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Thu Jun 30 15:59:38 SAST 2016

Keep calm and Carry On with Alice

Mike Moon | 18 January, 2016 00:09
Mike Moon. File photo
Image by: SUPPLIED / Times Media Group

Some of the greatest names in South African horse racing are on the racecard this weekend. Would you believe Sea Cottage and London News?

Racing fans of a certain age will vividly remember a Saturday morning in 1997 when the race caller in Hong Kong yelled out from our tellies: "It's London News! He's every bit as good as they said he was!"

As the first South African horse to run outside the country in decades, London News beating the best in the world and smashing a course record at Sha Tin in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes was a very big deal.

Racing victims of a rather more uncertain age might say Sea Cottage in the 1960s was an even bigger deal, and the slight colt with an electrifying finish was the best horse they ever saw.

But we come not to quibble but to praise them. For that is why their names are in the racecards. The two races named in honour of these champs were postponed from last week after the deluge at Turffontein; thankfully, as not only do we get the chance to remember past glories but the current runners get much-needed preparations and qualifiers for bigger events on the horizon.

French Navy, Mac De Lago and Flying The Flag, who line up in tomorrow's Grade 3 London News Stakes over the Standside 1800m, are all entries for the Met in Cape Town in two weeks' time and their performances here could determine whether they get loaded up for the long drive south.

French Navy is a notoriously sleepy guy, only waking up to what's going on in the closing furlongs, but when he finally rouses himself to a gallop, boy can he belt it. Mac De Lago looks like his only threat here.

Regarding the Listed Sea Cottage Stakes, all I can say is it's about time the race got an upgrade and a quality of three-year-old befitting the memory of the legend. If I have to pick one it'll be Val Et Al.

The biggest race of the weekend is a Grade 2 stakes clash in Cape Town tomorrow and it is also named after a horse. Sceptre was a phenomenal race mare who campaigned in England at the turn of the 20th century and was the only horse to win four British Classic races.

Her feisty spirit is celebrated in a 1200m sprint down the Kenilworth straight. And you'll encounter few more feisty than Carry On Alice.

Trainer Sean Tarry's four-year-old daughter of Captain Al has already garnered two Grade 1 victories. And when she doesn't win she generally runs second. I love this horse. Who knows, one day we might even name a race after her. But instead of a boring old Carry On Alice Stakes, how about the Alice Carry-On?

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