Cape Town - There is no out-and-out favourite for Saturday's Cape Met, but four classy horses who have proven credentials at Grade 1 level, will be topping the betting boards at Kenilworth.
Cape Met sponsors World Sports Betting are offering prices between 7/2 and 5/1 each of four classy horses: Durban July winner, Kommetdieding, Cape Guineas victor, Double Superlative, Queens Plate boss, Jet Dark and Daily News victor, Linebacker.
Kommetdieding is the joint-favourite at 7/2 with Jet Dark in the ante-post market. This son of Elusive Fort’s career-best speed figure is 112 which was earned in his historic July victory, and he may well be able to improve on that now that he’s more mature.
Trainer Michelle Rix has Kommetdieding primed to run huge, and he looks certain to be involved in the finish under the steely pilot, Gavin Lerena.
Double Superlative has arguably even more upside potential as a freakishly talented three-year-old who has already managed 108 +. Trainer Justin Snaith is seriously excited about his charge’s prospects on the back of some outstanding recent workouts.
On pedigree, this longer route (compared to the Guinness) should suit Double Superlative. It’s hard to anticipate precisely how good Double Superlative will turn out, however, both the professional Snaith Racing outfit and jockey 'Superman’ Marcus appear to have great faith in this son of Twice Over.
Snaith also saddles, Jet Dark who was imperious in his Queens Plate romp, backed up by a towering figure of 115. However, different circumstances apply as he now stretches out from a mile to 2000m. He attained a similarly big fig of 114 when scoring in the Champions Cup at Greyville at the end of July 2021 over 1800m, so maybe an easy run 2000m journey will be within his ambit.
Linebacker recorded 111 + when beaten by Kommetdieding in the July. On reflection, jockey Grant van Niekerk felt he could have ridden a better race on that occasion, is thrilled to be reunited with his mount (after a mooted return to riding in Hong Kong did not materialise,) and is confident of making amends this time around on Vaughan Marshall’s entry.
Critics may knock Linebacker’s somewhat dull build-up prep in the 1600m Queen’s Plate when beaten out the placing three lengths back. His jockey on that occasion Craig Zackey explained that Linebacker was off the bit early and out of his comfort zone in that torridly run race.
It’s conceivable that Linebacker reverts to his usual high-class form in a Met race likely to be run to suit. He did, after all, win the G1 Cape Derby over this course and distance last year with a tremendous figure of 117. On that, he has a distinct winning claim!
Trying to split strong contenders using fine line handicapping is a fraught undertaking. The betting market has the probabilities about right – the likelihood that one of these four will win is around 75% - 80%. Many exotic bettors will be quite confident in locking up this leg of the Jackpot and P6 with these four popular choices.
Are there others in the field with plausible claims of upsetting and thus worth adding to bigger permutations? That leads us to the next tier of horses with back-up chances - Do It Again, Hoedspruit and lone filly, Marina.
Do It Again is now rising eight and a difficult customer who mixes his form as he struggles with advancing years and a problem with ulcers. At best he is truly brilliant, possessing a career peak speed fig of 115, but gamblers taking the 10/1 about him must live with the consequences if he is simply not in the mood on Saturday and just goes through the motions.
Trainer Snaith concedes it’s possible that this dual July winner prefers sub-tropical climes and reserves his absolute peak efforts for Durban these days.
Hoedspruit best figure of 108 is on the cusp of what it takes to win a Met. In the final analysis, others could prove too classy, but he is no forlorn hope for a place. He won the Premier Trophy with fluent rails run in a final time (and with a finishing fraction) that was considerably quicker than Marina managed over the same course and distance on the same day.
However, it’s unwise to knock Marina (s/s 106) on that Paddock Stakes near-miss over 1800m. She prefers a strongly run 2000m so will love the longer distance of the Met and Candice Bass Robinson is happy with Marina’s physical condition going into the biggest test of her career.
Four outsiders are trying to buck market probabilities and go against the populist vote. The best of them on the figures is Cirillo who ran a huge race in the 2020 Green Point Stakes close to Belgarion and recently retired champ, Rainbow Bridge. He does seem to love going left-handed at Kenilworth and could be a surprise pace influence. However, Cirillo’s recent form has been dreary - hence quotes of 50/1 and upwards about Sean Tarry’s raider.
Fellow Highveld trainer, Johan Janse van Vuuren has two entries, Second Base and Puerto Manzano. Both rate 105’s which is below the historic par of 108 required to shape in a “typical” Met.
In defence of Second Base - he did get within spitting distance of Got the Greenlight in a G1 over this distance last year and was under three lengths off Linebacker and Kommetdieding in the G1 Daily News so with improvement might be able to place and swell the trifecta/quartet dividends.
That leaves Rockin Ringo who is liable to force the issue as pacemaker and is a tough scrapper admired for his fierce determination when challenged. He always gives it a full go up front yet falls well short of what it takes on pure ability (s/s 104) in a potent Met field stacked with premium class thoroughbreds.