The Grade 1 J&B Met, due to be run at Kenilworth on Saturday, is the big race in South Africa this weekend. Timeform's Matt Gardner analyses the race in an attempt to find the winner...
"Pomodoro won last season's Durban July, joining the likes of Dynasty and Flaming Rock, both top horses, in winning that event having been drawn in the widest stall..."
Many see the 2012 renewal of the J&B Met as a straight out fight between just three horses, namely Jackson, Pomodoro and Beach Beauty, despite the relatively large field size of 16. With that in mind it is most likely best to deal with that trio first before moving on to a couple that look to have chances at a bigger price.
Jackson is arguably a deserved favourite with him being unbeaten over the 2000 metre distance, and he is looking to atone for his reversal in the Durban July last season. The Brett Crawford-trained Jackson was well fancied that day but raced keenly, failing to deliver the blistering turn of foot that his supporters are accustomed too, but he does look to have an excellent chance of rewarding their continuing faith here. He has finished second to Variety Club, the best miler in South Africa, on each of his last three starts, all over a distance that appears to be short of his best, and he appeals as being very much the one to beat.
Pomodoro won last season's Durban July, joining the likes of Dynasty and Flaming Rock, both top horses, in winning that event having been drawn in the widest stall. He has demonstrated his versatility in landing races over both sprint distances and a mile since that day and is very closely matched with Jackson on their running in the Queen's Place last time, narrowly being edged out for second place by that rival and, with jockey Piere Strydom looking for his third win in this race having been successful aboard London News in 1997 and Angus in 2003, Pomodoro seems certain to go close.
Three of the last four renewals of the J&B Met have been won by mares, with River Jetez triumphing in 2010 and Igugu last season, and the Dennis Dryer-trained Beach Beauty is looking to continue that trend this term. She threw her hat into the ring for this contest in no uncertain terms with a facile success in the Paddock Stakes and connections will be hopeful of her making amends for an arguably unlucky fifth in this race last year with success this time around.
One well worth noting at a bigger price is Master Plan, who enjoyed a fantastic three-year-old campaign when winning four of his eight starts, including the Grade 2 Derby and the Grade 1 Champions Cup. Although yet to scale similar heights this time around he was fairly unfortunate not to finish closer in the Queen's Place last time, being quite badly hampered around 250 metres from home, and he is one that could slip under the radar in the market.
Being the only three-year-old in the field King Of Pain, trained by Joey Ramsden, receives weight from all of his rivals but of more interest is Slumdogmillionaire, who was something of an eyecatcher when a fast-finishing fifth in the Queen's Plate. That was just his second run back from a nine month absence having had surgery to remove a chipped bone, and it could just be that he will be at his peak for this event.
Of the three market principals it is Pomodoro that makes most appeal at the likely odds, with last season's Durban July winner having very little to find with market leader Jackson on their running in the Queen's Plate. Beach Beauty has to be respected but a more appealing alternative could be to support one of either Master Plan or Slumdogmillionaire at a bigger price, with the former having a definite chance of returning to the form of last year and the latter likely to be at full fitness having now had two runs since his lengthy absence.
Back Pomodoro @ 5.04/1 in the J&B Met