Kennedy for feature double

Newly installed champion jockey Warren Kennedy can come away from Hollywoodbets Greyville on Saturday with at least two feature-race victories

This is a race meeting for connoisseurs – no Maiden Plates, no low-level handicaps – just 10 races on the card and every one a feature.

The card includes the country’s premier stayers’ event, the Grade 3 World Sports Betting Gold Cup over 3200m, and four Grade 1 races – the Mercury Sprint over 1200m, the Champions Cup over 1800m as well as the Premiers Champion Stakes and Thekwini Stakes, both over 1600m.

There is a lot at stake for many of the runners as winning performances could be capped with the awarding of an Equus Award, which will be revealed early in September.

To match the quality of the racing, there are a number of carryovers going forward to boost the pools, specifically the Pick 6, Jackpot 1, Quartet on the Gold Cup (Race 7) and Trifecta on the Mercury Sprint (Race 8).

With R1-million ballooning the Pick 6 MEGAPOOL, that pot is expected to reach R8 million, Jackpot 1 starts off with R250,000 and should get to R2.5 million, the Quartet MAXIPOOL has R500,000 added and is expected to get to R4 milllion, and the Trifecta starts with R200,000 and is likely to reach R1 million.

Despite all the problems surrounding South African racing, including the more than two months lost due to the coronavirus lockdown, Kennedy had a dream 2019/20 season. He had the jockeys’ championship wrapped up way before the country went into lockdown and could afford to sit around and just wait for the season to expire on 31 July.

He has some decent rides at Greyville tomorrow, in particular Marchingontogether in the Gold Cup and Rainbow Bridge in the Champions Cup.

Both runners sit second on the bookmakers’ boards, and both races appear to be a match in two. Marchingontogether is quoted at 33-10 behind 2018 winner It’s My Turn who is favourite at 5-2.

What could decide the outcome is which of the two stays better.

It’s My Turn has no stamina doubts. He did suffer an injury which had him out of racing for almost a year, but he has been brought back well by trainer Dean Kannemeyer and this race must be his main mission for the season.

Gavin van Zyl-trained Marchingontogether is relatively new to the stayers’ ranks. He was racing over middle distances until March, when Van Zyl put him over 2400m for the first time. Despite carrying 62kg and conceding 5.5kg to winner he finished a 0.70-length second behind Paths Of Victory.

He marching on forward with an emphatic victory in the Grade 3 Lonsdale Stirrup Cup and followed that up with another win over 2400m in the Grade 3 Track & Ball Derby at Scottsville.

In that last start, he beat It’s My Turn by 1.25 lengths and will now meet his conqueror on 4kg better terms. So, if he stays the additional 800m, Marchingontogether should retain the advantage.

“He has won well over 2400m and I don’t think the extra distance will be a concern,” said Kennedy on Wednesday. “He’s a nice horse, he’s doing very well at home, and I make him a big runner.

“It’s My Turn is the horse to beat but we did beat him convincingly in the Derby.

Marchingontogether is out of a Montjeu mare so there should be solid staying blood in this five-year-old gelding.

Looking beyond these two, the runners who stand out are Imperial Ruby and Factor Fifty. Both are proven stayers and they won’t be wanting from the irons as Piere Strydom rides Imperial Ruby and Anton Marcus is on Factor Fifty, who will be sporting blinkers for the first time.

The much-awaited 11th showdown between Do It Again and Rainbow Bridge should be a cracker. They have split the spoils 5-5 and it will be interesting to see who clinches this one.

Rainbow Bridge is the defending champion and Kennedy believes Rainbow Bridge will be able to reverse the Vodacom Durban July defeat to Do It Again when they meet on Saturday.

“It definitely looks a two-horse race, but I really think Rainbow Bridge will win,” said Kennedy.

“This time we’re racing over 1800m, which is the perfect trip for him, and he’s doing very well at home.”

Many believe Do It Again and Marcus will have the upper hand after having finished 1.70 lengths ahead of Rainbow Bridge, who had to overcome a wide draw.

But Kennedy explained that the way the race was run did not pan out for his mount while this time they have a smaller field and they all will carry 60kg.

Kennedy added that Rainbow Bridge was probably his best ride on the 10-race card.

While one of the other runners could possibly split them it would come as major shock if one of the two failed to win.

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