SOUTH AFRICAN thoroughbred import, Flax, will be seeking a fairy-tale Zimbabwean debut when he bids to outgun a stellar 14-horse field in Africa’s oldest horse racing event the Castle Tankard this weekend.
BY NGONI NGURUZA
The nine-year-old son of Silvano carries top weight on the turf against the country’s most promising runners in the only Grade One rated horse race on the local scene.
The way bookmakers’ odds are weighing heavily on Flax emerging victorious are down to a number of factors leaning in the Bridget Stidolph trained runner’s favour.
His past form reads like an impressive listing of premier horseracing events, having contested in no less than nine Grade Three rated or better races in his last 10 outings.
In the same period, the Maine Chance Farms-bred horse has garnered one win and three places against top class opposition in South Africa. He is certainly hard to oppose on paper but when the quality of thoroughbreds he is expected to overcome on Tankard day is factored in, the task at hand becomes very much a formidable one.
Chief among the serious contenders looking to overshadow the favourite and stake a claim on the country’s greatest horseracing prize will be the six-year-old gelding Eurakilon.
Fresh from an impressive showing during the running of the 1 600m Independence Trophy when he displayed a perfect mix of staying stamina and brutal sprinting ability to decimate the 12-horse field, the Gokhan Terzi-trained runner cannot be ignored come next weekend.
The son of Classic Flag has hit peak form in recent times and is almost always in the places on every outing. The gelding now has seven wins under his belt and is partnered with regular jockey Lance Pagel for the daunting 2 000m trip.
Eurakilon’s last two outings were preparatory runs for the Castle Tankard and on both occasions, the six-year-old showed his opponents a clean pair of heels with thumping performances that underlined just how well the gelding has improved. He will certainly provide a major threat to the favourite Flax.
Another outsider brimming with loads of potential is the three-year-old Black Minnaloushe gelding Mathematician. With only nine races worth of turf experience in his fledgling career, the Bridget Stidolph-trained runner will have to overcome his inexperience against seasoned campaigners if he is to have any impact at all on the field.
He has proven his capability in a handful of feature races lately and only recently started tackling trips over 1 600m, but that should not be too much cause for concern as he dominated in his last start of over 2 400m in The Zimbabwe Derby to win with loads of conviction.
The stage is set then for a thrilling spectacle this Saturday and as in years gone by, the nation will grind to a stop to witness as another thoroughbred attains the highest honour of prevailing in the continent’s oldest sponsored horserace.