Racing mixes with racy outfits at Met
The Met is much more than a horse race. Raced in the dreamy Cape just as summer comes off its peak, it has come to symbolise the glamour of the racing game in South Africa.
If the Durban July is all about power and glory - with the prestige of the country's premier race, alcohol-fuelled corporate show-offs and big money wagering - the Met provides a more elegant, romantic interlude.
Met Day is like a huge garden party with equine entertainments. At Cape Town's foremost social bash, being seen in the exclusive enclosures in eye-catching finery is, for many, at least as important as what passes the winning post first.
As such, the poshest do in racing is rather more than just the second-biggest race day in the land. A party with cavorting celebrities, outré outfits, sunshine and wine will always attract that extra bit of attention.
It's small wonder whisky maker J&B has continued to pump money into staging the event since 1978, becoming horse racing's longest-standing sponsor.
J&B might already be an upmarket brand, but it still picks up priceless cache and glitzy publicity from the Met.
This is not to say the racing itself ain't important. For racing folk, it's right up there in quality, and for those of us who cannot be at glorious Kenilworth tomorrow, it is racing form rather than haute couture and haute cuisine that must be our focus.
Speaking of which, tomorrow's 130th renewal looks a competitive affair - at least among the well-backed horses.
Handicap conditions for the Met are intended to ensure that the most talented horses do well. They're not heavily penalised with weight in the saddle for their past successes and can show their true worth, all else being equal. This year the classiest contenders are also the ones with the most compelling recent form, theoretically narrowing down our choice of most likely winner. Top jockey Anthony Delpech, who hasn't landed a choice booking for the Met, says he can see the winner coming from only "four or five" horses and hasn't bothered to scratch around for a mount on an apparent no-hoper.
That seems a fair assessment.
Topping the betting boards at 18/10 is four-year-old colt Jackson, who is obviously a top racehorse and does well on this course. But many pundits and punters haven't shaken off the bruising they took when he failed to meet a previous big challenge, in the 2012 July.
July winner Pomodoro has had a brilliant lead-up to the Met, with little having been in his favour. He has a good barrier draw, has had time to acclimatise to Cape Town and has the peerless services of Piere Strydom in the irons. Feisty mare Beach Beauty is consistent and is almost guaranteed to have a say in the finish.
MET BETTING: 18/10 Jackson, 7/2 Pomodoro, 11/2 Beach Beauty, 10/1 Slumdogmillionaire, 12/1 King Of Pain, 14/1 Master Plan, 15/1 Bravura, 20/1 Run For It, 22/1 Hill Fifty Four, 40/1 Martial Eagle, 50/1 Tribal Dance, 66/1 Bulsara, Black Wing, 80/1 Ice Machine, In Writing, 100/1 Fabiani.
MET (KENILWORTH RACE 8): 2 Pomodoro, 15 Beach Beauty, 4 Master Plan, 1 Jackson
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