MK's Pride. Image: Candiese Lenferna
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MK's Pride. Image: Candiese Lenferna
MK’s Pride. Image: Candiese Lenferna

The R600 000 KwaZulu-Natal Breeders Mile at Hollywoodbets Greyville on Sunday provides the classy MK’s Pride an ideal opportunity to get back on the winning trail.

Now trained by Robbie Sage the Grade 1 winning son of Willow Magic has not seen the winner’s enclosure since taking out the 2022 Horse Chestnut Stakes (Gr 1) some fifteen months ago, but MK’s Pride is rated head and shoulders above his rivals and he should take a power of beating. Three runs back he finished runner-up behind Trip Of Fortune in the 2023 renewal of the Horse Chestnut Stakes and his subsequent two starts were not over ideal distances. On Sunday he returns to his favourite trip of 1600m and Muzi Yeni should have little difficulty in coaxing him to victory.

Peter Muscutt comes with a two-pronged attack as he plots to bring about the downfall of MK’s Pride. Noble City is a talented 3yo who is very much on the rise. He has won three of his five starts to date and will again be partnered by Richard Fourie, but the Noble Tune gelding has been thrown in the deep-end here. His current form and well-being is certainly in his favour but he will need to catch MK’s Pride on an off day to have any chance of lowering his colours. Stable companion Battle Force is an interesting runner. The former winner of the Golden Horse Sprint (Gr 1) has not tasted success for a very long time but he has only once been tried over 1600m, and that was in this race last year when finishing second behind the useful Nexus.

Lest we forget the merit of that performance, Nexus won a good race during the last Cape Summer Season and then ran an absolute cracker in the WSB Cape Town Met when finishing fourth behind Jet Dark and Kommetdieding. If Battle Force can reproduce that level of form he will have a bright chance of making his presence felt.

Captain Casey is another three-year-old with a bright future but faces an enormous challenge in this company. The handsome son of Captain Of All has his third run after being rested and gelded and will be cherry ripe on Sunday, but he may just have to settle for a minor placing at best.

Best of the rest in this nine-horse field appears to be Willow’s Wish but the Sean Tarry inmate takes a steep rise in class. He has been a model of consistency throughout his career but the 5-time winner is not well treated by the conditions of the race.

But while Tarry may struggle to secure victory in the main event, he will fancy his chances in the fifth and eighth races on Sunday. He saddles The Kop in the fifth race over 1900m and the son of Visionaire will be seeking to follow up on his victory in the same race last year. But he is rated six points higher this time around and meets Aquae Sulis on 2 kgs worse terms than last year. On that basis Duncan Howells’ mare has a real chance of turning the tables on The Kop but there are also a few others to consider in a highly competitive event.

African Dusk comes into the race with solid credentials but makes his debut on the Polytrack. The 3yo son of Ideal World has thus far been restricted to racing on the turf but there is no reason to believe he will not handle the change in surface. Raratonga Rose from the in-form stable of Lucky Houdalakis does not know what it is to run a bad race and the daughter of Flower Alley warrants serious respect. Pirate Prince is another for the short list but I am expecting lightning to strike twice and will give the nod to The Kop, although not with a great deal of confidence.

In the eighth race over 1600m Tarry sends out Magical Flight who has made the frame in all three starts to date on the Polytrack. Her form on the Highveld this season has been very consistent and four of her five victories to date have come over this trip. Magical Flight probably has most to fear from the improving Petit Verdot and the well-drawn Hatta from the stable of Michael Roberts.

The nap of the day comes in the very first race, a Juvenile Plate for fillies over 1200m, in the form of Platina Princess. The well-related daughter of high-riding freshman sire Danon Platina was bred by Henning Pretorius at Summerhill Equestrian and the strength of her form on the Highveld looks far superior to anything she comes up against here. She is likely to start at prohibitive odds but rates a confident Bipot banker.

Another Highveld-based 2yo could come out on top in the second race, the opening leg of the Place Accumulator. Trainer Paul Matchett saddles debut winner Mount Pilatus and he has secured the services of Richard Fourie to ride the son of Pomodoro who was bred at the Clifton Stud. In his first start Mount Pilatus beat the promising Hawkbill who has franked the form by winning since, but Teerex, Captain’s Christy and Strawberry Stinger have all done enough to keep him honest.

The most exciting supporting race on the programme appears to be the sixth race over 1600m. The very exciting and good-looking grey son of Flying The Flag, Strawberry Bear, goes head-to-head with the very accomplished Prince of Taranto and a good race can be expected between the pair. The older Prince of Taranto receives 4 kgs from the 3yo Strawberry Bear and that could just sway the outcome in favour of Tony Rivalland’s runner.

-Graeme Hawkins / Gold Circle

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