The main race on Sunday’s Borrowdale Park card is the 1600m MOTA Ipi Tombe Stakes – an event which should, in theory, favour the best rated runners as the entire field is set to carry 60 kgs.
This race – which takes place annually to commemorate Zimbabwe’s most famous equine export – is run under Weight-For-Age conditions and apprentice allowances may be claimed.
There are no fillies or mares in the 2017 line up and only one colt, Call Me Earl. Merit Ratings range from 102 (Mathematician) down to 77 (Comanche Brave). However Mathematician will be ridden by Apprentice C. Habib who claims 1.5 kgs. This means Mathematician, a four-year-old with the highest Merit Rating, will be receiving weight from the rest of the field.
All the 8 contestants have claims to fame, and the field includes two other four-year-olds, Call Me Earl and Comanche Brave; Windigo, a five-year-old; Principled Man who is six, and the seven-year-olds, Eurakilon and Newton Power. Between them the runners have won 45 races, with eight-year-old Madigan contributing 11 wins to that total.
It seems there are two choices. Follow the top Merit Ratings which suggest Mathematician, Eurakilon and Windigo should fight out the finish – or do your own thing.
Madigan won the Ipi Tombe in 2014, and Principled Man beat Eurakilon to the wire in 2016. When Madigan won this race his MR was 98, and Alula Borealis (MR 102) was well back. Principled Man’s MR in 2016 was 82, Eurakilon was on 90, and the horse with the highest rating, Lucky Sam, ran third.
Of course if the heavens open before Sunday I will be doing my own thing, on the day. Heavy going could turn the 1600m trip into an endurance test.