Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

To say nerves are jangling at Heversham Park Stud in Gauteng ahead of Saturday’s Dubai World Cup is perhaps the understatement of the year.

No, SA does not have a runner in the $12m race, but the stud owns the dam of North America, who is second favourite to land the big prize at Meydan Racecourse.

The mare Heversham own is named Northern Mischief and is currently housed in Ireland and victory for North America would be a  huge boost for her broodmare standing.

“We acquired her cheaply just before North America won his first race, she’s had a colt by Dandy Man, is in foal to Ballydoyle stallion Churchill and is booked to visit Acclamation,” said Heversham’s owner Nigel Riley on Wednesday.

“I am toying with the idea of catching a plane to Dubai to watch the race, but if that doesn’t happen we’ll be glued to the TV,” he said.

Race coverage

Racing channel Tellytrack has announced  it will be screening all nine races from Dubai.

Riley — a leading advocate in Johannesburg  — and his partner, Fred Brons, are determined to bury the myth that the only provinces to breed horses in SA are the Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. They want to re-establish Gauteng as a thoroughbred bloodstock breeding hub.

Heversham held a party for prospective buyers at the stud — situated halfway between Johannesburg and Vereeniging — last Saturday where their two stallions, Moofeed and Wings Of Desire, were paraded. The latter was a top performer in the UK, winning the Dante Stakes at York and finishing fourth in the Investec Derby.

The 3-1 favourite for Saturday’s Dubai World Cup is 2018’s winner, Thunder Snow, who is trained by Saeed bin Suroor. However, North America, last in 2018’s race when something went amiss, has emerged as a big threat this time with the son of Dubawi winning two rounds of the grade 2 Maktoum Challenge.

North America started his career with UK trainer Charlie Appleby for whom he had six starts, but he has flourished since moving to Dubai to join trainer Satish Seemar.

SA trainer Mike de Kock will saddle three runners at the Dubai meeting — Yulong Prince (formerly Surcharge), Majestic Mambo and Durban July winner Marinaresco. Of the trio, Majestic Mambo could place in the 1,800m Dubai Turf, which carries a purse of $6m.

Following his four-timer at the Vaal on Tuesday, jockey Gavin Lerena will be the jockey punters want to follow at Thursday’s nine-race programme at the same track.

Lerena has seven booked rides and the pick could be Palace Chapel who does duty for Paul Peter’s stable in the fifth race. The son of Potala Palace is enjoying a successful season and can beat home Life Is Good and Whorly Whorly.

Life Is Good is owned and bred by bloodstock expert Robin Bruss, whose colours were carried to success in the first race on Tuesday. His Var gelding could be a good exact a bet with Palace Chapel.

Although Lerena does not get many rides for top trainer Sean Tarry, he won on the stable’s three-year-old, Palace Green, at Turffontein recently and retains the ride on the colt in today’s seventh race.

One runner who could trouble Palace Green is another Peter inmate, Two Of Us, who returns to a low handicap after finishing sixth in the Derby Trial.

SELECTIONS

1st Race: (2) Merengue (1) My Elusive (8) Plum Field (3) Cape Ash

2nd Race: (17) Tree Tumbo (12) Rock Manor (8) Lighthearted (14) Syx Shooter

3rd Race: (1) Country Squire (4) Tequila Man (8) Lion King (9) Tongue Twister

4th Race: (16) Varquera (10) Glacier Girl (1) Boundless Deep (3) Captains Love

5th Race: (5) Palace Chapel (9) Life Is Good (6) Whorly Whorly (8) Torre Del Oro

6th Race: (7) Africa’s Gold (2) Mighty And Magic (1) Master And Man (5) Kings Cup

7th Race: (1) Palace Green (7) Two Of Us (6) Rabia The Rebel (4) Horace

8th Race: (6) Rustling Leaf (1) Perfect Tigress (3) Bonfilia (8) Generoso

9th Race: (5) I Am Batman (8) Corrido (1) Toastmaster (6) Manitoba