‘Unconquerable’ Rio to right wrongs in Easter Sprint

Justin Snaith (Left) - Credits to 4Racing

Former Equus Champion Sprinter Rio Querari may not be the force of old but Justin Snaith’s sprinting stable stalwart is undeniably at his best with Grant van Niekerk in the saddle.

In 16 associations together, Rio Querari has registered four wins and four seconds as well as three third-place and three fourth-place finishes, missing the frame just twice under Van Niekerk – those being a close-up fifth (beaten 1.65 lengths by Pearl Of Asia) in the 2021 Grade 1 Mercury Sprint; and respectable sixth (2.40 lengths off) behind multiple Grade 1 winner Thunderstruck in the Winchester Sprint Cup earlier this summer.

This seven-year-old gelding has maintained a good level of form and consistency in three subsequent outings under Daniel Muscutt (twice) and Richard Fourie. However, reuniting with Van Niekerk could eke out that little bit of improvement needed to recapture the winning thread in Tuesday 2 April’s Easter Sprint over 1100m, which is Race 7 on the eight-race card at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth.

The Grade 3 Champagne Stakes over 1200m back in May last year was the last time Rio Querari won a race but that 337-day wait for career win number eight is likely to end at the midweek Cape Town fixture.
While Mufasa is the only runner in the race to have won over 1100m, Rio Querari has done more than enough to prove his efficiency over the distance with a second, a third and a fourth in three appearances over the trip.

The latest of those was November’s Bantry Bay Stakes in which Van Niekerk steered his mount to a creditable 2.65-length fourth behind Thunderstruck, who franked that form by going on to finish second in the Grade 1 Cape Flying Championship before winning the Grade 2 Khaya Stables Diadem Stakes.

Dance Variety, Mr Cobbs and Mufasa finished behind Rio Querari on that occasion and are worse off at the weights so are held on that course-and-distance form.
However, both Mr Cobbs and Mufasa are closely matched on the form of their 1000m Cape Flying Championship meeting and reoppose on 4.5kg better terms.

Rio Querari is also 1.5kg worse off with Dance Variety after finishing two lengths adrift of that rival over 1000m in their most recent clash on 16 March.

Despite these weight turnarounds, Rio Querari is the joint best-weighted runner so should – if official ratings are anything to by – give another honest and competitive account of himself, especially under Van Niekerk who was aboard Rio Querari in his Grade 1 Computaform Sprint romp in 2021 having won the Grade 2 Diadem Stakes in his previous outing.

When taking into account that Van Niekerk also piloted Rio Querari to finish second in the 2021 Grade 2 Cape Merchants as well as both the 2021 and 2023 Grade 1 Cape Flying Championships, there can be little doubt that “Van The Man” gets the best out of him which bodes well for his chances.

There will be value on offer with Rio Querari in the each-way market, given the recent collateral form and revised weight terms, which should present bettors with an attractive betting opportunity on which shrewd players are unlikely to miss out. In the words of former Western Cape race-caller, Rouvaun Smit: “Class will prevail!”

In the preceding event – 1200m Taking The Reins Middle Stakes (Race 6) – Unconquearble Lady is also likely to be rewarded for her consistency. She won over 1250m at Hollywoodbets Durbanville in September and has finished third in her three subsequent outings over 1400m, despite incurring a three-point penalty.

Candice Bass-Robinson’s runner, who will again be ridden by owner Lady Laidlaw’s Khaya Stables retained jockey Craig Zackey, was raised another point (0.5kg) by the handicapper for finishing just 0.40 lengths behind Summer Lily last time, but that is unlikely to prevent her from making another bold winning bid.

This three-year-old daughter of Danon Platina was only collared late last time, having led for much of the way, so the drop back to this shorter distance should be right up her alley.

Clive Robinson

Author: Melissa