In another twist involving the public protector’s office‚ the Minister of Co-operative Governance an.
Trainer Charles Laird holds a strong hand in the Grade 1 Champions Challenge to be run over 2000m at Turffontein on Saturday.
The R2million race is one of eight graded races to be run on Champions Day at Turffontein. The two other Grade 1 races are the R1,5million SA Derby and the R1million Computaform Sprint over 1000m.
Also run on the day are the SA Oaks over 2450m, the Gold Bowl over 2850m, the Nursery and Fillies Nursery over 1160m and the Camellia Stakes over 1160m, all Grade 2 races.
Laird has four runners in the Champions Challenge, headed up by HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes winner Smart Banker, to be ridden by stable jockey Anton Marcus. Also in the race are Likeithot (Sean Cormack), Senor Versace (Andrew Fortune) and Crown Of Power (Gavin Lerena).
Mike de Kock withdrew Steinhoff Summer Cup winner Rudra but the champion trainer will still be a force with SA Classic winner Forest Path and Gauteng Fillies Guineas champion Zirconeum. Johnny Geroudis, who rode him when second to Mentor in a Pinnacle Plate, gets the ride on Forest Path, while Anthony Delpech is up on Zirconeum.
Sean Tarry's Buy And Sell together with the Ormond Ferraris-trained She's On Fire, are the two best-weighted runners under the race conditions.
Paul Matchett's pairing of Cerise Cherry and Mount Hood will be looking to earn the R250000 bonus for topping the Triple Crown log when they contest the SA Derby over 2450m. No runner can win all three events but Cerise Cherry has already accumulated the minimum 13 points needed to claim the bonus and will do so as long as neither Mount Hood nor Royal Rez wins the race and Cerise Cherry finishes unplaced.
The Computaform Sprint sees a rematch of the recent clash between two up-and-coming sprint stars in Warm White Night and Private Jet. Laird's Warm White Night came up trumps last time but over this 1000m, Private Jet may have the edge.
However, they both could be under pressure from Cape Flying Championship winner Rebel King. Marcus rides Warm White Night, Strydom is on Private Jet and Fortune is aboard Rebel King.