Horse Race Picture: ISTOCK
Horse Race Picture: ISTOCK

With the engagement of Cape-based jockey Richard Fourie for five races on Saturday, trainer St John Gray hopes to increase his odds in the R500,000-a-piece seventh and eighth races.

Trainer St John Gray's decision to engage Cape-based jockey Richard Fourie for five rides at Turffontein on Saturday  could reap rewards, with both Strawberry Pavlova and Lake Kinneret serious runners in two of the World Sports Betting Grand Series races.

With the meeting switched from the Vaal to Turffontein, the seventh and eighth races form the two legs of the Grand Series with a gross purse of R500,000 for each race.

With the winning owner receiving R296,800, Gray will have gladly paid Fourie's airfare as the 32-year-old has been in hot form recently and is very much in the mix for his first jockeys title. At present he is in third place in the national log behind Muzi Yeni.

Fourie's mount in the seventh race is the Kahal gelding Lake Kinneret, who has a favourable draw and low weight of 52.5kg. In five of his races this year, the gelding has carried either 59.5kg or 60kg.

There are a whole host of rivals with strong claims in this 1,475m event, notably Soldier On, Sail For Joy, Hakeem and seven year-old Chepardo. Jockey Ryan Munger has built a good association with Sail For Joy and Fabian Habib's runner is expected to take a hand in the finish.

Mike de Kock's Aussie import, Hakeem, will strip fitter following his recent third behind Prince Of Kahal, but jockey Randall Simons will have to overcome a shocking draw.

Soldier On, trained by Stuart Pettigrew, has enjoyed a successful year with two wins in his past five outings and he'll sport blinkers in  Saturday's race, for which he is one of the leading fancies in the sponsor's ante-post market.

Surprisingly, Fourie doesn't have a ride in the eighth race — the second leg of the Grand Series — and here Gavin Lerena's mount, Mardi Gras, will be the choice of many punters in his third run after a break. The grey son of Oratorio looks destined for a successful season whatever his fate tomorrow.

Nevertheless, finding a horse in a big race that can run well at big odds is the aim of many pundits and the surprise package could be Sean Tarry's charge, Pilou, who is quoted at 25-1 in latest betting.

The two-week delay in running this meeting — due to unsafe ground at the Vaal — has played into Tarry's  hands as he's had more time to prepare Pilou, who only had his first start of the new season three weeks ago. If he can reproduce the form that saw him finish second behind stablemate Tilbury Fort in March, then the son of Western Winter will be a serious contender.

Geoff Woodruff's five-year-old Zouaves was well backed to win last year's Grand Heritage and jockey Chase Maujean will have the luxury of jumping from stall three. Whether he can give 4.5kg to Mardi Gras remains to be seen.

Yeni's mount, Full Of Attitude, will have his supporters and Lucky Houadalakis's Aussie-bred gelding, Huyssteen, is worth including in quartet bets.

Perhaps Fourie's best chance of returning home with a winner rests with Strawberry Pavlova, who runs in the sixth race, the Grand Series Consolation. There was lots to like about the filly's recent course win, for which she escapes a penalty as it was an Assessment Plate.

Victory for either Strawberry Pavlova or Lake Kinneret would keep Gray's stable on a roll as he captured last weekend's Joburg Spring Handicap with his old stalwart, Captain Aldo.

Gray introduces a newcomer in Paused, a son of Announce, in the second race, where another Lerena mount, Epic Dream, is expected to go close for Candice Dawson's in-form yard.

However, the market needs a check as Tarry sends out the first-timer African Daisy, a daughter of former champion sire Captain Al. The filly will sport the colours of Irish magnate John Magnier.


1st Race: (2) Dance Dance (10) Isle De France (12) Miss Jagger (11) It Takes Two

2nd Race: (1) Epic Dream (14) African Daisy (2) Eureka Effect (13) Turf Master

3rd Race: (5) Insignis (3) Being Fabulous (8) Only To Win (4) Chariot Of Gold

4th Race: (6) Carbon Atom (1) Social Order (3) Rule The Night (2) Silver God

5th Race: (2) Chitengo (6) Itsmydarlin (1) Barbie Doll (9) Gold Shades

6th Race: (9) Strawberry Pavlova (10) Flying Winger (4) Just As I Said (14) Gimme Hope Johanna

7th Race: (12) Lake Kinneret (9) Sail For Joy (8) Hakeem (6) Soldier On

8th Race: (6) Pilou (5) Mardi Gras (2) Zouaves (10) Huyssteen

9th Race: (4) Goede Hoop (5) Santa Vittoria (3) Littlewood (8) Glamorous Scandal

10th Race: (9) Mutribi (8) Bosphorus (11) Judd's Rocket (13) Daytona Charger