Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Jockey Gavin Lerena can expect a message on social media from pupils at Tembisa Star Schools Centre on the first of  November. It will probably say “Get a good night's sleep — you’ve got to ride for your life tomorrow.”

At Turffontein on November 2, it is the 2019 running of the Emperors Palace Charity Mile and — at the draw at the Kempton Park Casino Resort on Wednesday — the Tembisa school was coupled with the race favourite Buffalo Bill Cody.

“That’s a great draw for them,” said Peermont Emperors Palace COO Bob Yearham, who has been instrumental in the prize money for the grade 2 race being raised to R1m.

Buffalo Bill Cody, one of four runners from the Mike de Kock stable, did not draw as well as stablemates Barahin and Cascapedia. They drew barriers four and five respectively.

De Kock decided to take out his star performer Soqrat who would have to have shouldered 63kg. It looks a wise move and he still has the strongest hand in the race.

Both Zillzaal, trained by Sean Tarry and the mount of Piere Strydom, and Infamous Fox, trained by Candice Dawson and to be ridden by MJ Byleveld, will both jump from favourable draws.

If you are fancying an early wager in a race Emperors Palace has backed for 14 years, it might pay to place an each-way bet on Tarry’s runner In The Dance. The choicely bred filly won well last time out and looks on the upgrade.

Jockey Callan Murray has a busy time ahead. On November 2 he will be hoping to boot home the winner of the Charity Mile and — a fortnight later — he will be in the six-member SA team in the International Challenge at Turffontein.

Murray held a licence to ride in Singapore until December, but due to lack of opportunities in the city-state he decided to return here in August.

This was good news for the De Kock stable as he rode many winners for them before his departure.

At the Vaal on Thursday, Murray rides Milford Sound for the yard in the second race, but the filly will need to improve on a moderate debut at Greyville in August.

Probably the pick of Murray’s four rides at the Free State track is Littlewood who takes on 10 rivals in the fifth race over 1,800m. Trained at the track by Lucky Houdalakis, the Fort Wood mare ran second behind stablemate Wordyness last time out and can go one better this time.

Alec Laird has his string in good form and his runner Circle Of Latitude may pose the main threat to Littlewood. S’manga Khumalo won on the mare at Turffontein in September and will be in the saddle again on Thursday.

Khumalo has eight booked rides at the meeting and also has an each-way chance on Crown Guardian in the sixth. This is a competitive event, but it is interesting that the son of Gimmethegreenlight reverts to the minimum trip.

Vaal Selections

1st Race: (2) Varnica (3) Sapphire Rock (1) Stormy Weathers (12) Orchid Express

2nd Race: (2) Flower Season (1) Flaming Opal (12) Fluorescent (4) Super Duper

3rd Race: (9) Sabbatical (3) Nordic Rebel (4) Ragoon (7) Throng

4th Race: (1) Heart Stwings (3) Piccadilly Square (4) Big Myth (6) Itsmydarlin

5th Race: (8) Littlewood (4) Circle Of Latitude (2) Illuminate (7) Jolly Josephine

6th Race: (5) Ring Of Fire (2) Topmast (4) Invidia (1) Scoop

7th Race: (4) In Full Bloom (1) Rosalina (6) Nordic Queen (5) The Great Queen

8th Race: (1) Stone Judgement (3) Golden Tune (2) Fire To The Rein (10) Whipping Boy