Horse Racing Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, Britain - March 14, 2019. Picture: REUTERS / PAUL CHILDS
Horse Racing Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, Britain - March 14, 2019. Picture: REUTERS / PAUL CHILDS

The passing of the stallion Soft Falling Rain in September 2018 was a blow to the country’s bloodstock industry. He was only nine at the time of his death at Wilgerbosdrift Stud.

Strangely, the cause of death of Mike de Kock’s former champion does not appear in any website stories on his passing so we are unsure if it was due to injury or illness.

Soft Falling Rain, a son of National Assembly, enjoyed a magnificent career and won eight races — four as a two-year-old. He was voted Equus champion two-year-old in 2011-12 and champion three-year-old miler in the UAE in 2012-13.

In his short time at stud, Soft Falling Rain’s progeny were popular at bloodstock sales and it is possible he could be responsible for two winners at the Vaal on Thursday.

If his impressive debut win in November is any guide, the stallion’s son Garden Party may have been a shrewd buy by owner Colin Govindasamy for R200,000. The colt won the 800m dash by nearly three lengths.

On Thursday Garden Party returns to action and he will be a warm order to win the third race over 1,000m. He has to concede weight to a number of newcomers that include another of Soft Falling Rain’s progeny, Stone Cold.

Slalom Queen, a R300,000 daughter of Querari bred at Lammerskraal Stud, is another well-bred first-timer and the betting market needs to be closely monitored.

Just 30 minutes later, Soft Falling Rain has a chance of another winner with his daughter Makara likely to start favourite. As this inmate of Sean Tarry’s stable has been placed in each of her five starts, she is due a visit to the No 1 box.

A worry for Tarry is that De Kock introduces a well-bred daughter of Captain Al in this 1,200m sprint. Her name is Potency and the three-year-old is a half-sister to the seven-time winner Lazer Star.

As this season’s leading rider, Warren Kennedy, has been booked for Potency this is another case in which the betting market will be informative.

The seventh race on the Vaal card looks particularly competitive and a chance is taken with Paul Matchett’s three-year-old War Jewel. The gelding raced in a 94 merit-rated handicap last time, but on Thursday drops to 79-rated company and should make a bold bid for his second win.

War Jewel’s opposition includes Tarry’s four-year-old River Jordan with the son of Skitt Skizzle chasing a hat-trick after wins at the Vaal and Turffontein. Five-year-old Norland also brings consistent form into this race.

Roy Magner’s filly The Fifth Wave found the current too strong in the recent Swallow Stakes so will appreciate the drop in class for Thursday’s fifth race. Piere Strydom is an eye-catching booking for the daughter of Crusade.

Kennedy should not be far away on David Nieuwenhuizen’s runner Glowtoria, while trainer Ashley Fortune’s lightly raced filly Encryption merits consideration for jackpot and Pick Six perms.

SELECTIONS

First race: (10) Bergerac (13) Putins Promise (3) Bassam (14) Quattro Passi

Second race: (3) Ecstatic Green (4) Elusive Woman (9) Springs Of Carmel (6) Great Stratz

Third race: (1) Garden Party (10) Slalom Queen (7) Stone Cold (11) Sultan's Daughter

Fourth race: (1) Makara (15) Potency (16) Western Vision (4) Roman Royalty

Fifth race: (2) The Fifth Wave (7) Malteza (5) Glowtoria (11) Encryption

Sixth race: (2) Old Man Tyme (3) Rock Of Africa (7) Oden (9) Tokyo Drift

Seventh race: (7) War Jewel (5) River Jordan (3) Norland (6) Written In Stone

Eighth race: (2) Duke’s Game (1) Crank It Up (11) Our Biscuit (5) Red Admiral