1. ASHTON PARK. Lining up from barrier 7, the 8-year- old Battersea Park gelding romped to victory in the Independence Trophy after an impressive showing in the Breeders Champions Cup when finishing second to Castle Tankard rival Comanche Brave. Before these two outings, he’d swept to victory in the IPi Tombe Stakes over half a mile, defeating archrival Mathematician. South African Jockey Hennie Greyling jumps into the saddle for the Penny Fisher trained stalwart, who also doubles as the top weight for the 2018 class of the Castle Tankard.
2. KILRAIN. M. J. Byleveld is entrusted to guide the son of Dynasty to a $30 000 payday. The South African raider conditioned by Champion trainer Mike De Kock is chomping at the bit to hit top stride raking up 1 win, a second placing and a third place finish in his last 5 outings. He was most recently upstaged by the in – form Dawn Assault in his last outing when finishing third in the gruelling 1800m test. The yard will seek atonement here.
3. MASTER SWITCH. One of three unknown quantities in this field, The South African import brings lukewarm form but has shown signs of ability earning a 5 TH placing in competitive races split between South of the Limpopo and Zimbabwe. Wayne Agrella jumps into the saddle for the Penny Fisher stable with his mount boasting a sizeable amount of race experience among the entrants lined up for the class of 2018.
4. COMANCHE BRAVE. Winner of last year’s Tankard in the most dramatic of circumstances, the 5-year- old gelding faces up against his rivals once again looking to repeat the heroics of 2017. He has displayed rapid improvement in his last three outings reversing a dramatic dip in form in his recent excursions. Sherman Brown will be bullish in the irons for the Bridget Stidolph yard and with good reason. Starts off as second favourite. Last year’s champion, paired up with an experienced Jockey. This partnership that will be catapulted to immortality should they pull off the impossible and retain the crown, a feat only ever done once before. The 5-year- old has since changed trainers from Amy Bronkhorst and is now under the stewardship of Stidolph. Form is not markedly convincing. Will have to be in impeccable form to pull off the fairy tale.
5. MATHEMATICIAN. Form has been moderate. Disconcertingly so at times. Local boy Brendon McNaughton will fly the local flag high in the premier event on the horseracing calendar. Will have to knuckle down to get anywhere close to the front-runners. At 5 years of age, the son of Black Minnaloushe still possesses enough spirit and guile to outwit the best of them on his day. He was recently relegated to a mere 6 th placing in his last outing in the Independence Trophy on the 18 th of April. Will prove good value for exotics.
6. AMSTERDAM. The dark horse of this race. Has not had much opportunity to lay down any sort of statement of intent. Only run once in Zimbabwe when finishing 3 rd to Ashton Park in the IPi Tombe Stakes on the 18 th of February 2018, he is yet to show the world what he is about. Paired this time with Jockey Greg Cheyne and jumping from barrier 2, he should give them all a good set to.
7. SIMONA. Another runner put forward from Bridget Stidolph’s stable, the 4-year- old filly has been setting the turf alight with some remarkable performances on the local circuit. Cometh the hour, cometh the filly? No rider is yet declared on the daughter of Gimmethegreenlight at the time of going to print. Form is faultless. Expect a hearty run. Rarely puts a foot wrong. She will relish the light weight of 52 kgs.
8. LEVEN POINT. 17 runs under her belt, 3 wins and 4 places. The statistics do not make for confident reading. The 4-year- old little filly with a big heart however has managed to set the local racing scene alight and finds herself facing her biggest challenge yet. The Jockey is still to be decided. The draw is barrier 8. Whoever jumps into the irons will be under no illusions of the enormity of the task at hand facing up against much more esteemed rivals boasting vast levels of experience. Surprises are the nature of the Castle Tankard. This is could be
more than likely one of them.
9. PHANTOM MAJOR. Another unpredictable element thrown in the mix from the Kirk Swanson yard, the light weight will no doubt play into the hands of 4 year old Sarge gelding. Francois Herholdt is tasked with making full utilisation of the lurker in the pack. Under his guidance this consistent campaigner may just pull off a fast one and take the biggest prize in Zimbabwean horseracing. He should relish the light weight of 52 kgs. Has the added advantage of having raced further than the 2000m.
10. ROMAN DISCENT Bridget Stidolph sends out the final contender in the form of this 5-year- old gelding. Originally imported from down South, the son of Dynasty marks his return to the Tankard in a baptism of fire. Will need to show more than has already displayed in order to have any impact here. Awaiting jockey selection, he will be one of the rank outsiders, relegated by the bookmakers to long shot 20 to 1 odds.