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– Written by Mark van Deventer

A full field of 16 will line up for the G2 Cape Merchants, and punters will need to burn the midnight oil trying to find a winner given the range of form and spread at the weights. A possible shortlist comprises Surjay, Countdown, Wecangoallnight and King Regent.

Surjay sets the standard as a top class, consistent sprinter. Brett Crawford inherited the horse when Michael Robinson quit training, and has since campaigned the gelding with distinction in the Cape and in KZN. Surjay will carry 60.5kg’s so faces a stern test, but should get a good stalking trip from draw 3 before pouncing at an opportune moment He has a fine record over the course and distance, and supporters can be assured of yet another forward display.

Countdown is a huge threat receiving 6kg’s, which equates to about three and a half lengths over 1200m. Richard Fourie partners this in-form sprinter with the cheetah- like stride. Glen Kotzen has specially set down this race as Countdown’s target and his charge can contend for the win.

Kotzen also saddles King Regent whose forte is sprinting, though he’s been tried over longer distances. Carrying 58.5 kg’s makes his assignment a difficult one, but he can press the pace (assuming he jumps alertly) and kick on into the fray.

Wecangoallnight also comes with a few question marks. He is bred for further but tends to make life difficult for his jockey by fighting and pulling, so Eric Sands is keeping him to fast run extended sprints where he can settle better. He runs well for jockey Sean Veale, and a testing six furlongs could work out just fine. Wecangoallnight has the raw ability and finishing dash to duke it out with top notch foes carrying just 54kg’s.

Cosmic Highway has been given a chance by the official handicapper. He comes in with 55kg’s, and if he can step up a couple of lengths on his two recent starts –  perhaps even regain the brilliance he flashed when younger –  then Dean Kannemeyer’s entry will be a factor.

Other Contenders:

– Quasiforsure is remarkably versatile, but has been given a hard task off 58.5 kg’s.

– Bartholdi has become an enigmatic customer tried over a variety of distances, yet likes 1200m best.

– Montien turns back to sprints after using his long stride to prosper over 1400/1600.

– Noble City’s fitness is hard to assess after a lengthy spell, and he’s another that may be more at ease over a mile though he’s sprinted well enough here in the past.

– Mufasa is a pace-presser who can hit the frame at best carrying a low weight while Silver Falcon has a similar running style yet lumbers a 7kg heavier burden.

This is one challenging year-end exam for punters, and it will take handicapping savvy plus a dollop of good fortune to bring down the winning Quartet combo. P6/Jackpot bettors will do well to come through this Leg intact. At a minimum, 3 – 14 – 5 -10 are the suggested numbers for Hollywoodbets Kenilworth Race 7.