Who Will Star In The Hollywood Classic? Image: Chase Liebenberg

Who will star in the Hollywoodbets classic? 

A quality field of 15 has been accepted for Saturday’s R2 million Hollywoodbets Gr1 Cape Guineas.


Who Will Star In The Hollywood Classic? Image: Chase Liebenberg

A quality field of 15 has been accepted for Saturday’s R2 million Hollywoodbets Gr1 Cape Guineas to be run over the lush summer course mile at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth

Headed by unbeaten local star Charles Dickens, the vintage renewal includes hometown Gr1 winner Cousin Casey, as well as the visiting trio of Dingaans winner Union Square, his stablemate Shoemaker and Grant Maroun’s Graham Beck Stakes winner Anfields Rocket.  

There are varying opinions in the build-up banter. 

Is it really a match race? On paper, Charles Dickens and Cousin Casey look set for a head-to-head battle and will start from wide gates 11 and 14, respectively in the 1600m Grade 1 showpiece, run on the Hollywoodbets Kenilworth summer course with its kind 600m straight. 

Despite the gate inconvenience, Charles Dickens is 5/10 to stay unbeaten, whilst his seriously classy market rival is respected at 7/2.  

Host operator, Cape Racing, suggests that rating racehorses is part art, part science, and it’s rare for figure-makers to be in complete agreement.  

A son of Trippi, Charles Dickens, has an official rating of 121 ahead of Vercingetorix star Cousin Casey (115) and the two Highveld raiders, Union Square (116) and Shoemaker (114). 

Karel Miedema’s Raceform takes a more conservative view on the ratings, using a slightly different scale, but effectively also ranks Charles Dickens on top of the current classic generation with an RFR of 110 vs 107 for Cousin Casey, and ahead of the visiting brigade, including Anfields Rocket (RFR 103, draw 13/15). 

Respected classical weight handicapper Charles Faull reckons that Charles Dickens ‘could be the next Sea Cottage, Horse Chestnut or Politician in SAF’s racing value hierarchy’. A big statement – but the man has more knowledge and experience than most! 

Faull has chosen to reserve judgement until season end, but his preliminary ratings based on Charles Dickens’ concession of weight at a remarkable last start drubbing of older past Cape Guineas victor Russian Rock sends him into the figure makers’ stratosphere – 131 + versus Cousin Casey on 128.  

He also sees this year’s field as ‘particularly strong’ with the potential to yield five plus individual Grade 1 winner over time. 

One of those, At My Command (MR 109) fared well at the barrier draw and will have the inside gate. He has twice run with distinction against the track bias and may be upset if getting the run of the race. 

Image: Chase Liebenberg

The most recent ‘away’ winner was Soqrat in 2018.  

His jockey (Randall Simons) and trainer (Mike de Kock) combine again on Saturday with recent Dingaans winner Union Square. De Kock has a great record in the Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas, having won it in 2018 with Soqrat, 2015 (Noah From Goa), 2003 (Domino Man), 2002 (Flight Alert) and 1999 (Horse Chestnut). 

So, to overlook his runners is clearly folly. But Union Square (draw 4) and Shoemaker (draw 7) must up their game – not inconceivable given the surges of improvement properly conditioned three-year-old thoroughbreds can make.  

Jockeys who have won the Cape Guineas and are riding in the ‘classic of kings’ on Saturday include Corne Orffer, Randall Simons, Bernard Fayd’herbe and Piere Strydom. 

Trainers who have won the prestigious race previously are Justin Snaith, Brett Crawford, Mike de Kock and Vaughan Marshall. 

Charles Dickens is currently trading at 5-10 with the big race sponsors. Find something to beat and you are set for 2023. But don’t bond the house to do it. 

The Pick 6 commences in the fourth race at 13h20. A R1 million carryover means a likely pool of R6 million. 

The quartet carryover of R250 000 on the eighth race, the Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas, should mean a tidy R1 million to chase. Imagine finding the top 4, without Charles Dickens and Cousin Casey! Dream on. 

Aside from the exceptional racing on offer we have entertainment from the Kaapse Klopse and a host of other festivities for the whole family.

ALSO READ: Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas: ‘Charles Dickens the best horse I’ve trained’ – Candice Bass-Robinson