Marinaresco, the highest rated 3-year-old colt in South Africa, is out to make it an emotional finale to the season on Super Saturday at Greyville tomorrow. The Silvano gelding, favorite for the big race, the G1 Champions Cup, is trained by Mike Bass, who is retiring this year after 40 years as one of the nation’s top conditioners.
The million-rand contest, over 1,800 meters (nine furlongs), has been renamed the Mike and Carol Bass Champions Cup as a tribute to Bass. It is due off at 5.05 p.m. South African time (11.05 a.m. EST and 8.05 a.m. PST).
Marinaresco, winner of both the Winter Guineas and Winter Classic in the Cape earlier this season, is coming off the back of a fine second when favorite for the Vodacom Durban July.
As in that race, Marinaresco has an unfavorable wide draw (14). But before the Durban July, jockey Grant van Niekerk was confident the 19 draw that time would not cause too many problems. Supporters must hope he is just as happy tomorrow.
Marinaresco’s official rating is now 109, two pounds above Champions Cup rival New Predator, which puts him well placed at the weights, making him a worthy favorite.
Favorites have won the last three runnings of the Champions Cup.
Durban July also-rans Saratoga Dancer, Dynamic and St. Tropez are back to take on Marinaresco again, with the Joey Ramsden-trained gelding St. Tropez, who finished second to Solid Speed in the Betting World 1900, expected to make a bold bid.
Second favorite in the 16-strong field is Exit Here, who was an outsider when he won the G3 Cup Trial. Other contenders include Punta Arenas, Baritone, No Worries, Judicial and Rocketball.
The race - and possibly the emotional highlight of the season - is being shown live on local TV, while U.S. punters can live-steam it at Advance Deposit Wagering sites like TVG, TwinSpires, Xpressbet, BetAmerica, WatchandWager and NYRA Rewards. Racing fans can also get form guides and tips on major South African and international races on Sky Racing World’s website www.australianracing.com.