The picture for the forthcoming Chris Gerber Summer Cup will become a lot clearer after several candidates for the R2m race run in Saturday's grade 3 Victory Moon Stakes at the Vaal.
Here are some of Saturday’s field with questions to answer.
Soqrat: Top-class grade 1 colt from Mike de Kock’s stable and likely to start favourite despite carrying top weight of 62kg. The eight-times champion trainer has stated he will make a call on the Summer Cup depending on how he runs on Saturday. There is the worry that the Cup distance of 2,000m is a touch too far for the four-year-old.
Green Haze: Highly regarded by his trainer Alec Laird and set to receive 11kg from Soqrat. Won his last start by five lengths, but before that had finished fifth behind Astrix in a graduation plate. This is much tougher though jockey Muzi Yeni is a plus.
Al Mutawakel: Lightly raced and well-bred colt from Sean Tarry’s stable who has been nibbled at in the ante-post market on the Cup. Won his three starts last term and the champion trainer would not have entered him in this grade 3 race if he was not confident of a decent run. Also receives 11kg from Soqrat.
Roy Had Enough: Durban-trained Aussie import who ran less than three lengths behind Do It Again in the Vodacom July. Piere Strydom will want to strike back after a nightmare Charity Mile meeting so not easily discounted.
Seville Orange: Won Gold Circle Oaks at Scottsville in June, but no show in her two outings this term. Tough ask as one of only two females in the race, but could be the joker in the pack in her third run after a rest.
So it is an intriguing race in which the boxed exacta of Al Mutawakel, Soqrat and Green Haze may be the safest way to bet. The top vote goes to the first-named who can put his hat in the ring for the Summer Cup with a good performance.
In the supporting feature, the Gardenia Stakes, trainer Corné Spies has a strong hand with two speedy fillies Singforafa and True Charm.
Singforafa goes well for her regular pilot Craig Zackey and there was lots to like about the filly’s latest effort when she trounced her Turffontein field by four lengths. True Charm also won comfortably last time out and will have Warren Kennedy in the irons.
Tarry saddles his three-time winner Montreal Mist while Louis Goosen raids his former province with his six-year-old mare Effortless Reward.
Muzi Yeni — keen to cut back Kennedy’s lead in the jockeys’ title race — has eight booked rides at the meeting and he can win the first leg of the Pick 6 on Robbie Sage’s filly Tulip Way.
A daughter of Captain Al, Tulip Way hinted she will not be in the maiden ranks for long when second behind Invisible at Turffontein in September. It might pay to take the swinger with Marmalade Cat as Lucky Houdalakis’s filly has plenty of scope for improvement.
Kennedy has a good chance of going close in the sixth race on Paul Peter’s runner Chief Of State. The gelding arrives in good form yet there could be an improved run in this 1,200m contest from Life Is Good, who is back in a handicap.
1st Race: (3) Malteza (4) Single Red Rose (5) Mentone (14) Nu Bell
2nd Race: (4) Masaaqaat (11) Capitiana (1) Towards The Sun (15) Lady Scarletina
3rd Race: (11) Emerald Crest (18) Secret Dream (5) Flower Of Scotland (2) Tzaritza
4th Race: (4) Tulip Way (6) Marmalade Cat (3) Virtuosa (15) Little Rain
5th Race: (5) What You Are (7) Ikigai (6) True To Life (8) Illusion
6th Race: (11) Life Is Good (9) Chief Of State (2) Old Man Tyme (16) Oden
7th Race: (7) Singforafa (14) Montreal Mist (13) True Charm (12) Effortless Reward
8th Race: (12) Al Mutawakel (7) Green Haze (1) Soqrat (3) Roy Had Enough
9th Race: (2) Emily Hobhouse (9) Jolly Josephine (1) Jacko Boy (4) Circle Of Latitude
10th Race: (9) Hawthorn (4) Itsmydarlin (7) Ruby And Roses (11) Passion Peach