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The Cape Town Met is a weight-for age event but, despite that, there is no obvious stand-out in this year’s Grade 1 race over 2000m at Kenilworth Racecourse on Saturday (29 January).
G1 Queen's Plate (1600m) winner Jet Dark is the best-weighted runner based on merit ratings but only by 1lb. In fact, there is very little separating the highest-rated five runners.
Even then, three-year-old Double Superlative, who last month won the Grade 1 Cape Guineas (1600m), could be substantially better than his current merit rating of 113. Since he is joint favourite for the race, both trainer Justin Snaith and the local bookmakers certainly believe he is.
Jockey Anton Marcus, who rode him to victory in the Guineas, is even spending the week getting his weight down to 119lb to ride the son of Twice Over, so that is further indication of how strongly fancied he is.
Interestingly, Snaith pulled off a coup in 2018 when winning this race with Oh Susanna, who became the first three-year-old filly to triumph in the Met in more than 100 years.
But while Double Superlative may have won the Guineas, there is a question about the ability of this current crop of three-year-olds and it could be wise to look elsewhere for the winner.
The horse who ticks almost all of the boxes is Kommetdieding . Trained in Cape Town by the father and daughter team of Harold Crawford and Michelle Rix, this four-year-old son of Elusive Fort won the country's biggest handicap, the Grade 1 Durban July (2200m) at Greyville last year.
He has had the perfect preparation with two really good build-up races, finishing third in the Cape Mile and then second to Jet Dark in the Queen's Plate. Both those races were over 1600m and he will improve markedly over the additional 400m.
He won his first four races and was then targeted at last year's Cape Derby, but an injury forced him out and he was not seen in action until May.
Everything is on track for this colt this time. "Right now, we could not have asked for a more sound and fitter racehorse, and I'm looking forward to Saturday," Rix said.
Gavin Lerena picked up his first Durban July winner on this horse and will be hoping Kommetdieding will give him his first triumph in the Met.
Jet Dark could not have been more impressive in winning the Queen's Plate for the second successive year and trainer Snaith is very confident this son of Trippi will see out the trip.
"I don't see 2000m a problem for him. For a champion racehorse the distance is elementary, and Jet Dark sets the bar very high in the Met," Snaith said.
However, he is racing against other horses who have no stamina doubts, and it will be interesting to see whether he can produce the same finishing burst over 2000m as he does over 1600m.
S'manga Khumalo is unbeaten in two Grade 1 races on him and he is back aboard on Saturday.
Critics may knock Linebacker's somewhat dull performance in the Queen's Plate when beaten out of the placings, 3.9 lengths back. His jockey on that occasion, Craig Zackey, explained that Linebacker was off the bit early and out of his comfort zone.
It is conceivable Linebacker, winner of the Grade 1 Cape Derby (2000m) and Grade 1 Greyville 2000 (2000m), reverts to his usual high-class form in a race likely to be run to suit, especially with regular rider Grant van Niekerk back in the irons.