•The packed fields for this prestigious day of racing are a testament to the healthy state of racing in Kenya, with any number of nags having a respectable chance of earning honours.
•Equally, the battle between the jockeys is a closely fought affair, with Henry Muya surging into the lead ahead of last season’s champion, Lesley Sercombe.
Horse racing returns with the Kenya Guineas— the first of the big classics— this weekend at the Ngong Race Course.
The entries for Kings Pattern Handicap and Kenya Guineas are among the biggest fields seen in years, promising an exciting meeting to match the festival around racing.
The 'Classics', are races which traditionally and historically pit the best horses in Kenya against each other, and the Kenya Guineas is the first in a series of these feature spectacles.
The packed fields for this prestigious day of racing are a testament to the healthy state of racing in Kenya, with any number of nags having a respectable chance of earning honours.
Equally, the battle between the jockeys is a closely fought affair, with Henry Muya surging into the lead ahead of last season’s champion, Lesley Sercombe.
Charles Kimani and veteran champion James Muhindi are chasing the two leaders in joint third, and the bullish young sensation, Michael Fundi, is sitting in fifth, hunting the seasoned veterans.
The fine weather that has recaptured the ‘City in the Sun’ means track conditions are likely to be good to firm, which means that the big race of the day, The Kenya Guineas, which happens at 3:55 PM, will be run at pace.
The time-honoured rituals of racing regard this middle-distance sprint as the trial for the Kenya Derby, the biggest race in the calendar, so there is a great deal at stake to understand where horses are and where they need to be.
It’s hard to pick a favourite for the 1600m Kenya Guineas, but Beeston, ridden by C Kimani, is the form horse, having both the staying power and a sprint in him, which are essential.
Bedford, ridden by M Fundi, on paper, is the main competition, and Dunleavy, ridden by Lesley Sercombe cannot be discounted. James Muhindi, the most consistent jockey to place or win, riding Carlisle, will be in the running.
The full and exciting six-card meeting is largely made up of middle-distance running and sprints, none with any clear favourites, which will make for exciting viewing and betting for punters and patrons alike.
The fixture gets underway at 1:30 PM with the Vayu Handicap, a 1200m sprint pitting Star in Wonder against Venetian Link.
The 1800m Risky Business Handicap at 2:05 PM stands Welcome Breeze from South Africa against Daisy, though the South African imports, by and large, do not seem to favour the harder ground for running their best gallops.
The 1600m African Storm Maiden at 2:40 pm has Ten Eighty as the easy favourite. The 3:15 PM Kings Pattern Handicap over 1600m is the second most prominent race of the day, packed with 10 runners, the most of any race in recent history.
The three leading jockeys, Muya, Sercombe, and Kimani, are all riding potential favourites, Sea Eagle, Bampton, and Wimborne respectively, in what should be the most strategically fought race of the day.
For the punters and dreamers, Maria is a realistic outside chance, and the skills of Fundi on Cindy are worth a wager.
The Duke of Manchester Cup is a 1,200m sprint at 4:30 pm, and largely an affair of South African imports. Daytime Girl ridden by Sercombe is the darling and banker, with the local Ripon, ridden Fundi, as the main contenders looking to upset the apple cart. Coffee Break is a reliable bet to place, as is Grand Surabi.
The end of the racing is the beginning of the sundowners and afterparty hosted in conjunction with Capital FM with mellifluous tunes and delectable delights from Geco Tribe, Maurizio’s, Fabio’s Pizza, 254 Breweries, Shawarma Mamma, Lekker, Nairobi Street Kitchen, and Need Gelato, as well as an assortment of other food and drink vendors making it an unmissable event, with music.