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– Written by Mark van Deventer

(Image of PRINCESS CALA by Chase Liebenberg)

For much of 2023, there was an aura of invincibility around multiple G1 winner, PRINCESS CALLA, who would beat the fillies virtually every time – regardless of course/distance or pace set up – and put-up bold showings against the colts, too. The highlight was defeating SEE IT AGAIN in the season-ending Champions Cup over 1800m at Hollywoodbets Greyville, which secured her Horse of the Year honours.

However, the six-year-old mare has not been able to sustain such excellence into the New Year. Sean Tarry’s charge got bested by KING REGENT in a season opener sprint, then finished 2.45 lengths off SEE IT AGAIN in the Green Point Stakes, and was out- finished by reopposing three-year-old filly, BEACH BOMB in the Paddock Stakes.

All three those runs are admirable; it’s just that the 11-time winner may no longer be as formidable as she used to be, and her faster-finishing younger adversary, the now dual G1 heroine, BEACH BOMB, is sufficiently talented to pull off a remarkable G1 three-peat.

(Image of RED PALACE by Chase Liebenberg)

RED PALACE was held tight in a pocket in that slow run Paddock States which led to her over-racing. She duly faded in the drive, clocking in 2.85 lengths back. A better option may have been to let her stride freely upfront and dictate terms as the leader. Maybe that tactical switch will be applied here and make her tough to pass – after all she raced handy and nearly beat the colts in the Cape Guineas, and only SNOW PILOT could sneak by her.

On recent collateral form, SAARTJIE, HAPPY CHANCE and GOLDEN HOSTESS come into the reckoning. The latter, who has a powerful turn of foot when all parts are in working order, blitzed HAPPY CHANCE in the Diana Stakes, followed by a flop, then a decent sprint, which was over too quickly for the daughter of GOLD STANDARD.

For her part, SAARTJIE just beat HAPPY CHANCE in the Victress Stakes, showing determination to get the nod in the level weights duel. Then, HAPPY CHANCE ran right next to both BEACH BOMB and PRINCESS CALLA in the Paddock Stakes – finishing quicker than the “Princess” but not as devastatingly as the “Bomb”. Brett Crawford’s DYNASTY filly is not the worst 10/1 shot you’ll find.

(Image of HAPPY CHANCE by Chase Liebenberg)

Another quoted at double digits, SAARTJIE (who missed the Paddock Stakes due to a skin allergy) is also right in this mix. And the expected true pace (RASCOVA coming across from the outer, plus low number draws – DOUBLE GRAND SLAM, GIMME A SHOT, RED PALACE and PRINCESS CALLA – all go best handy) might bring an off-pace runner with top notch form over middle distances, like SAARTJIE, bang into contention too.

ASIYE PHAMBILI blasted home in the 1200m Sceptre Stakes, nearly causing a massive boil over at 33/1 when falling only a neck short of OCTOBER MORN. The race was relatively slow run early on, and they finished in a clustered heap which casts some doubt over the value of the form. Taken literally, that was way better than anything she has shown to date, but even running to her revised official rating of 111 won’t be sufficient in this higher class.

MAKE IT SNAPPY is hard to assess coming back after 364 days off track. She did a remarkable BEACH BOMB type double in 22/23, scoring successively in the Fillies Guineas and Paddock Stakes, before going wrong in the Cape Town MET. It would be a training feat of note by Brett Crawford to bring her back and win a third Grade 1 after such a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Many punters will anchor 16/10 favourite, PRINCESS CALLA – after all she has repeatedly rewarded her staunch followers. However, a closer dissection of current form suggests she is no standout this time, and a wider spread is advised.

All of HAPPY CHANCE, RED PALACE, GOLDEN HOSTESS, SAARTJIE, BEACH BOMB and maybe even a rejuvenated MAKE IT SNAPPY have legit winning chances in what should be a cracking contest!

The City of Cape Town Majorca Stakes (WFA) (Grade 1) is carded as race 7 at the World Sports Betting Cape Town MET on 27 January – off time 15h25.