JUSTIN Snaith has made no secret of The Gatekeeper being his Vodacom Durban July horse this season and thus one of his chief concerns ahead of Saturday week’s Grade 1 Jonsson Workwear Cape Derby is his merit rating, writes DAVID THISELTON of Gold Circle.
He said about the three-year-old colt The Gatekeeper, who is a full brother to his first July winner Legislate and who is owned by the Cape Derby’s new sponsor Nick Jonsson, “He is a very special horse and I would not be doing all this planning if that was not the case. We will do everything to protect his rating even if it means having to appeal. The concern is the merit rating leaps a three-year-old can take, for example if he wins the Derby he goes to 120 then if he wins the Daily News he goes to 125.”
Snaith said he would see what The Gatekeeper’s rating was after the Cape Derby before deciding which route to take in to the July.
The highest rated horse in the country at present is July-bound Rainbow Bridge on 134, so The Gatekeeper would have to be rated higher than 124 to carry more than the minimum weight of 53kg for a three-year-old male in the July. He is unlikely to get more than 120 for winning the Derby as the highest rated horse among the entries is Kommetdieding on 117.
Snaith said The Gatekeeper, who ran a 2,05 length fifth in the Grade 1 Cape Guineas last time out, was “very well” and added, “He is immature and if they don’t beat him in the Derby they are not going to beat him in four months time in the Daily News.”
Snaith also runs Hoedspruit in the Cape Derby.
He said, “He is doing very well at home but is losing his races because he is always too far back. He is finishing three to five lengths back and needs to up his game so I am pushing the envelope with him to see if we can close that gap. The mile to 1800m might have been too short too so we’re hoping he will be a nice horse over 2000m and run into the money.”
Snaith believes Jonsson Workwear Cape Derby day is on its way to joining the Cape Town Met and L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Racing Festival as a high status Cape Town racing event.
He said, “It is the fastest growing race day, there are new sponsors and a lot is being poured into it and it will also be great to be able to have the owners back on course for the day. Everything I am doing at present is with that meeting in mind so punters must follow our yard on the day.”
One of the innovations for the meeting is the R160,000 Khaya Stables Workriders vs Jockeys Championship Maiden over 1200m where for the first time in South African history workriders will race against jockeys. The seven jockeys and seven workriders on the top of the respective Cape Jockeys log and Cape Workriders log will each ride as a team. The team which gathers the most points will be presented with a trophy.