Mike de Kock’s unbeaten Aussie colt Mustaaqeem makes his seasonal bow at the Vaal on Thursday and is sure to start a hot favourite to maintain his unbeaten record.
Winner of his two starts last season, including the SA Nursery, Mustaaqeem is a son of the king of Australian sires, Redoute’s Choice.
Callan Murray has ridden Mustaaqeem to his two wins and will be in the saddle again in Thursday’s fifth race over 1,200m. It is impossible to envisage defeat for Murray’s mount, but the horse who might follow the favourite home is another unbeaten three-year-old, Gimmethenight.
Trained by Weiho Marwing, Gimmethenight attracted little support on his debut at Turffontein in November but finished well to win by a length. Keagan De Melo rides Pera Palace for trainer Paul Peter in this race and the gelding, who defeated Brave Mary in 2017, can also earn a place cheque.
De Melo has a winning chance in the eighth race in which he partners Cedrus Libani for trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren. The gelding’s two successes have come over Thursday’s course and distance.
Others with chances in this 1,200m handicap include Little Magician, Lake Kinneret and top weight Premier Show.
Although there are several newcomers in the first leg of the Pick 6, the three form horses are Nautic Spirit, Get Your Grove On and Ensemble.
Also bred in Australia, Nautic Spirit improved markedly on a poor second run when finishing second behind Saragon on her most recent start.
Get Your Grove On has turned in three fair performances and this inmate of Marwing’s stable will sport blinkers for the first time.
Ensemble, a daughter of Oratorio trained by Candice Dawson, needed her comeback run and will strip a fitter horse this time.