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    Grant van Niekerk praises “scary-good’ Linebacker in Cape Derby!

    Monday, 01 March 2021

    If ever a horse deserved a breakthrough win, after four consecutive close seconds in feature races, it was Linebacker. And he duly got his just reward in the G1 Cape Derby when comprehensively out-finishing all rivals.

    Despite being by a speed sire Captain of All, Linebacker proved he loves 2000m, earning an excellent speed figure of 107 with an impressive come-home sectional ratio of 108%. He was perfectly handled by Grant van Niekerk, who was in great form at Kenilworth on Saturday and is really developing into a top class rider.

    Rascallion (s/s 105) was beaten with every chance and his turn for Grade 1 success might come during the KZN season. He has been regularly placed in races of the highest calibre. Likewise, The Gatekeeper (s/s 104) also ran with distinction and should do better still with advanced maturity.

    Snaith trained sprinter, Rio Querari has been a revelation during the past few months running some big numbers in defeat. He too, duly got a deserved win as heavily backed favourite in the G2 Diadem, accelerating like a sports car to obliterate a good field over 1200m.

    The early pace was only steady, affecting the final time, but there can be no doubting his true ability – after factoring in a finishing ration of 109% under van Niekerk’s gentle coaxing, Rio Querari merits a sectional upgrade to a speed figure of 112.

    Zarina (s/s 102) is another imbued with the ability to finish strong, so often a decisive factor in turf races. The daughter of Master of my Fate who is trained by Candice Bass Robinson, burst through to win the Vasco Prix du Cap going away from very game front runner Icon Princess (s/s 100) and Maledimo (s/s 100). Lemon Delight (s/s 99) completed a difficult to catch Quartet, as odds on favourite Clouds Unfold duffed her final racetrack appearance before going to stud.

    The Cape Nurseries staged earlier in the card yielded two eye-catching victories. Cosmic Highway (s/s 101 +) appears a huge talent for the Kannemeyer stable after hammering Ambiorix (s/s 95) who is no slouch, whilst Snaith trained filly, Gimme Dat (s/s 89 +) also has scope to enjoy a most productive career. Both are sired by Gimmethegreenlight.

    Wylie Wench (s/s 98) took out the G3 Acacia Handicap in Joburg defeating the consistent Wisteria Walk, who was conceding her 5.5 kg’s. Wylie Wench is trained by the Azzies who were also spot on with Sweet Future (s/s 105) in the Bauhinia Handicap. That’s a really notable number for a three-year-old filly to record, so this daughter of Futura is worth following to sustain a winning roll up on the Highveld.

    Mark VD Bio Image

    Mark van Deventer

    Mark van Deventer has been refining his speed figures for thoroughbred racehorses over three decades. He’s long been intrigued by the intellectual puzzle of form study. Andrew Beyer, creator of the Beyer speed figures in America, has always been his inspirational “guru.” So, the figures that underpin Mark’s analysis use Beyer’s main concepts, and have been adapted to suit South African racecourses.

    The racing bug can be compelling - since 2013, this U.C.T. Psychology graduate has settled into a career as a full time journalist and racing manager.

    Mark uses the insights gained from time-based analysis to convey well-researched handicapping opinions, building a reputation of integrity in the media as an imaginative handicapper with the ability to unearth live runners at juicy prices.

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