Racing returns to the Vaal on Thursday and two runners, Mardi Gras and Railtrip, will be out to show they are in good shape ahead of big races.

Mardi Gras, trained by Johan van Vuuren and the mount of Gavin Lerena, is favourite for the World Sports Betting Heritage Handicap at Thursday’s venue on October 13. This is the grey’s second run after a rest and he is likely to be too classy for his rivals in the second race.

Railtrip, trained by Chesney van Zyl and to be ridden by Keagan De Melo, has her first outing of the season when she takes on nine rivals in the third race. The daughter of Trippi heads the log for the R500,000 Emperors Palace Ready-To-Run Cup scheduled for Turffontein on November 3.

The Summerhill-bred filly has a merit rating of 100 for that race ahead of Chijmes (87), who is named after a Singapore bar, The Sash (85), Patrol Officer (83) and Checkpoint Charlie (83).

If Mardi Gras needs his second run back after a break, the runner who may take advantage is Lucky Houdalakis’s Pathfork gelding Mr Flood. He was thought good enough to run in last season’s SA Nursery and was probably in need of the outing when fourth behind Prince Of Kahal a month ago.

Illegal substances

It has not been a good week for trainer Paul Peter, with the National Horseracing Authority fining him R80,000 following an inquiry into illegal substances, but he will be hoping for a forward effort from his three-year-old, Inexhaustible, who boasts a win and a second in his two starts.

Captain And Master is a year older than Mr Flood and Inexhaustible, and Sean Tarry’s representative will be closely monitored on his first appearance since running second in the CTS 1,600 at Kenilworth in January. Thursday’s 1,200m trip may be too short for the Captain Al colt.

Tarry’s Gimmethegreenlight filly Anneka also returns from a break and in the third race meets Railtrip on level terms. Possibly the right horse for the swinger with Van Zyl’s filly could be Vivir, who has had two good outings this season.

Vivir, a daughter of Philanthropist, will be ridden by Luke Ferraris. This filly will have a special place in the youngster’s heart as she provided him with his first winner when beating Railtrip over Thursday’s course and distance in April.

Peter saddles the Toreador filly Ouro who makes her seasonal bow with Muzi Yeni. The four-year-old has top-weight of 60kg.

Aeronautical, a son of Captain Al trained by Mike and Adam Azzie, tries 2,000m for the first time in the seventh race and will be tough to beat if staying the trip. The four-year-old should go well in the hands of Francois Herholdt.

Another son of Captain Al, Blame Game, rates the main threat to Aeronautical as this R550,000 buy ran on well in the closing stages when finishing sixth on his debut at Turffontein in August.

Tarry has booked Ferraris for the ride.

Trainer Chris Erasmus will be delighted with what his four-year-old Come The Day has achieved in 2018 and the son of Await The Dawn bids to make it five wins from his past six starts when he lines up against seven opponents in the sixth race.

Several runners can be given chances in this 2,000m handicap and Odd Rob — a kilogram better off with Come The Day — may be able to notch the fourth win of his career.

Another runner worth including in exotic bets is four-year-old American Indian.

The Var colt Vardo returns to action in the opening event and the market will be the best guide to the chance of Candice Dawson’s runner. The same applies to Trappings, who makes his debut for Houdalakis’ yard.

Of the runners that have raced, Hartleyfour and Red Tara make some appeal. Both are by the stallion Eightfold Path, and Hartleyfour should be involved in the finish with trainer Tobie Spies’s Visionaire gelding Pieces Of Gold.