Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS
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Racing fans can be forgiven for thinking that a sprint feature race has been added to the 10-race programme at the Vaal on Thursday.

The field for the ninth race only carries a winner’s purse of R85,000, but it has attracted four talented speed merchants in Pinnacle Peak, Mardi Gras, Exquisite Touch and the promising three year-old filly, All At Once.

As this 1,200m event is a Pinnacle Stakes, it should favour the horse with the highest merit-rating, which is Pinnacle Peak whose figure is 115.

However, All At Once’s rating is 100 so — in receipt of 8.5kg — trainer Lucky Houdalakis’s filly is a kilogram well in and should go well in the hands of Karl Zechner.

Pinnacle Peak’s four wins have earned his owner John Finlayson just shy of R800,000 in prize money and the Querari gelding should add to that total on Thursday. There was lots to like about the four-year-old’s win at Turffontein in January.

Mardi Gras, who beat All At Once in November, has won two of his past three starts and will have plenty of supporters. He will be ridden by Randall Simons who is the fifth different jockey to partner the grey this term.

Of the remainder, Exquisite Touch’s stablemate, Carbon Atom, has place claims. In fact, the right way to bet on the race may be to place All At Once in the trifecta with Pinnacle Peak, Mardi Gras, Exquisite Touch and Carbon Atom. This bet will cost R36.

The first leg of the jackpot could be won by a horse named Jackpot Jewel. Trained by Erico Verdonese, who had a winner at Turffontein last week, this Judpot gelding should be cherryripe after finishing a close fourth in his first two outings.

Warren Kennedy, who rides the three-year-old for the third time, can expect challenges from Gavin Lerena on Paddy’s Legacy and Craig Zackey on I Am Batman.

Surprisingly, Lerena has only four mounts on the 10-race card, but one of them is the newcomer, Fired Up, who will need a market check in the first leg of the Pick 6. This son of Rock Of Gibraltar is trained by Mike de Kock.

De Kock saddles another first-timer in this event in the Dynasty gelding, Hit For Six, a topical tip after the Proteas demolition in Port Elizabeth, and this well-related three-year-old will be ridden by Diego De Gouveia.

Young apprentice Kabelo Matsunyane is enjoying a successful season and he scored on Clinton Binda’s sprinter Whorly Whorly at Turffontein 11 days ago. The same horse has a chance of following up in the eighth race although this is a competitive handicap in which chances can be given to Scoop, Boatswain and former grade 1 winner Talktothestars.

The recent demise of Soft Falling Rain was a blow to the SA bloodstock industry so his progeny will be closely scrutinised when they make their debuts. De Kock introduces one of his daughters Mawsool in the first race, which mainly consists of juveniles making their racecourse bow.

One runner who has been in action is the Scott Bros-bred youngster League Of Her Own and the filly has won two of her three outings for trainer Stephanus Botha.

The second race is a Work Riders event over 1,000m that should chiefly concern Upskilled (Charles Ndlovu), Sparkling Gold (Siyabulela Eighteen) and Sea Of Roses (Phillip Mlangeni). The first-named looks a worthy favourite.

SELECTIONS

1st Race: No Selection

2nd Race: (1) Upskilled (3) Sparkling Gold (4) Sea Of Roses (8) Senorita Amor

3rd Race: (3) Saint Michael (1) Pearl Of Siberia (9) Bold Matador (13) Splat The Cat

4th Race: (12) Fired Up (13) Hit For Six (1) Excellent Al (10) Barista

5th Race: (11) Jackpot Jewel (13) Paddy's Legacy (10) I Am Batman (3) Tintagel

6th Race: (4) Warrior's Rest (5) Morning Catch (2) Danza (7) Dan The Lad

7th Race: (2) Merengue (1) Shezahotti (3) My Elusive (6) One Dollar Massage

8th Race: (3) Whorly Whorly (6) Scoop (5) Talktothestars (4) Oravar

9th Race: (10) All At Once (1) Pinnacle Peak (7) Mardi Gras (4) Exquisite Touch

10th Race: (1) Mount Keith (4) Bockscar (3) Sporting Monarch (2) Winter Storm