By Sarah Whitelaw
Capetown Noir was a convincing winner of the Cape Premier Yearling Sales Guineas (SAf-I) in South Africa Dec. 22.
The Guineas, run at Kenilworth at 1,600 meters, is South Africa’s sole one-mile group I race for 3-year-old colts. It is widely regarded as the country’s premier mile event for sophomores. Recent Cape Guineas winners include subsequent leading sires Jet Master and Captain Al, as well as the likes of Horse Chestnut and Variety Club–both of whom were named Horse of the Year.
Capetown Noir was sent out a firm even-money favorite to give his trainer, Dean Kannemeyer, a fifth win in the Cape’s premier classic race. Kannemeyer’s recent Guineas winners include Noordhoek Flyer, Le Drakkar, and Express Way.
An unlucky second in the classic trial, the group II Selangor Cup, in his previous start, Capetown Noir was backed over his conqueror, King of Pain, and the promising Black Minnaloushe colt Black Toga. The Guineas lineup also included promising Trippi colt Paterfamilias, and high-class Natal raider Love Struck.
Capetown Noir was given a superb ride by veteran Cape jockey Karl Neisius, who had the colt nicely positioned on the rail, just off the pace set by Black Toga. Coming to the top of the straight, Capetown Noir was given his head by Neisius, and from there always looked hard to catch. The pair drew clear of their chasing rivals and never looked in danger of defeat.
The winning margin was 3 1/4 lengths, with Natal raider Chave De Ouro (himself a son of former Guineas winner Jet Master) in second. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to the front-runner Black Toga, who finished ahead of second favorite King of Pain, with Sanshaawes farther back in fifth position.
Capetown Noir, who was landing his first feature event, has now won three of his five starts and has yet to finish out of the first two. He is the second Cape Guineas winner for owner Lady Christine Laidlaw, whose Noordhoek Flyer won the same race in 2009.
Bred by the Lammerskraal Stud, Capetown Noir, a 1,000,000 rand (US$116,944) buy at the 2011 Emperors Palace National Yearling Sale, is a son of multiple champion sire Western Winter out of the Fort Wood mare Akinfeet. His dam was third in the UAE 1000 Guineas in 2003 when finishing under five lengths off subsequent Prix Vermeille (Fr -I) winner Mezzo Soprano.
Capetown Noir, formerly named Custodian, is the second son of Western Winter to win the Cape Guineas, following Solo Traveller in 2010.