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– Written by Mark van Deventer

LUCE VERDE is predicted to have a strong chance in Race 2 at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth on Sunday, stretching out beyond a mile for the first time in his short six start career. 

Brett Crawford will have him at a peak third run after a rest, and a literal reading of his form compared to high-class SplashOut Cape Derby Gr1 victor, GREEN WITH ENVY (if doing some retrospective handicapping revision), may peg him on a mark considerably higher than his current official assessment of 80.   

Jockey Luyulo Mxothwa should be able to get a good trip, racing closer to the action than usual from draw 3 in an 8-runner field, where there is no obvious pace signed on. 

LUCE VERDE’s main rivals are the older MARSHALL FIELD, who has a powerful stretch run but would prefer a fast pace to run at, and the Justin Snaith-trained and Grant van Niekerk piloted LIGHTNING GLOW, who won
the Cape Turf Club Syndicates Maiden Plate in January.

MAJESTIC WARRIOR and FLY FUTURA can be used underneath in tris and quartets.  

Crawford also saddles confirmed speedball, THE ABDICATOR, who showed impressive raw pace a month ago over the course and distance to hold off subsequent Gr2 Khaya Stables Diadem Stakes second placed, FUTURE VARIETY.  

(Image of THE ABDICATOR by Chase Liebenberg)

The Irish-bred son of No Nay Never has been revitalised by gelding and fitting different headgear. If the straight track is still running quick, he could yet again be hard to reel in over five panels.

He will need to stave off several live threats in Race 8, though. TOUGH TERRAIN is better off at the weights based on a clash in November, BLUE HOLLY is a smart filly over the short cuts, NORDIC CHIEF earned a nice figure last time when sporting blinkers, KING OF THE GAULS goes well for Richard Fourie and is held in high esteem by connections, while BLUFF ON BLUFF was completely outpaced by THE ABDICATOR last time but can get involved if things set up differently. 

P6, Jackpot and Bipot bettors needing to short select in an earlier leg can focus on KELP FOREST, KEBONALESEDI and LE LEGIONNAIRE in Race 6 – a low-level handicap over 1400m for horses with a net rating of 74 or less.  

There are quite a few that race handy, especially CHAMPAGNE MAC who is a pace threat from the inside alley, while ASPECT is another that likes to go hard early. That could tee things up for late runs from in-form closers, KEBONALESEDI and the consistent KELP FOREST (stiff last time when continually held up). 

LE LEGIONNAIRE races for Mauritian owner and now fully committed supporter of Cape Racing, Denis Le Breton. The recent record of the Vercingetorix gelding trained by Des McLachlan may not be too flash, but he made a winning debut in July 2023 where he beat LUCE VERDE. He has  “hidden” back form behind Gr1 performer, Hluhluwe, which is good enough for this class level.  

McLachlan will have him fitter second run after a rest and gelding. LE LEGIONNAIRE may catch a sudden wake up off his lowered rating of 80 and boost exotic divvies. 

Images by Chase Liebenberg