Picture: 123RF/ MELORY S
Picture: 123RF/ MELORY S

SA’s version of the Grand National — without the jumps — will take place on Saturday when 28 runners face the starter in the R500,000 WSB Heritage Handicap at the Vaal.

The rails between the inside and outside courses will be taken down to accommodate the large field.

Not surprisingly, with a first prize of R281,250, there has been a large entry with trainers from KwaZulu-Natal and Port Elizabeth sending horses to race.

Summerveld trainer Tony Rivalland sends Desolate Road, Glen Kotzen raids with Elusive Heart while Gavin Smith will be represented by Hooves of Troy.

Similar to the famous Aintree race, the betting will be wide open and it would be no surprise if bookies were offering 10-1 the field by starting time on Saturday afternoon.

In early betting, Mike de Kock's entry Fired Up has been priced up as the 13-2 favourite, with Paul Peter's runner Riverstown second favourite at 15-2.

Punters who fancy an early wager on the race might consider Sean Tarry's gelding Aurelia Cotta with 5-2 available about his charge to finish in the first four.

The Vaal hosts an eight-race programme on Tuesday and De Kock appears to have found the right opportunity for his well-bred three-year-old Marmara Sea to open his account in the sixth race.

Though he is a maiden taking on winners, Marmara Sea has two factors in his favour — a low weight of 53kg and winning Summer Cup jockey Denis Schwarz in the saddle.

The chief threat to the De Kock runner is likely to be the Oratorio gelding Gentleman's Wager who is chasing a hat-trick after two wins at Turffontein. This is an apprentice race so Kabelo Matsunyane gets the ride for the first time.

Gavin Lerena booted home three winners at last Saturday’s Summer Cup meeting. He did bookies a real turn when taking the Dingaans on Shango and he should go close on Lady Amherst in Tuesday’s fourth race.

The Ideal World filly — trained by Alec Laird who also saddled a winner last Saturday — went into many notebooks when making a pleasing debut at this track three weeks ago.

The rival who may pose the main threat to Lerena’s mount is Tahitian Orana with S’manga Khumalo booked for the ride on Ashley Fortune’s filly.

The same enthusiastic owners who have enjoyed great success with grade 1 winner Takingthepeace are sure to make the trip to the Free State track on Tuesday.

Their colours will be carried in the first race by Peaceontherocks who has failed to bother the judge in her three starts but now meets a weak field. The exacta with Wharra Wharra may be the best way to bet.

Trainer St John Gray will be over the moon with Ronnie’s Candy’s win in Saturday’s grade 2 Ipi Tombi Challenge and his four-year-old Midnight Top should go close in the second race. Piere Strydom has been booked for the ride.


Selections

1st Race: (15) Peaceontherocks (14) Wharra Wharra (9) Captain Chorus (3) Silver Sea

2nd Race: (4) Midnight Top (9) Cut Loose (14) Olivia (16) Sekhmet

3rd Race: (12) Lagertha (14) Rock You (8) Bordeaux Beauty (4) I Want It That Way

4th Race: (9) Lady Amherst (3) Tahitian Orana (12) Nabeela (6) Super Duper

5th Race: (12) Land Of Rubies (2) Secret Dream (1) Destiny’s Game (7) Sammi Moosa

6th Race: (12) Marmara Sea (5) Gentleman's Wager (1) Meeraas (6) Mighty Valdie

7th Race: (11) Ocean City (10) Princess Nicole (1) Che Bella (7) All Of Me

8th Race: (12) Hear The Trumpet (11) Claremorris (13) Phillydelphia (6) Jenny McGee