We seldom have weight-for-age feature races at Borrowdale Park, but the $10 000 MOTA Ipi Tombe Stakes, to be run over 1600m on Sunday, is one of them.
Eleven horses have stood their ground and this includes Super Trouper who won this race last year, and Madigan, the 2014 winner.
No three-year-olds were entered so Tallie Two, Equina and Gentle Brook will all carry 57,5 kgs, while the remainder of the field, all geldings, are allotted 60 kgs.
If you like to keep things simple, choose the horses with the highest Merit Ratings, namely Lucky Sam, Equina, Super Trouper, Atso’s Scheme and Eurakilon, and you should win the quartet – if the handicapping is on the ball. However, this is racing, always a mind game, so let’s see what some of the trainers think.
Penny Fisher saddled three winners at the last race meeting and she says her charge, Tallie Two, is very well and “in with a big chance. There are several horses that could win this race, such as Principled Man and Atso’s Scheme, and one can never leave out Equina.”
Tallie Two, a four-year-old daughter of Soar With Eagles (USA), has won 5 races and is drawn 2. Her regular jockey Ryan Munger rides.
Kirk Swanson will be represented by Madigan and Road To Dubai. He says although the weight conditions of the race don’t suit these horses, “We decided to give Road to Dubai a go at the 1600m. There are very few sprint races available for him so we want to see how he goes back round the turn. He did run second over further than 1600m as a three-year old, so he definitely can see out the trip. He has a good draw so I am hoping he can give them some cheek.”
Road to Dubai has covered himself with glory in sprints recently and has now won 7 races. Francois Herholdt rides the four-year-old gelding again and he has drawn 3.
Of Madigan Kirk says “he loves the mile and normally runs well in the softer conditions, so he could be an outsider to consider, having won the race before. At the weights Lucky Sam and Equina are well in and would probably be the two horses to beat, but I think it will be an interesting race.”
Madigan, a Zimbabwe Triple Crown winner, has won 10 races and will be ridden by Norbert Takawira who knows the seven-year-old well. They jump from the number 7 starting stall.
Gokhan Terzi reports that his main race runners are doing very well. “Eurakilon has a big chance but will find this 1600m a little on the short side, which is why I have decided to put blinkers on him. He should be in the top four.”
He says Super Trouper “can beat this field if he feels like it. He put up a very good grass gallop on Monday, so I’m expecting him to be competitive. “
“Principled Man is Andrew Fortune’s elect. He will be a big runner despite being out at the weights. He is distance suited and Andrew knows him well. All three of my runners will be involved in the finish. I just hope one of them can put his head down when it matters
As for the possible dangers Gokhan says “Atso’s Scheme is now in good form. Road To Dubai and Lucky Sam should also be thereabouts.”
Lance Pagel rides Eurakilon (a six-year-old) who showed his paces when finishing a very close second to Print The Pounds over 1800m on January 16. This pair will be hoping for better luck this time and are drawn 4. The son of Classic Flag has won 5 races.
Super Trouper could be the one they all have to beat – and they won’t be sure he’s beaten until the very last stride because this eight-year-old, by West Man (USA),has a flying finish. Brendon McNaughton, who teams up well with this 12-time winner, will be in the irons and Super Trouper has drawn 11.
Principled Man by Windrush (USA) is a winner over the Ipi Tombe distance and it is significant that Fortune takes the ride. Drawn 9, the five-year-old has won four races, and will have supporters on Sunday.
Unfortunately I was unable to get comments from the Stidolph and Bronkhorst yards both of whom are fielding fancied runners. Bridget Stidolph will saddle Lucky Sam, Atso’s Scheme and Mica Point, while Amy Bronkhorst is responsible for Equina and Gentle Brook.
Zimbabwe’s top race mare Equina, needs no introduction. Her 12 wins include the Castle Tankard and OK Grand Challenge, and she is always a force to be reckoned with. Now a six-year-old, the daughter of Silvano (GER) will be ridden by Apprentice Callan Murray and is drawn 5.
Gentle Brook, by Windrush (USA) is an 8-time winner at five years, unplaced lately but usually not far back. Nikki Sibanda rides on Sunday and Gentle Brook is drawn 8.
Lucky Sam runs off a merit rating of 97 and all eyes will be on this five-year-old gelding, by Imperial Stride(GB) out of a Jallad mare. He has won six races, including the 1900m Republic Cup and at his best can be formidable. Karl Zechner will be riding Lucky Sam who is drawn 1.
The four-year-old Atso’s Scheme ran second to Picalilly over 1300m at the last meeting and has won over the mile. This four-time winner is drawn 10 and will be ridden by Fanie Chambers.
This will be the second run after a break for Mica Point, a four-year-old son of West Man (USA) and winner of two races. Kevin Derere has the ride and Mica Point has drawn 6.
We are looking at a top-class field with many claims to fame, but don’t ask me to name the winner.
Photograph: Gavin Macleod. Lucky Sam won the 1600m Independence Trophy in April 2015, followed by Killa Man.