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Champion jockey turned trainer Michael Roberts was in two minds as to whether he should run his star galloper See It Again in the G1 Durban July (2200m) at Greyville earlier this month seeing that his charge would carry top weight for a three-year-old.
Roberts pondered if the colt would have a better chance next year, when with the benefit of another year, he would be older and stronger, but in the end See It Again took his chances and came within a head of pulling off a famous victory in South Africa's premier race.
See It Again and Charles Dickens are clearly head-and-shoulders the best three-year-old's this season and probably the best two colts in training, the former over a middle distance and the latter over 1600m but victory in Saturday's G1 The HKJC Champions Cup (1800m) for See It Again could well earn him top honours in the end of season awards.
He ran a tremendous race when touched off in the July, giving his older rival Winchester Mansion eight pounds. If he has recovered from that race, which is always a lung-buster, then he should have this race at his mercy.
Something of an unknown, even given her record, is the filly Princess Calla . Sean Tarry's mare sprints and runs 1600m comfortably but the question is whether she can step up the extra 200m against top-class male opposition. There is no doubting her ability but this will be an acid test.
Zapatillas has not found the form that saw him win the G2 World Sports Betting Guineas (1600m) last season but has had his problems and was off the track for some time after that victory. He finished a creditable third behind Charles Dickens and Al Muthana in the G1 Gold Challenge (1600m), his first run in just over three months, and he could be the dark horse in the race.
G1 King's Plate (1600m) winner Al Muthana was completely out-pointed by Charles Dickens in the Gold Challenge, reversing the order in the King's Plate. In the King's Plate it may well have been that the rider of Charles Dickens was over confident and caught napping. The Champions Cup is 200m further but, on a line through Charles Dickens, Al Muthana should not be able to match See It Again.
Trip Of Fortune made the trip from Cape Town to land the G1 Horse Chestnut Stakes (1600m), a rare achievement for horses making the trip from Cape Town to the rarified air of the Highveld. However, he was well beaten by Charles Dickens and Al Muthana in the Gold Challenge but was subsequently supplemented for the Durban July where he was never certain to see out the trip under top weight. This race will be more within his range.
Dave The King is a tremendous looker but was no match for See It Again in the G1 Greyville 2000 (2000m) where he made most of the running but could not go with his rival when it counted. It was a similar case in the Durban July but you write off a Mike De Kock-trained horse at your peril as this 1800m trip is ideal.
De Kock also saddles Safe Passage who was disappointing in the Durban July, although he had a tricky draw but failed to fire under world-class rider Christophe Soumillon. The 1800m trip will be more to his liking and if he finds his best form, he will be a threat to the more fancied runners.
Of the balance, Rascallion was many a pundit's fancy for the Durban July but was disappointing.