Kenilworth Racecourse will host the first leg of the South African (SAF) Triple Crown, the G1 Forus Cape Guineas, on Saturday, Dec. 16 in Cape Town, South Africa. The championship will see a strong field of 3-year-olds take the track in what has rightly been billed as horse racing's ultimate test.
The first race from Kenilworth will take place at 5:30am ET with the Forus Cape Guineas set for 9:05am ET.
Several veteran trainers and jockeys are returning to the Cape Guineas to take aim at becoming a South African Triple Crown winner and repeat a feat last accomplished by Michael Azzie and Karl Zechner in 2016. Indeed, like the US Triple Crown, the South African version is a profound test of horse racing prowess and having one horse win all three legs is an elusive achievement.
Only three horses are members of the incredibly exclusive club of Triple Crown winners in South Africa – Horse Chestnut, who reached this mark in 1999, Louis The King in 2014 and Abashiri in 2016.
The Cape Guineas, which is run over a mile, will feature early headliners Tap O'Noth, White River, Do It Again, Undercover Agent, and Bold Respect battling for victory. Tap O'Noth is currently listed as the 5/1 favorite despite drawing the widest barrier (15). He also has the benefit of a regal bloodline, as a descendant of eight-time champion juvenile sire Captain Al and brother to last year's Cape Guineas winner, William Longsword. Furthermore, Tap O'Noth carries the legacy of his grandsire, the US-bred Al Mufti who has sired 232 winners and 51 stakes winners.
Tap O'Noth should be confident returning to Kenilworth, which was the scene of his last two triumphs – the G3 Langerman and G3 Cape Classic. Additionally, he has four-time Cape Guineas winning trainer Vaughan Marshall saddling him. Marshall chalked up last year's victory with William Longsword while that edition's winning jockey MJ Byleveld will mount Tap O'Noth in Saturday's race.
The Cape Guineas will see several contenders continue their rivalry with Tap O'Noth being challenged by two horses that finished behind him in the Cape Classic – Undercover Agent (8/1) and Cot Campbell (20/1). While Undercover Agent lost to Tap O'Noth by 0.75 lengths in the Cape Classic, it's the Brett Crawford-trained White River that has emerged as Tap O'Noth's closest rival in the Cape Guineas at odds of 13-2 to win. White River will also seek vengeance on Rocket Countdown (7/1) for last month's defeat in the Grade 2 Selangor Cup.
Sharing the 7/1, is Do It Again, who had a runner-up showing of 0.50 lengths behind Rocket Countdown in the Selangor. Do It Again was previously unbeaten-in-two heading into the Selangor and will look to rebound at Kenilworth.
Seven years after winning the Cape Guineas, trainer Justin Snaith will attempt a comeback with Do It Again, Australian-bred Sir Frenchie, and Cot Campbell. In total, Justin Snaith has no fewer than 11 runners spread across the four Graded races at Kenilworth on Saturday, with a trio going to post for the Grade 1 Forus Cape Guineas.
Cot Campbell was something of a talking horse a few months ago but appears held on recent form. “I didn't rate his chances, but he galloped very impressively recently, and now I feel he is back in the contest,'' said Snaith.
Sir Frenchie, who has struggled across seven furlongs on the old course, is hoped to have more success with one mile on the longer straight of the new course. “He will love the long run in and can finish in the money'' is the verdict.
Mike de Kock's standing as a horse racing power will rise yet another level if one of his entries, Sir David Baird (10/1) or Like A Panther (12/1), wins. His horses are always strong competitors in the Cape Guineas, having landed in the winner's circle five times.
After the 2017 Cape Guineas winner is crowned, the SAF Triple Crown takes the action to Turffontein with the G1 SA Classic and G1 SA Derby.
North American racing fans can live-steam all the Summer Cup card on Saturday morning at ADWs such as TVG, TwinSpires, Xpressbet, NYRA Bets, WatchandWager, HPIbet, AmWager, and BetAmerica. Punters can also pick up free past performances and watch live at Sky Racing World.
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