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– Written by Mark van Deventer

(Image of THUNDERSTRUCK by Chase Liebenberg)

THUNDERSTRUCK can provide Sean Tarry and Richard Fourie with a Grade 2 score in the Khaya Stables Diadem Stakes at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth on Saturday, 24 February, though it could be a close-run thing with COSMIC HIGHWAY, BEREAVE and SURJAY lurking as significant threats in this 1200m event. 

THUNDERSTRUCK won a Grade 1 sprint at two and has trained on to be one of SA’s top exponents over the short cuts. He has the optimal running style for turf sprints, racing handy in the early stages then kicking away mid race. He is classy and uber-consistent, has not missed a drum since April 2023, and is officially weighted to win with a four-point edge over BEREAVE. 

BEREAVE, who won this race last year from GIMME A PRINCE, has since twice gotten within a length of THUNDERSTRUCK at level weights. He confirmed his well-being with a fine stab at the World Pool Cape Flying Championship (the 1000m dash was won by DYCE over THUNDERSTRUCK) and rates a major danger. 

COSMIC HIGHWAY’s career has ebbed and flowed. Brilliant at two over sprints and tried with some success over further as a three-year-old, before he went “missing.” Gelding a year ago did the trick, and he has come back to form with a vengeance during the Cape Summer Season.  

He won his penultimate sprint over this course and distance with a stylish late flurry over the re-opposing COUNTDOWN, and there is no disgrace in getting beaten five lengths by CHARLES DICKENS over a mile which is what happened 49 days ago in the L’Ormarins King’s Plate.  

SURJAY sports a razor-sharp record over the Hollywoodbets Kenilworth straight six. He is 5.5kg better off at the weights with COSMIC HIGHWAY for a half a length defeat in the Gr2 Cape Merchants, and ran within three quarters of a length of THUNDERSTRUCK at levels in the Bantry Bay Stakes. Those performances entitle him to obvious respect, even if its 469 days since Brett Crawford’s entry last won a race. 

(Image of FUTURE VARIETY by Chase Liebenberg)

RIO QUERARI and FUTURE VARIETY are at opposite ends of their careers. The former, an emphatic winner of this race (in 2021) that could be headed for retirement as he nears his 8th birthday – having done his connections proud by winning seven races (including the Gr1 Computaform Sprint). Trainer Justin Snaith reports his charge is doing well and sounder than ever. 

Three-year-old FUTURE VARIETY is an emerging talent. He gets just 3kg on these weight-for-age terms, which might not quite be sufficient. Nevertheless, he is very smart with considerable upside potential and should be added to the lower slots when crafting trifecta and quartet tickets. 

SILVER FALCON gets first-time blinkers and comes in primed third up after a rest. He compiled a winning streak of five wins on the bounce between May and August ’23 versus weaker foes, but was out-finished in the Cape Merchants and may find this just a bit too tough. 

The Cape Nursery winner over this C/D from two years ago, WE’RE JAMMING, needs to boost his recent numbers, while WATERBERRY LANE has been struggling over further in recent outings and needs to shine up to have any hope. 

The Khaya Stables Diadem Stakes Gr2 is carded as Race 7 at the SplashOut Seafood & Jazz Racing Festival at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth on Saturday, 24 February 2024. Off time is at 15h35.