Champions Cup has brought together a group of the best horses in the country

The R1-million, Grade 1 World Sports Betting Champions Cup (1800m) at Greyville on Saturday, July 29 has the hallmarks of a race that could go down as one of the greatest thoroughbred clashes in South African racing history.

Captain America, picture Nkosi Hlophe

Run at the Theatre of Champions on the first day of the two-day Gold Cup Festival of Racing Weekend that also features the R1.25-million eLan Gold Cup, the race has brought together a group of the best horses in the country including four Grade 1 winners that could all make their mark on the international stage.

The World Sports Betting Champions Cup heads the nine-race card on the Saturday and will be followed on the Sunday by a 10-race programme that, in addition to the eLan Gold Cup over 3 200m, also features the final races in the season’s juvenile programme, the R750 000, Grade 1 Premiers Champion Stakes and the R750 000, Grade 1 Thekwini Stakes for fillies with both races being contested over 1 600m.

Heading the 12-horse field for the World Sports Betting Champions Cup are two of the top horses from the Cape, Captain America from the Brett Crawford stable that thrashed the opposition in the Grade 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge and Marinaresco from the Candice Bass-Robinson stable that defied his top weight to win Africa’s Greatest horserace, the R4.25-million, Grade 1 Vodacom Durban July and will be bidding to complete the Champions Cup double.

Bela-Bela VDJ day 2017, picture Liesl King

Capable of upsetting all her opponents and also from the Cape is the brilliant Dynasty filly Bela-Bela from the Justin Snaith stable that demolished her opposition in the Grade 1 Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes and is likely to be retired to stud after the meeting. Her impressive record includes victory in the Grade 1 Paddock Stakes at Kenilworth at the beginning of the year.

Also in the field is the winner of the Grade 1 President’s Champion Challenge at Turffontein, Deo Juvente from the Geoff Woodruff stable, that had to be withdrawn from the Vodacom Durban July due to a set-back in training. The Woodruff yard is renowned for producing winners of big races and this Trippi gelding will be a major contender in this race.

The surprise winner of the Grade 2 Betting World 1900 at Greyville earlier in the season, Ten Gun Salute from the Duncan Howells yard, is also among the runners and his disappointing unplaced run in the Vodacom Durban July is best ignored as he suffered major interference in the running.

With the other well-performed runners like It’s My Turn, Sail South, Judicial, Matador Man and Black Arthur also in the field, this race could be the highlight of the weekend and the season as they fight out what should be a thrilling finish.

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