarry who goes for his fourth win in a row. Last year’s winner Zillzaal was given a brilliant front-running ride to hold off Soqrat in 2019 and was then off the track for eleven months. He returned to action in the Charity Mile and ran a cracking race in the circumstances, finishing a close fifth. He does, however, carry 7.5kg more than when winning last year and it remains to be seen if he can defy joint top weight here.

Tarry has four other runners, of whom Tierra Del Fuego shares top weight and warrants respect on his efforts behind Hawwaam at Gr 1 level last season, albeit he hasn’t been able to reproduce that form since. Tree Tumbo took a big step up in class in the Charity Mile and acquitted himself well in finishing fourth. There may be more to come from him. Victoria Paige and Cornish Pomodoro complete the stable’s quintet and need to find more here, although the latter is relatively lightly raced and may still be coming into his own.

Christopher Robin entered the Summer Cup conversation when winning the Victory Moon over 1800m in good style. St John Gray is no stranger to this race and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the familiar green and while silks involved in the finish.

Astrix chased home Christopher Robin in the Victory Moon, having finished a close sixth in the Charity Mile. He was drawn wide in both those races and now jumps from gate 3. Handily weighted, and with Piere Strydom in the irons, he must be respected.

Pack Leader has taken on some strong opposition in the past and won convincingly last time out, having lost ground in his previous start when beaten by Cornish Pomodoro. He looks to have adapted well to racing inland and should be included in trifectas and quartets.

Divine Odyssey has been there, done that, and was far from disgraced when seventh in the Vodacom Durban July. His two runs since then have not been up to scratch but he would have been prepped with this race in mind and is capable of a bold showing here.

Youcanthurrylove bounced back from a few disappointing efforts when third in the Charity Mile. He has a handy weight and is a danger here at his best.

Tristful was well below his best in the Charity Mile but had to overcome a horrible draw and is worth another chance. His form prior to that was very consistent and included a close fifth behind some of the best horses around in the Champions Cup. A repeat of that effort would see him in the mix here.

Crown Towers represents the powerful combination of Justin Snaith and Richard Fourie and will have to bounce back from a disappointing effort when fancied in the Charity Mile. He went for home quite early but could not sustain his effort on that occasion. He is capable of better but this testing 2000m may stretch his stamina.

Running Brave has shown her liking for this trip as a dual winner of the Gold Bracelet against her own sex but will need to show more in open company.

Former SA Derby winner Hero’s Honour is not out of it on his best form, but he is not the most consistent and it is difficult to know what to expect from him.

Riverstown, Atyaab, Seven Patriots and Dance Class complete the line-up and they all look to have a bit to do in this field. 

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