Christmas came early for the Van Zyl clan over the weekend with father Gavin saddling a three-timer and son Gareth chipping in with a double at Scottsville yesterday.
Path To Glory was a popular winner to get the ball rolling for Van Zyl senior at Greyville, who followed up with Princess Analia in the eighth under replacement rider Brandon Lerena deputising for Warren Kennedy who took a horrendous fall in the previous race.
Out My Way clipped heels and came down heavily rolling over Kennedy who already has a metal plate in his face, the aftermath of a crashing fall in Port Elizabeth some years back.
According to Van Zyl, Kennedy was out of hospital yesterday and cuts and bruises apart, he was in good spirits although he will be side-lined for a few weeks.
Van Zyl rounded off his weekend treble as the three-year-old Just Vogue continues to show improvement and put a useful field to the sword in an Allowance Plate with the luckless Miss Varlicious back in second.
Van Zyl Jnr-trained Budapest, without a win since his surprise end-to-end victory in the Lanzerac Ready to Run two seasons’ back, finally got his act together in yesterday’s Pinnacle Stakes, showing a commanding turn of foot to put his race to bed in a matter of strides.
A horse with plenty of talent, he aversion to the stating stalls have been a headache for his connections but the fitting of pacifiers for his races appear to have calmed him down and his last three races have been without major incident.
“He’s always been a horse with talent but his own worst enemy,” Van Zyl said. “He can turn it on when he wants to. Going through the 400 it was a case of would he turn it on or not.” He did and replacement rider Alec Forbes did the rest.
Duncan Howells endured a weekend of mixed fortunes. Night At The Proms finally put his maiden behind him on Friday night and Madam Excess in spite of being “three-quarters done” had enough in hand to come back strongly to edge out Florrick in yesterday’s card opener.
Disappointment of the weekend was Dawn Calling in the World Sports Betting Cape Fillies Guineas. Piere Strydom, battling a slipped saddle on Final Judgement, was all over the track and Dawn Calling never got to finish her race. “It was a long way to go to have it end like that,” concluded a frustrated Howells.
By Andrew Harrison
First blood to the defending champion. But the challenger and his entourage can hardly wait for the rematch on January 7, let alone the big money title fight three weeks later.
“Marinaresco had a dirty trach wash the previous week, we had to treat him and go a bit easy. Obviously that wasn’t ideal and they went quite hard which didn’t help either,” said Candice Bass-Robinson after her charge had run Legal Eagle to less than half a length in the WSB Green Point Stakes at Kenilworth on Saturday. Significantly she added, Queen’s Plate already in mind: “This is a horse who wants to win and that’s half the battle.”
Anton Marcus on the winner felt the game was up when Grant van Niekerk came off his tail and threw down the gauntlet in earnest – “I was a bit concerned when I had to go for my horse quite early and in the last half furlong I thought Grant was going to go past me. It’s a testament to my horse’s courage that he stuck his head out but this race proves there is very little between the two of them.”
Sean Tarry, though, made it clear that there will also be more to come from Markus Jooste’s Greys Inn gelding on Queen’s Plate day, saying: “I was a bit cheeky going into it with less work than I would normally do for a race of this stature.”
The third, Captain America, was over four lengths away with his pace-setting stable companion Sail South another three lengths further back but there were valid excuses for some of those down the field. Although the course vet could find nothing wrong Piere Strydom reported that he felt something amiss with Black Arthur (seventh) and Aldo Domeyer said the same about Helderberg Blue (last).
But perhaps the most telling explanation came from Mike Azzie for Triple Crown winner Abashiri who ran on into fifth after trailing the field much of the way. “I nearly took him out after the way he travelled – he didn’t eat for two and a half days. He now goes to Eric Sands’ yard and one of my assistants will come down to prepare him for the Queen’s Plate and the Met.”
The Majorca on January 28 looks like being the aim for Just Sensual who got up almost on the line to complete a notable double for Jooste and his retained jockey in the World Sports Betting Cape Fillies Guineas, landing some notable punts in the process. She was 16-1 on Thursday and was backed from 10-1 to 11-2 on the day. The Dynasty filly was bred by Majorca sponsors Klawervlei.
“We will probably go for the Majorca rather than the 1 800m of the Paddock Stakes but it’s not cast in stone. I have to discuss plans with Joey Ramsden,” said Derek Brugman who paid tribute to the trainer, saying: “He is something special and we are privileged having him train for us.”
Ramsden, who also won this race with Shadow Dancing 12 years ago, may be the effective first choice of the biggest spender in South African racing but he is certainly delivering the goods and, seemingly, he couldn’t understand why the pundits didn’t share his belief in the winner who has not been beaten since her debut in February – “She is very smart, I thought she was a big runner and I was surprised nobody else really liked her.”
She beat Safe Harbour a neck and, although there was more than three lengths back to third-placed favourite Querari Falcon, the next six were covered by less than a length in what proved to be a very rough race with the stipes spending almost as much time working out who was guilty of what as the Public Protector.
Final Judgement (eighth) was forced to ease and Piere Strydom had to contend with a slipping saddle almost from the start, Dawn Calling (12th) was hampered three times, Whose That Girl (tenth) was knocked off balance and gamble of the race Quick Brown Fox suffered more than any of them (Greg Cheyne: “She got her legs taken out from under her”).
World Sports Betting realised they had got it horribly wrong almost as soon as they priced up Search Party at 25-1 last weekend. Punters showed them no mercy all week and the money continued on the day with Delma Sherrell’s gelding going off 7-2 joint favourite. Corne Orffer promptly made all to give Brett Crawford his first Cape Merchants.
Glen Kotzen is targeting the R1 million Kuda Sprint on Met day for Gold Image who led throughout under Richard Fourie in the first two-year-old race of the Cape season. “We pre-trained her for the CTS Ready To Run and I couldn’t see her getting beat,” he related.
By Michael Clower
She’s A Giver, despite being drawn widest of all and drifting in the market, can give Gavin Lerena his second successive super Saturday in the World Sports Betting Cape Fillies Guineas at Kenilworth tomorrow.
The Johan Janse van Vuuren-trained filly was a revelation in the Starling Stakes at Turffontein, leading just under two furlongs out and drawing further and further away to beat Maleficent by the best part of four lengths without being fully extended.
The handicappers promptly upped her 25 points to the same mark as Querari Falcon. True, she has a bad draw – and presumably this is why punters have allowed her to ease from 4-1 to 11-2 – but when you are riding as well as Lerena few things are impossible.
Favourites have won the last three, and five of the last six, so Querari Falcon should not be ignored at 33-10 even though she was beaten last time. “She was caught a little flat-footed,” Mike Azzie recalls. “Anthony moved very early on her, she pricked her ears and started loafing but I am very impressed with her at the moment.”
Sail has just over a length to find with the favourite on Thekwini running. “She was very immature then but she ran a cracking race,” remembers Dennis Drier. “She has run very well in her last two races but she has a **** draw.”
Final Judgement (12-1) won the Golden Slipper and was only a neck behind Sail in the Choice Carriers despite having to check approaching the final turn. “She fluffed her lines when she was drawn wide in the Thekwini,” says Glen Kotzen. “But she is very talented and her prep has been phenomenal.”
The money continues to come for the unbeaten Quick Brown Fox who was down to 5-1 joint second favourite with Sail in the sponsors’ book yesterday after opening at 8-1. She is untested over the trip and, despite her obvious ability, she looks short enough.
Maleficent has also been backed – 11-1 to 7-1 – but Safe Harbour has drifted disturbingly, easing from 10-1 to 15-1. Dawn Calling (12-1) and Choice Carriers fourth Smokey Affair (20-1) have place prospects, as does fellow 20-1 shot Red Light Girl who jumped a shadow in that race, while Just Sensual (16-1) is on a hat-trick but the rest are hard to fancy.
Legal Eagle finished like a train over a distance far too short for him in his first race for over six months at Turffontein three weeks ago so he should be able to make his class tell in the WSB Green Point Stakes. Captain America has been backed from 11-1 to 7-1, receives a kilo, is fit and comes from a very much in-form stable but the favourite should still win.
Red Ray has shown that he can run well after a lengthy lay off and is 4-1 favourite for the WSB Cape Merchants – or at least he was yesterday – but he faces a horrific task at the weights and it could pay to follow the money.
Search Party has been backed as if there is no tomorrow. He opened at 25-1 last weekend and at the time of writing was 6-1 second favourite. Corne Orffer is understandably keen on his chance and says he will have no trouble getting down to 52kg although his dieting method may be too drastic for many to even contemplate – “It’s simple. I’ve given up alcohol.”
By Michael Clower
The Listed Secretariat Stakes for three-year-olds over 1400m heads an eleven race meeting at Turffontein Standside on Saturday and it looks to be an intriguing race as it is run under handicap conditions.
Matador Man came to the racecourse with a big reputation for his debut and his first two losses, after slow starts, were initially disappointing. However, as the form unravelled it became apparent that the pair he lost to by just over two lengths in his second start over 1200m, Al Fahad and Doosra, were top class. He showed his class next time out, also over 1200m, when coming from off the pace to cruise to victory. The race also showed he will relish the step up to 1400m.
However, equally impressive was the run of Captain Von Trapp on debut. This horse has a giant stride and plenty of scope for improvement. On debut he had to overcome a wide draw over 1200m around the turn at the Vaal and he ran on to just get up and beat Ebony Knight. The latter franked the form by winning his next two starts. This time Captain Von Trapp has a good draw of three, two inside of Matador man, and he is also receiving 0,5kg from the latter. He might get a couple of lengths start too, because Matador Man was slow away yet again last time. These two are predicted to fight it out. Romi’s Boy is also a long striding sort and led from start to finish on his second start over 1160m, having finished a close second to Doosra on debut. Romi’s Boy will also relish the step up in trip, being by Querari out of a Montjeu mare, but a downside to his chances is he has to give 1kg and 1,5kg respectively to Matador man and Captain Von Trapp and he is also drawn just outside of them. Act Of Loyalty is progressing the right way and has a shout, although his wide draw is against him. Tilbury Fort is a fighter who runs all the way to the line and he runs from a plum draw with a light weight. He could be the dark horse.
In the ninth race, a Pinnacle Stakes race over 1400m, Champagne Haze returns to his best trip from a plum draw and will be hard to beat. He is only 1kg out at the weights with the best in. Captain Aldo runs over the course and distance for the first time since winning the Gr 2 Hawaii Stakes and having dropped to a mark of 99 he has happened to end up at the top of one of the merit rated bands here, so is officially the best weighted horse. He has a fair draw and should put in a bold display. Prospect Strike is full of class and thus could well be his ideal trip, so he could be the dark horse, despite returning from a six month layoff and being drawn wide. Will Pays has topweight, but keeps on defying the odds. However, this time will have to do it from draw 11. Mogok Master should be running on from pole position if allowed to settle off the pace.
The best bet on the card is Bush Pilot in the fifth race, a Mr 80 Handicap over 2000m. On pedigree and running style he should relish the course and distance. Furthermore, he might be running off a capped merit, as four-year-old maiden winners are not allowed to be rated higher than 70 and he is exactly on 70. In his second career start, on the Inside track over 1600m, he had a lot to do in the straight to fetch Charleston Hero. He eventually swept past the latter to win going away by 1,6 lengths and the rest of the field were spread out like the washing about six lengths and more back. The Standside 2000m will give him plenty of time to make up the ground this time under astute rider Chase Maujean and he has a good draw. Baracah is the danger for after coming down from a 102 merit rating to a 61, the key to him appears to have been unlocked, and he is on the way up again.
Polly Wolly Doodle caught the eye in a comeback from a layoff over a too sharp 1000m last time out and this long striding sort could win one of the trickiest races on the card, the seventh, which is a MR 63 Handicap for fillies and mare over 1600m. She has a plum draw and is ridden by in form Lyle Hewitson for astute trainer Candice Dawson.
The horse who won the aforementioned 1000m race, Wrecking Ball, looks to have some class and having not been disgraced against some of the best male sprinters around last time, she can win the tenth, a MR 84 Handicap for fillies and mares over 1000m, with topweight. Paree makes a lot of appeal here too as she might well relish the return to 1000m, having been a bit keen over further lately.
The meeting starts with the first Juvenile race of the season and as always Corne Spies is the man to watch in this 800m scurry. He has two runners, Laurent de Var and Kokachin, although another one who makes appeal on pedigree is the Tony Nassif-trained Snow Boarding.
By David Thiselton
Apprentice Eric Ngwane’s 1,5kg claim could be the difference between winning and losing for Velvet Wind, bottom of the handicap in the City Logistics FM 90 Handicap to be run at Greyville tonight.
Top weights Princess Varunya and Work Ethic have both been tested in feature race company but even though this is a handicap they have to give lumps of weight to Velvet Wind and they may not be up to the task.
Alistair Gordon’s filly has been in good form of late and under Ngwane was beaten a nostril by Playboy Buddy over 1900m on the poly last time out. Dean Kannemeyer’s filly also takes her place in today’s line-up but is 2,5kg worse off and in theory should not be able to turn the tables.
Playboy Buddy has since had another outing, finishing nearly three lengths adrift of the more than useful Lala which underpins Velvet Wind’s form.
Prior to that effort, Velvet Wind finished three lengths back to Crackpot on the Scottsville turf. She has plenty in her favour this evening and should be right up there when the whips are cracking.
Princess Varunya finished a neck behind Velvet Wind in the race won by Crackpot and Kom Naidoo’s filly meets her rival on similar weight terms. That was also her first outing since April and was almost certainly short of peak fitness. She followed up with another good showing in the Michaelmas Handicap behind Celtic Captain and with apprentice Serina Moodley claiming his 4kg from a plum draw Princess Varunya will have her supporters.
Gavin van Zyl saddles Work Ethic who has been up against some strong opposition on the Highveld and has returned home. She has finished behind the likes of Liege, Intergalatic and more recently the smart grey Girl On The Run and she should be much more competitive in this company.
Emperor Niarchos has been a soldier for Frank Robinson, placing in just under half of his 40 starts, and can add to his winning tally when he lines up in the Discovery Ventures Handicap, first leg of the jackpot. The six-year-old’s merit rating has been dropping steadily and in four recent outings has come down from 69 to 62. He should now be competitive off his new mark and a good draw and Anthony Delpech aboard adds to his appeal in an open race.
Unbelievable Chad appears to be finally producing his best and was a close-up third on the poly last time out. He was doing his best work late and the extra furlong should be right up his ally and Paul Lafferty’s runner is a must inclusion in all exotics.
Robinson was in the winner’s enclosure with Sounds Positive on Sunday and he has a chance of a double this evening as Even Tempo is the likely favourite for the Ketla Braai Maiden Plate, opening leg of the Pick 6.
The daughter of Elusive Fort has been well supported in the market in both starts and was not far behind Go With Flo last time out. Given her pedigree and a pole position draw she has a lot in her favour, including some moderate opposition. Night At The Proms and Crystal River look obvious dangers even though they appear moderate. Wahi had it all to do from a coffin draw at Scottsville at her last outing and is one that could make big improvement in a field of this calibre.
Of the balance of the card, Top Form will have his supporters in the Eagle Fire Control Handicap where Anton Marcus teams up with Charles Laird. The gelding came back well from a three-month break when second to smart stable companion Buffalo Soldier and followed up with another forward showing behind the more than useful Beat The Retreat. He takes a slight drop in class but will need to be at his peak to get the measure of Peter Piper. Dennis Bosch’s charge is also having his third outing after a break and takes a major drop in class. He finished three lengths back to Redcarpet Captain last time out and a repeat showing should see him close.
Apprentice Ashton Arries is being well supported by champion trainer Sean Tarry and the youngster gets another chance to show his worth on Super Guppy in the eighth. The mare made a sudden return to form last time out and with only 48kg on her back must have a strong chance in what looks to be another open affair.
By all accounts, Catherine Of Aragon was no great Spanish beauty but did survive Henry’s axe. Hopefully her namesake with see punters through the final leg of the Pick 6 where Alistair Gordon’s filly can go one better after two close-up seconds on the poly.
By Andrew Harrison
Vaal (Outside) Thur 01 Dec Race Previews by David Thiselton
Preview: VIP is drawn on the right side by trends and has not been disgraced behind three fair sorts to date. BI POT is drawn on the wrong side but on debut over 1200m lost ground before finding a strong finish so he might be dropped out here enabling him to find the better going before running on again. ORDAINED has run a cracker over 1200m before and should enjoy this trip. BLUEBERRY PIE has run two fair races over 1200m and will relish the step up in trip. CAPRICIOUS was 0,9 lengths behind VIP over this trip last time and has the champion workrider aboard. (David Thiselton 7-9-15-10-1)
Preview: ALAADEL lost over two lengths on debut over this trip, but only just failed after finding a strong finish. He has a tricky draw but has Gavin Lerena up and this combination will likely prove too strong for an uninspiring field. STARPATH is by Pathfork out of a maiden mare by Diesis, whose best progeny has been the useful stayer Alexander. KINGS LANDING is capable of a strong finish, but has a tricky draw. He could earn if able to get across behind them into the better going. (David Thiselton 8-10-2)
Preview: MADE TO CONQUER is by Dynasty out of SA Oaks winner Festive Occasion, who has produced the Gr 1 Woolavington 2000 winner Do You Remember. ASTRA ASTRAPI is by Fastnet Rock out of a Sadler’s Wells mare and would not have to be any great shakes to beat this field. REBEL BARON did quite well last time over 1200m, when running on from a tough draw despite the saddle slipping, and he should enjoy the step up in trip. ABRANCHES ran a good race over 1600m at the Vaal in his penultimate start and could earn from a good draw. PROSPERITY could improve on two fair runs over 1200m and was just 0,75 lengths behind the fast finishing Rebel Baron last time. (David Thiselton 11-9-12-3-14)
Preview: JAMESON GIRL has run two crackers over this trip and has another plum draw with Gavin Lerena up, so she is the one to beat especially considering her form has been franked. GUNSHIP made a fair debut and has a favourable draw. BLAZING BERRY showed pace last time over 1200m with blinkers and a tongue tie on and might appreciate the step down in trip. (David Thiselton 14-13-5)
Preview: SAMURAI BLADE will be too strong here, although the race comes just five days after his participation in the Summer Cup. SHARP PRINCESS returns from a long layoff and faces the boys but is distance suited and second best in at the weights. PAGODA was extending when winning his maiden over this trip last time and the form has been franked. KONCEALED would prefer a touch further but could earn. KAHULA drops has not been disgraced twice behind Cape Fillies Guineas favourite Querari Falcon over this trip so will appreciate the step back down in trip. (David Thiselton 1-7-4-3-8)
Preview: INANINSTANT has always struck as having some class and can win this from a fair draw if bouncing back from her disappointing last run when found to be not striding out. ANGELIC APPEAL beat Inaninstant by two lengths when they met in penultimate start over 1800m and she is now 2kg worse off which puts them just about together. SISTERS OF MERCY usually makes a breathing noise so might appreciate coming down to this trip and has a plum draw off a merit rating three points lower than her last winning mark. NOTHER RUSSIA is well bred and has shown class and although this is her first run since March she is from the De Kock yard so should be fit enough. READYFORYOURLOVE has the form to be a contender, but does have a tough draw to overcome. (David Thiselton 2-1-7-4-10)
Preview: POST GRAD returns to the trip of his last win having run well over 1800m last time and Gavin Lerena, who rode him in his last win, returns to the saddle. DAWN ASSAULT, who is off a competitive merit rating, has not been disgraced lately over further so is interesting with blinkers on dropped back to a trip over which he has hard knocking form. BLUE DIAMOND ROAD has good form over this trip and has a plum draw. WOODY GLOW can’t be ignored from a good draw although he hasn’t run since August. SAMMY SILVER won well when blinkers were refitted last time and he is effectively only four points higher in the merit ratings, as he was 0,5kg under sufferance in that last race, and has another plum draw. (David Thiselton 2-1-3-13-14)
Preview: AQUABOY has a plum draw and if reproducing his penultimate start from a wide draw at Turffontein this front-running sort will have a big chance. STARRET CITY is one of a number of talented ex Neil Bruss-trained horses which have moved up to the Highveld and are returning from rests and he could be involved here from a plum draw over a trip short of his best running fresh. NIGHT RAIDER had the fastest 400m to finish time from a tricky draw last time over this trip on the Vaal Classic track and from a plum draw here and off a five point lowered merit rating must be a big runner because coming from the Sean Tarry yard he should be fit enough despite not having raced since June. (David Thiselton 5-1-14)
Preview: THEWAYWEMAYKEM will appreciate the step up in trip and from a plum draw off a merit rating lowered another four points should be thereabouts. FLAG OF FRANCE is down to a competitive merit rating and is drawn well over a suitable trip. DAWNBREAKER won from a plum draw on debut over this trip and although he now has a tough draw the form has been franked and he starts off on a reasonable merit rating with Gavin Lerena staying aboard. (David Thiselton 6-4-2)
Preview: LA ROQUETTE is an imposing filly who won hands and heels on debut by 3,3 lengths, so her merit rating of 76 looks reasonable and she can follow up. SCHWANKY has been knocking on the door and has a plum draw over an ideal trip. CHARTWELL has always struck as one with ability and from a plum draw can go close over a suitable trip. (David Thiselton 5-1-6)
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