Picture: GETTY IMAGES/IAN FORSYTH
Picture: GETTY IMAGES/IAN FORSYTH

It is a statistic which will shock racing fans — the stable of Adam and Michael Azzie does not feature in the top 30 on the current log for the 2019/20 season.

Though they sent out 43 winners last term, the father-and-son team have had noticeably fewer runners in the first six months of the new campaign.

Nevertheless, the Azzie runners are always worth close scrutiny and they have a solitary runner at the Vaal on Thursday — four-year-old Palace Assembly who runs in the fifth race.

The gelding is a son of Potala Palace whom the Azzies saddled to four wins including the grade 1 Premier Champion Stakes.

Jockey Nooresh Juglall piloted Palace Assembly to a length and a half win at Turffontein in January and he was presumably offered the ride again.

However, it appears that Juglall feels Lazarus Tree has a better chance in Thursday’s 1,450m contest. He finished a close second on trainer Fabian Habib’s four-year-old last time out so the son of Horse Chestnut will have his supporters.

Sean Tarry, who has a strong hand in Saturday’s Gauteng Guineas at Turffontein, will be looking for an improved run from his four-year-old Rivonia Boulevard. The grey ran unplaced behind American Hustle at Thursday’s track in December.

A first glance at the form book suggests punters have a Pick 6 banker in trainer Lucky Houdalakis’s filly Rock You in the eighth race. The daughter of Judpot has been placed in each of her three outings.

There is one horse standing in the way of a first win for Rock You and it is the Alec Laird inmate Ocean Forest. Owned and bred by Drakenstein Stud, the daughter of Duke Of Marmalade was noted running on when fourth over 1,600m last time out so this extra distance should be ideal.

These two look a safe boxed exacta for punters — it is a bet that often pays well. The exacta coupling One World and Rainbow Bridge in Saturday’s Sun Met paid R65.

Trainer Paul Matchett saddled a winner at the Vaal on Tuesday and he will be hopeful his three-year-old filly Cotopaxi can open her account in the fourth race. A daughter of Skitt Skizzle who has made a bright start to his stud career, her recent placed runs suggest a first win was close at hand.

The dangers to Cotopaxi are Stuart Pettigrew’s Visionaire filly Belle View while Juglall’s mount Daphne du Maurier rates an each-way chance.

Trainer Paul Peter has sent out over 70 winners this term and three-year-old Western Fort has contributed two victories to that total. The Elusive Fort colt will be a warm order to complete his hat-trick when he takes on seven rivals in the final leg of the jackpot.

St John Gray’s runner At Hand looks the chief threat to Western Fort though the colt has had a busy season. It is in his favour that he is a year older than the favourite.

VAAL SELECTIONS

1st Race: (7) Exultant (1) Single Red Rose (5) Samoa (12) Herstel

2nd Race: (12) Var Aglow (2) Soul Connection (1) Blow Me Down (5) Dark Tide

3rd Race: (1) Creation (2) Untamed Tiger (13) Torben Spirit (14) Thandekhile

4th Race: (1) Cotopaxi (2) Belle View (14) Daphne du Maurier (4) Strada Statale

5th Race: (4) Palace Assembly (7) Tokyo Drift (8) Lazarus Tree (2) Rivonia Boulevard

6th Race: (1) Pillaroftheearth (6) Captain Hindsight (7) Touch Of Fate (2) Sullenberger

7th Race: (1) Western Fort (2) At Hand (8) Diorama (4) Christopher Robin

8th Race: (15) Ocean Forest (1) Rock You (2) Grey Flyer (13) Dance Class

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