Bearing in mind that lightly raced two-year-olds can improve out of all recognition, the 1200m Champion Juvenile Stakes (GR3) at Borrowdale Park on Sunday seems set to be a particularly challenging race.
Four of the 10 ‘babies’ carded are Zimbabwean-bred and it would be good to see hard pressed local breeders collect some of the limelight.
Alyson Wright’s Gee Racing fields Call Me Earl and Paint It Black – both bred in Zimbabwe and definitely in with a shout. Call Me Earl, by Century Stand (AUS) out of Al Czarina, has raced twice for a third behind Demagogue, over 1000m, following up with a win over 1200m on May 3 when he finished 1.50 lengths ahead of Equiano who was giving him 1.5kgs.
His stable mate Paint It Black, also by Century Stand (AUS), won his only start on May 31 when beating Al Salaam by two lengths in a 1200m Maiden Juvenile Plate. Al Salaam, trained by Bridget Stidolph, has four races under his belt and won his last start over 1000m. On previous form he looks held by Call Me Earl and Paint It Black but the Mullins Bay (GB) colt won’t know this.
Assistant trainer Penny Fisher believes Demagogue and Equiano pose the main threat to her charges, Paint It Black and Call Me Earl. Nevertheless she is hoping her pair will “finish in the first three” but adds “I don’t like to be over-confident about juveniles – particularly colts who can be as untrustworthy as teenage boys”.
In any event two fancied sons of Century Stand will be taking on two sure to be well supported sons of Argonaut, which is interesting. The Argonaut colt, Demagogue, trained by Gokhan Terzi, has won both his starts over 1000m. Super Good, who is not amongst Sunday’s runners, was runner-up on both occasions, but on May 16 all of A P Ikhaja, Starry Notions and Rocky Road were further back.
Equiano, by Argonaut, is a half-brother to champion race mare Equina, and trained by Amy Bronkhorst. First time out he was beaten by Call Me Earl but on May 16 he won a 1200m Maiden Plate, finishing four lengths clear of subsequent winner Aiiyayaii. As is the case with most of this field we can expect natural improvement.
In addition to Equiano Amy Bronkhorst will also saddle Starry Notions, a daughter of locally based sire, Gharir (IRE). This filly has placed twice and won over 1100m from five starts. On Sunday she jumps from the outside starting stall which is often a plus in a Borrowdale sprint.
Bridget Stidolph’s second runner is the fourth locally bred contestant, Rocky Road, by Soar With Eagles (USA) out of a Sobieski mare. He won his first start over 900m in January, beating Starry Notions by 2.5 lengths. His only other race to date was behind Demagogue and if that is a true reflection of his ability he has plenty to do here.
Corne Spies has entered three – A P Ikhaja, Paulus and Scandal – and of these only A P Ikhaja has raced at Borrowdale Park. This A P Answer filly ran 2.75 lengths behind Speedy Suzy in an 800m Maiden Juvenile Plate (F) at Turffontein in December. A week later she won over 800m at Borrowdale, beating Starry Notions by 7 lengths.
Since then she has raced four times up the straight in Harare, without spectacular results. However, in the 1000m TBA Sales Stakes on May 16 she was 6.5 lengths off Demagogue having lost four lengths at the start. In the remaining three races, two MR 65 Handicaps and a Graduation Plate, all won by her stable companions, A P Ikhaja was taking on older winners so she is a bit of a dark horse in this one.
As far as Borrowdale Park punters are concerned Paulus and the Muhtafal (USA) filly, Scandal, are very dark horses indeed.
Paulus, by King’s Apostle (IRE), has had eight starts up to 1160 m and this gelding won a 1100m Maiden Juvenile Plate at Flamingo Park on April 13. His last race was at Turffontein on May 30 when he finished 7.65 lengths off Arabian Beat over 1160m. On February 10, also at Turffontein, he ran fourth (3.75 lengths back) behind Redcarpet Captain over 1000m. If he can reproduce that form one cannot discount him.
Scandal won her first start at Turffontein in February over 1000m and this was followed by four unplaced runs in good company. She took part in the Ruffian Stakes (L) won by Entisaar (AUS); was six lengths behind Speedy Suzy in the 1100m Pretty Polly Stakes (GR3) and also ran in the Strelitzia Stakes (GR3). Hard to assess how she will perform at Borrowdale but realistically one has to feel she is stepping down in class a bit here.
The Champion Juvenile Stakes is the fifth leg of the Borrowdale Park Pick 6 and many will see either Demagogue or Equiano as likely bankers. I would also include Paint It Black (because I’m biased) – and the Spies trio worries me.