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– Written by Mark van Deventer

(Image of ISIVUNGUVUNGU by Chase Liebenberg)

Canny conditioner, Peter Muscutt has targeted G1 Computaform Sprint hero, ISIVUNGUVUNGU at the World Pool Cape Flying Championships, and the muscular speedball by former sprint king, WHAT A WINTER, could gain another G1 honour racing over his favourite 1000m distance.

He was run out of it late by reopposing THUNDERSTRUCK in a seasonal opener three weeks ago, when weak in the market, and should have benefited from that “sighter”. A fully primed and cranked up ISIVUNGUVUNGU, ridden by ace jock, Richard Fourie will be tough to beat, especially if the track continues to play to speed horses down the straight. He is favoured at 16/10.

(Image of THUNDERSTRUCK by Chase Liebenberg)

THUNDERSTRUCK remains a daunting adversary. He was a super juvenile and has trained on to be at the top of his game as a four-year-old, running some big figures while going close in the Golden Horse, Merchants and Mercury Sprint (merely half a length off ISIVUNGUVUNGU). He does tend to hang though, a chink that his main rival will try exploit when the pressure is on, but they remain justifiably close in the betting with THUNDERSTRUCK offered at 22/10.

The only other runner in single figures is DYCE at 9/2. Trainer Lucky Houdalakis deserves full credit for patching up this William Longsword horse who has somehow managed to win six races in a career troubled by injury. The fickle five-year-old sports an equivalent OMR of 130 to ISIVUGUVUNGU. If the assessors are accurate based on his Highveld exploits, DYCE will be right there when it counts.

At the ante-post prices, SURJAY, BEREAVE and RIO QUERARI are next with win probabilities of around 6% -7%. The former is game and consistent, having previously run right upsides of THUNDERSTRUCK and ISIVUNGUVUNGU, so is a slight overlay at 12/1. But he is at his absolute best in stiff sprints rather than 56.6 second dashes – the time recorded by THUNDERSTRUCK over this course and distance in early January.

(Image of RIO QUERARI by Chase Liebenberg)

RIO QUERARI ran second in this G1 race last year, closing ground late to get within a neck of subsequent champion sprinter, GIMME A PRINCE in a sterling effort. He’s not quite been at that level since, and the rising-eight-year-old veteran is a couple of lengths shy of the main protagonists on recent form. This may be the former sprint star’s final outing before a well-deserved retirement.

G2 Diadem Stakes winner, BEREAVE was only .75 lengths off THUNDERSTRUCK recently and ran RIO QUERARI close in a mid-winter sprint. He’s not totally sound so tends to drift about in races while mixing his form, but the 14/1 lurker would be entitled to get into the fray on his peak showings.