Ashburtons Duncan Howells is bullish about the chances of his three raiding runners for the Sun Met meeting, Fiorella, Thanksgiving and Mr Greenlight.
Howells told Racegoer, All three are fit and well and my main concern was how they would travel. They all travelled exceptionally well and have settled in nicely so I am very happy. Choice Carriers did a very good job.
The horses did pace work at Milnerton on Saturday morning and their big race rider Mark Khan will be there today (Tuesday) to give them all a final blowout. Mr Greenlight last ran just before travelling so is not being asked to do as much as the other pair.
Fiorella runs in the Grade 1 Bidvest Majorca Stakes over 1600m. She is quoted at 20/1 by World Sports Betting, but has never lost to either of the joint 28/10 second favourites Snowdance and Lady In Black. She caught Snowdance in the shadow of the post in the Grade 2 Daisy Fillies Guineas at Greyville, beating her by a head, and Lady In Black was beaten 2,85 lengths into fifth place in that same race. Fiorella later beat Lady In Black by a quarter of a length in the Grade 1 Woolavington 2000 when finishing a narrow second to Oh Susanna. However, in her last start she was a touch disappointing when managing only a 6,2 length fourth in the Grade 2 Ipi Tombe Challenge over 1600m at Turffontein. She will now have blinkers fitted for the first time.
Howells said, Mark Khan suggested the blinkers as she battled to quicken in the Ipi Tombe and he reckons she now needs further. But when I saw her going down at Turffontein that day I thought she looked a bit flat and she duly ran a flat race. But right now she is looking as fit and well as I had her for the Guineas so I am expecting a very good run. She does have a tough draw of eleven to overcome.
Thanksgiving is the top merit rated male in the Cape Derby and the second highest merit rated horse behind the filly Second Request. However, Howells pointed out in retrospect he had run to about 107 when second to the unbeaten star Hawwaam in the Dingaans. He turned it on impressively last time out over 1600m at Greyville and being by Dynasty will be improving all the time. His full brother Stormy Affair won over this 2000m trip. Thanksgiving has the bonus of a plum draw of two and has attractive odds of around 11/1 with bookmakers.
Howells said, He does like to race from off them but the draw saves us from having to find a position. He will love the step up in trip and is a big runner.
Mr Greenlight is drawn widest of all in the 13-horse field for the US$500,000 CTS 1600 and is quoted as an outsider at 28/1. This Gimmethegreenlight colt drew away impressively last time out over 1600m on the Greyville poly in a relatively strong Graduation Plate event and won as he liked.
Howells said, There is speed on the outside so that should help us find a position, but it doesnt really matter where he comes from. He came from stone last in his first win, although that was just a maiden, and we pressed him last time and had him handy to see whether he was good enough and he improved dramatically. He is on the up and is still unexposed. He has a lot of scope and will be very competitive. I didnt really have him quite right in his penultimate start over 1800m but Stuart Randolph got off and said You dont know how good this horse is, he gave him a helluva good feel. He is fitter now and improving. – Gold Circle