Picture: 123RF/LUKAS GOJDA
Picture: 123RF/LUKAS GOJDA

Bookies may have got their sums right in making the overseas team the marginal favourites to win Saturday’s International Challenge at Turffontein.

This is not a biased assessment from this Yorkshire-born writer, but rather that the visitors have hugely experienced riders with any UK punter happy to put down his or her money on any of the sextet.

Here are a few thoughts on the international team (in alphabetical order):

ANDREA ATZENI: Born on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia (great beaches), 28-year-old Atzeni is the first jockey to trainer Roger Varian. Latest win for the stable came on Roseman at Newmarket on November 2. Unfortunately, he has not had much luck with the mounts he has drawn — African Adventure might need the run in the fifth race, but Fitzwilliam could find a place in the seventh.

MARTIN DWYER: Since winning the Derby in 2006 (Sir Percy) and Oaks in 2003 (Casual Look), Dwyer has held his own in a tough profession without hitting the headlines as he did at Epsom 13 years ago. He has a couple of nice rides on Saturday — notably Starlighttemptress in the sixth and Master And Man (eighth).

PAUL HANAGAN: The Cheshire-born UK champion in 2010 and 2011 is first jockey to northern trainer Richard Fahey. Hanagan rode the ill-fated Soft Falling Rain to victory in the 2013 UAE 2000 Guineas and had a successful association with top sprinter Muhaarar (2015 July Cup at Newmarket). Similar to Atzeni, he has not drawn any favourites though Ice Eater will be bidding for a hat-trick in the seventh race.

RAB HAVLIN: The Scottish-born jockey is a vital member of John Gosden’s powerful stable at Newmarket. Havlin has often ridden Cartier “Horse-of-the-Year” Enable in training spins and did so before her Arc triumph in 2017. He arguably got worse mounts than Atzeni — place chances on Plum Field (sixth) and Palace Green (eighth).

FRANNY NORTON: Liverpool-born and — at 49 — Norton is one of the oldest members of the jockeys’ room. He rode his first winner in 1989 and had his best season in 2018 with 112 successes. He partnered Sir Ron Priestley into second place behind Logician in the St Leger in September. Attached to Mark Johnston’s powerful stable, he said in a UK interview: “I’m a better rider and a better person since I started riding for him.” He has some attractive mounts on Saturday — Baron Rodney makes tons of appeal in the seventh and What A Joker should not be far away in the fifth.

HAYLEY TURNER: Rode a winner for trainer Stephen Moffatt on her last visit here. She made headlines at Royal Ascot in June when becoming the second female — and first in 32 years — to win a race at the royal meeting. She won the Sandringham Handicap on Thanks Be. Not bad rides on Saturday — Al Borak has an each-way shout in the fifth, but her best mount could be St John Gray’s four-year-old At Hand in the eighth.

Many pundits will be looking to SA captain Muzi Yeni to bring the likely favourite Hellofaride home in the eighth, but it is worth remembering he is a three-year-old and not well in at weight-for-age against At Hand and Master And Man.

This season’s leading rider Warren Kennedy could get the home team off to a bright start on the well-drawn Hartleyfour in the fifth race.

Hopefully, it will be a tighter finish than the Rugby World Cup — and a different result to boot!

Selections

1st Race: No Selection

2nd Race: No Selection

3rd Race: (10) Dark Song (1) Samoa (5) Madame Patrice (7) Tartan Dancer

4th Race: (1) Battleoftrafalgar (2) Doublethink (14) Duchess Of Windsor (7) Captain Hindsight

5th Race: (5) Hartleyfour (10) What A Joker (9) Sweet Trial (1) African Adventure

6th Race: (6) Starlighttemptress (5) Seven Seas (2) Fortuna Doro (11) Plum Field

7th Race: (4) Baron Rodney (5) Ice Eater (3) Bockscar (7) Fitzwilliam

8th Race: (7) At Hand (3) Master And Man (11) Hellofaride (4) Chevron

9th Race: (5) Port Key (4) Before Noon (1) Major Return (7) Emily Hobhouse