The first Work Riders Series of 2019 draws to a close at Turffontein on Saturday and Joe Gwingwizha holds a slender lead over Charles Ndlovu.

There are horseplayers who shy away from races for work riders due to the relative inexperience of the guys in the saddle but veteran horseman James Maree, who coaches work riders at his estate near Eikenhof, had some advice this week.

Maree noted: “The top four or five work riders have been riding in races every few weeks for the last 10 years. I’m talking about Gwingwizha, Ndlovu, Chamu Mabaya and Sam Mosia. They are good jockeys in their own right and I reckon if you want to have a bet on them, you can bet with confidence.

“All the other work riders are taught and corrected a few times per week, they are all capable. There are some who try to get ahead of their horses, they need to learn some patience, but we work on this aspect in every coaching session,” he said.

Even the established work riders are given refresher riding courses when needed. 

Maree said: “They are closely monitored in every contest, we make notes and we work on their skills.”

The standard of entries is perhaps a notch below what you will find at a bread-and-butter midweek meeting at the Vaal, but there are some outstanding betting prospects on exposed form.

Gwingwizha’s mount Pidgeon Rock has not raced since his eye-catching second place finish to Good Emperor in July 2018, but trainer Sean Tarry gets them well fit after a break and the log-leading rider could extend his advantage in race 2 over 1,000m.

Ndlovu has a big chance on The Russian Sailor in race 3 over 1,160m. Grant Maroun’s runner made marked improvement racing in pacifiers last time and will have them fitted again, so could post his first career win.

Three Dog Night has the best form in race 7 over 2,000m and he could be a tonic for trainer Weiho Marwing, who lost his grade1 Derby winner Samurai Warrior to a heart attack recently. Sam Mosia will be doing the riding duties.

Turffontein selections

Race 1: (10) Winter Haze (1) Miss Samurai (2) Desert Kitten (4) Kindavar

Race 2: (10) Pidgeon Rock (1) Bold Matador (3) Country Squire (2) Birthday Boy

Race 3: (3) The Russian Sailor (1) Baron Rodney (4) Written In Stone (2) Marshall Foch

Race 4: (2) Caftan (5) Wilkes County (3) Kayla’s Edge (1) Glitter Path

Race 5: (1) Flapjack (6) Uncle Tom (2) Category Four (5) Cinnabon

Race 6: (4) Three Dog Night (1) Shy The Dragon (3) Byron Bay 5) Jet Power

Race 7: (1) Shezahotti (3) Merengue (7) Await The Dawn (9) Arabian Sunrise

Race 8: (1) Brittania Queen (6) Royal Future (7) Midnight Top (13) Rose D’Ore