Industry Press

The Gatekeeper On Track For Cape Derby

Justin Snaith has made no secret of The Gatekeeper being his Vodacom Durban July horse this season and thus one of his chief concerns ahead of Saturday week’s Grade 1 Jonsson Workwear Cape Derby is his merit rating.

He also sent out a message on behalf of his star filly Captain’s Ransom to the Highveld saying. “I am not in the slightest bit scared of War Of Athena.”

He said about the three-year-old colt The Gatekeeper, who is a full brother to his first July winner Legislate and who is owned by the Cape Derby’s new sponsor Nick Jonsson, “He is a very special horse and I would not be doing all this planning if that was not the case. We will do everything to protect his rating even if it means having to appeal. The concern is the merit rating leaps a three-year-old can take, for example if he wins the Derby he goes to 120 then if he wins the Daily News he goes to 125.”

Snaith said he would see what The Gatekeeper’s rating was after the Cape Derby before deciding which route to take in to the July.

The highest rated horse in the country at present is July-bound Rainbow Bridge on 134, so The Gatekeeper would have to be rated higher than 124 to carry more than the minimum weight of 53kg for a three-year-old male in the July. He is unlikely to get more than 120 for winning the Derby as the highest rated horse among the entries is Kommetdieding on 117.

Snaith said The Gatekeeper, who ran a 2,05 length fifth in the Grade 1 Cape Guineas last time out, was “very well” and added, “He is immature and if they don’t beat him in the Derby they are not going to beat him in four months time in the Daily News.”

Snaith also runs Hoedspruit in the Cape Derby.

He said, “He is doing very well at home but is losing his races because he is always too far back. He is finishing three to five lengths back and needs to up his game so I am pushing the envelope with him to see if we can close that gap. The mile to 1800m might have been too short too so we’re hoping he will be a nice horse over 2000m and run into the money.”

Snaith believes Jonsson Workwear Cape Derby day is on its way to joining the Cape Town Met and L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Racing Festival as a high status Cape Town racing event.

He said, “It is the fastest growing race day, there are new sponsors and a lot is being poured into it and it will also be great to be able to have the owners back on course for the day. Everything I am doing at present is with that meeting in mind so punters must follow our yard on the day.”

One of the innovations for the meeting is the R160,000 Khaya Stables Workriders vs Jockeys Championship Maiden over 1200m where for the first time in South African history workriders will race against jockeys. The seven jockeys and seven workriders on the top of the respective Cape Jockeys log and Cape Workriders log will each ride as a team. The team which gathers the most points will be presented with a trophy.

Meanwhile, Snaith’s three-year-old filly Dazzling Sun, who is owned by Michael De Broglio, is on her way to race in America. She faces an arduous journey as the equine export protocols have not changed.

If it was not for those protocols Snaith would have liked to have seen Captain’s Ransom racing in either America or France.

Instead, she will be heading for the SA Champions Season where the WSB Fillies Guineas and Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes will be her obvious aims. Snaith said miler types like her are capable of winning the Grade 1 Woolavington 2000 too so that might be an option in between those two events.

The clash between the best filly of the south, Captain’s Ransom, and the best two fillies of the North, War Of Athena and Anything Goes, will be among the most eagerly awaited events of the SA Champions Season.

Captain’s Ransom is rated 126 compared to the 122 of War Of Athena but Snaith said, “Captain’s Ransom is very good and I’m not in the slightest bit scared of War Of Athena. When I said this three-year-old Cape Town crop is very, very strong this year people said ‘agh there he is blah blah overrating their horses again’ but I meant it and it has shown. Malmoos proved it over the weekend and he was lucky to win a race here as a lot of the opposition were still maturing.”

Meanwhile Do It Again, who loves KZN, has already been transported here and is resting on a farm. He will come in to Summerveld to begin training in the next couple of weeks.

Snaith said, “His rating has come down which gives him a chance in the July. He loves light tracks and we were never able to get the tracks light enough for him here during the Summer.”

Snaith faces a problem with his top sprinter Kasimir every winter because the first of the Grade 1 SA Champions Season sprints, the Golden Horse Sprint, is a handicap and he has to carry a big weight, and the second one, the Mercury Sprint, is around the turn at Hollywoodbets Greyville and he invariably draws wide. However, he is likely to be one of his kingpins for the SA Champions Season again.

Copy: David Thistleton, Gold Circle