Equina won the 1800m ZNA Charity Handicap in 2014 and should collect these laurels once again when she lines up with seven other contenders at Borrowdale Park on Sunday.
The six-year-old daughter of Silvano (GER) will be going for a hat-trick having won the $40 000 Republic Cup (GR3) over 1900m, and the 1400m Breeders Sprint, in July. Claiming Apprentice Serino Moodley teamed up with Equina for the Breeders Sprint, thereby reducing her set weight to 53.5kgs, and she beat Super Trouper (conceding 6.5kgs) by 0.05 lengths.
Moodley has the ride again in the ZNA Charity Handicap so former big-time opponents, Super Trouper, Thriller In Manila, Rock The Country and Two Gun Kid, all have heaps of work to do.
They competed in the 1800m OK Grand Challenge won by Yer-Maan in June, 2015. That day Thriller In Manila (second) finished 1.5 lengths in front of Equina (fourth) when in receipt of 3 kgs. Rock The Country (third) also received 3 kgs from Equina, and Super Trouper finished fifth, one length behind Equina while giving her 0.5 kgs.
On Sunday Equina will receive 1.5 kgs from Thriller In Manila, while meeting Rock The Country at level weights. Super Trouper will be giving the mare 4 kgs.
Two Gun Kid and Merhaba were also in the OK Grand Challenge, finishing further back. Merhaba will be giving Equina 2 kgs on Sunday and Brendon McNaughton will have to pull out all the stops if Zimbabwe’s 2014 Derby winner is to feature. The Mullins Bay (GB) gelding carried 52 kgs in the OK, to Equina’s 55 kgs. Like Merhaba all of “the Thriller”, Super Trouper and Rock The Country will have more experienced jockeys in the irons but will that be enough to account for the significant pull in weights?
Apart from Merhaba there are two other classy four-year-olds in Sunday’s race. Print The Pounds, winner of the 2014 Zimbabwe Guineas and Fillies Classic, will be ridden by Fanie Chambers and will receive 2 kgs from Equina. Tallie Two, who has had Print The Pounds’ measure occasionally, receives 1.5 kgs from the 2014 Castle Tankard and OK Grand Challenge winner and Apprentice Ryan Munger has the ride.
Both these fillies raced in the 1300m Sable Flyers (L) at the last Borrowdale Park meeting. They will be racing fit but it is still a tough ask. A good performance here will indicate whether they can be taken seriously in major events this season.
The remainder of the 7-race card looks just a shade too competitive, with the exception of the 1200m Maiden Plate where Cherry Brook and Sky seem the pick on exposed form. However there are three previously unraced horses in this field of nine and Sterling Countess is a half-sister to Picalilly.
First race is a 1100m Merit Rated 70 Handicap where Road To Dubai stands out. The four-year-old gelding, by The Sheik, completed a hat-trick of wins at his last outing on June 15, and I fear the handicapper may have temporarily caught up with him.
Several in this field finished behind Principled Man on September 20 when Chestnut Girl disappointed her fans. She deserves another chance but has to contend, just for a start, with Quick Glance, Gotago and Amas Amat, as well as Road To Dubai. Apprentice Wes Marwing’s mount, The Mutineer, races for the first time at Borrowdale so watch the betting.
Princeton Tiger, with Andrew Fortune up, won a 1100m Merit Rated 60 Handicap at the last meeting, and this pair comes out again for the 1200m Merit Rated 55 Handicap. The Kildonan colt finished two lengths clear of Seb d’Aquino’s Romantic Balladeer last time. The son of Trippi now meets Princeton Tiger on slightly better terms and perhaps can turn the tables. It will be interesting to see how the lighter weights Yesterday Man, Royal Revenge, Macfly and Lake Nakuru fare.
In my view the 1600m Merit Rated 50 Handicap, fourth race on the card, is best left alone. Seb d’Aquino fields a likely trio, Captain Grant, Sea Clipper and Temple Run, with Marco van Rensburg on Temple Run. Of course if you fancy Temple Run you have to include Agnetha, a close second to the Toreador horse over the distance on July 12. Wes Marwing stays on board Agnetha while Andrew Fortune rides Yenta.
This is a race packed with possibilities. I haven’t mentioned Second Light, Muhammad, Delta Special and Shezawarrior, and the Horse Chestnut filly, Hunyani, attempts the turn for the first time.
The Fortune factor comes into play in the fifth race, a 1600m Merit Rated 65 Handicap, where he rides Bankers Blues. On September 20, in a 1800m Merit Rated 60 Handicap, Bankers Blues (2/1) finished 5.50 lengths behind his stable companion Parade Prancer (in receipt of 2kgs and starting at 40/1). Early on in that race the saddle slipped on Bankers Blues so Fortune was unable to fully assist him.
There is no doubt Bankers Blues will be expected to make amends but this may be a tougher nut to crack. Final Fling ran a fair race after a very long break at the last meeting. Kirk Swanson saddles Nuggett Effect, Stirling Road and Touching Base and, in addition to Bankers Blues and Parade Prancer, Gokhan Terzi has Sido. Apprentice Serino Moodley will claim 4kgs on Star Dance, expect a strong ride from Kevin Derere on Vice Admiral, and Maturin likes the 1600m trip.
Master Of The Sky, by Jetmaster, goes beyond 1300m for the first time in the 1800m Maiden Plate. The four-year-old gelding has been placed in two of his three starts and is expected to appreciate more ground.
Eight of the other 12 runners finished behind Scarlett Ice at the last meeting, with Vaya Con Dios, followed by Bachata, leading that pack. It’s often difficult to predict what maidens will do but I’m not looking further. Andrew Fortune rides Vaya Con Dios, and Fanie Chambers is on Master Of The Sky.
The next Borrowdale Park race meeting is on Sunday, October 18, and it features the ZRP Fillies Charity Stakes.
Photographs: Gavin Macleod and Zimbabawe Equine News