Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Mardi Gras, named after the famous New Orleans carnival, has changed hands for a rumoured R500,000 and the three-year-old has his first run for his new connections at the Vaal on Thursday.

Purchased by Mayfair Speculators for R3.2m as a yearling, Mardi Gras opened his account for trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren at the Free State course three weeks ago and returns to the same venue on Thursday.

Randall Simons partnered the son of Oratorio to his maiden win, but Gavin Lerena is entrusted with the ride in Thursday’s eighth race.

Although he is likely to be sent off favourite, this 1,200m contest will be no walk in the park for Mardi Gras as his rivals include lightly raced Torcedor, Boatswain and Mike de Kock’s Aussie import Mohallela.

Torcedor, a son of Toreador trained by Sean Tarry, won by five lengths on his second start and receives 2kg from Lerena’s mount on Thursday, with Lyle Hewitson in the saddle.

Leading jockey Anthony Delpech has five rides for the De Kock stable at the meeting and Mohallela, a daughter of Exceed And Excel, probably needed the run when finishing sixth behind Lawdy Miss Clawdy on her most recent outing. The filly could well trouble both Mardi Gras and Torcedor.

Another Aussie import, Boatswain, has each-way claims under his regular pilot, Muzi Yeni. The son of Poet’s Voice should appreciate stepping up to 1,200m.

Fabian Habib, who has just been granted his trainer’s licence, saddles Wild Curve and there was plenty to like about the three-year-old’s recent third behind Premier Show.

There is an interesting all-Aussie clash in the opening event, with Delpech riding Quick Glimpse for the De Kock yard and Lerena partnering Dreamsaremadeof for the Van Vuuren stable.

There is likely to be precious little between the pair at the line and with owner Laurence Wernars enjoying a purple patch his colours might win the day for Van Vuuren.

My Favourite Brown, stablemate of Dreamsaremadeof, did this column a good turn last time out and the five-year-old looks another good mount for Lerena in the first leg of the jackpot.

Dreamsaremadeof has more on his plate this time with the Azzie stable represented by The Rocketman, who has won three of his last four starts.

Others with claims in a wide open handicap are the hat-trick seeking Walter Smoothie and Alec Laird’s runner Malinga.

Walter Smoothie hails from the stable of Stuart Pettigrew, who will be hoping his star performer Surcharge can win April’s SA Classic, the second leg of the Triple Crown.

With Wottahottie battling to find the No1 box, the principals in the seventh race look to be Brett Webber’s colt In The Game and Tarry’s five-year-old gelding Pachuco.

Neither is going to Holly-wood so an upset is a possibility, with Private Ruler the pick of the outsiders.

Trainer Grant Maroun saddles four runners in the final leg of the Pick6 and the pick should be his consistent three-year-old, Great Shaka. The son of Great Britain has a win and three seconds as his formline in his past four appearances. Nevertheless, another of Lerena’s rides, Pillaroftheearth, makes some appeal here along with Great Shaka’s stablemate Shifting Shadows, who has turned in three good efforts since winning his maiden race at Turffontein in December.