The Captain Al gelding Search Party is back to defend his R400 000 Gr2 Merchants crown at Kenilworth on Saturday. The handicapper hasn’t been kind on him – he carries 7,5kgs more than he did last year. But he’s improved – and should still be competitive.
Search Party won the Gr2 Durban Merchants and was a dual Gr1 runner-up in the Durban season – so it’s hardly surprising to note that the 5yo has rocketed from a 92 to 113. He beat Glen Puller’s Silicone Valley a half length last year and that 7yo meets now him on an 8kg swing at the weights.
To be fair, Silicone Valley has consistently run places and his form hardly compares with the Crawford runner. But he caught the eye with a smashing late run from miles back when getting to within 1,15 lengths of Our Mate Art in the Matchem – his jockey is awaited after Anthony Delpech has been stood down. While winless in over a year, it could be Silicone Valley’s chance on Saturday at the weight turnaround.
But it’s a handicap and remains wide open.
Search Party’s stablemates Al Mariachi and Black Cat Back are both decent sorts.
The preference is for the former, as he showed his wellbeing and ran on well behind Sergeant Hardy in his last start.
Topweighted Marinaresco won the July at his penultimate start and comes in after a break of 18 weeks. He did run Silicone Valley to 1,75 lengths over the course and distance a year ago, but the Puller galloper is better off and more effective this trip. That said, Mike Bass went close in this race this with Pocket Power when he also carried topweight.
Brutal Force failed to spark on his return run but this course and distance winner is all class and very capable of an upset.
Justin Snaith’s Sergeant Hardy loves the track and trip and ran a gutsy race on his return to beat Bold Respect at the end of October. He meets Search Party on a kilo better terms for a length beating, so could hold him again.
The 8yo Tevez is a high-class sprinter but was not persevered with last time and needs to find his best form. He has won this race twice and run second once but may be past his best.
Anton Marcus partners with the Captain Al colt Always In Charge, who was badly in need of it when fading out in the Matchem. He is a Gr1 winner and thus cannot be discarded.
Andre Nel’s Percival has the looks of a horse capable of winning this. The 5yo son of Var carries a handy 52kgs and is bang in form. He is effective over the course and distance too.
Piere Strydom is an interesting jockey booking for the Western Winter gelding Attenborough. After a quiet KZN season, the 4yo stayed on steadily behind Sergeant Hardy in his prep and should be a lot fitter come Saturday. He is also 1,5kgs better off with the Sergeant at the weights.
Bishop’s Bounty was 6,75 lengths behind stablemate Sergeant Hardy and is only a kilo better off. He was highly regarded early on and can improve.
Cuban Emerald won his last start over the course and distance but returns from a 15 week break and is likely to need it.
Top class 2yo of last season Dutch Philip comes in with a handy galloping weight of 52kgs and reverts to sprinting after disappointing in the Cape Classic last time. He has top course and distance form and is worth including.
Heartland could find this a bit sharp.
It’s a tough race to unravel – go wide in the Pick 6 and Jackpot.