Picture: 123RF/Chris Van Lennep
Picture: 123RF/Chris Van Lennep

Zimbabwe to SA — it’s a well-travelled route for racehorse trainers whose number include Roy Magner, Paul Matchett, Alyson Wright and the late Neil Bruss. The latest arrival is Gokhan Terzi, and one of his runners, Mr Hugo, could win at big odds at the Vaal on Thursday.  

Terzi won the 2015/16 Zimbabwe trainers title but — presumably worried about the uncertainty of racing in that country —  decided a move south was the answer. He was granted 40 stables at the Vaal from January 2017.

Though it has been no easy task to get himself established in SA, Terzi quickly enjoyed big race success with his sprinter Tandava winning the grade 2 Senor Santa Sprint at Turffontein in 2018.

In an early interview, Terzi said: “We knew it’s a long and hard road, but we’re happy being in SA. We are building, we are trying hard and my fellow trainers at the Vaal have been friendly, helpful and accommodating.”

Popular jockey S’manga Khumalo has a strong book of rides at Thursday’s nine-race programme at the Free State track. One of them is Terzi’s sprinter, who takes on a competitive field in the eighth race.

Khumalo will know his mount has a good each-way chance as he was in the irons when Mr Hugo filled third place on his most recent outing.

However, the victor of the 2013 Durban July can expect a strong challenge from Lucky Houdalakis’s runner Spanish Boy. The gelding was backed on a couple of occasions when with Geoff Woodruff but failed to make it to the No 1 box. Both Soul Connection and Sekhmet go to post in good form, but Spanish Boy could be the right horse for the swinger with Terzi’s runner.

Earlier in the meeting, Khumalo teams up with another Houdalakis inmate, Dark Tide, in the first leg of the jackpot. If the ante-post market is correct, this race should chiefly concern Dark Tide and Sean Tarry’s Riga D’Ora, the mount of Piere Strydom.

Ashley Fortune will be hoping for another successful season and she has booked Khumalo for her fourth-race runner Shezaglo. Once again, it is a member of Houdalakis’s stable who may pose the main threat with Cast The Dice expected to mount a challenge in the closing stages.

The Fortune-Khumalo combination will not be chatting in French in the parade ring before the third race, but they team up with a horse named Un Deux Trois (one, two, three). This likely favourite should go well, but this column is taking the market leader with Luke Ferraris’s mount Swiss Bank.

Ferraris, who has won the apprentice title for a second year, rode Swiss Bank last time out so will know what to expect from David Nieuwenhuizen’s runner.

Bahna Bridge, At Hand and Rocky Path will all be absentees in the sixth race, which makes life easier for the fancied runners Master And Man and Sell High.

Trainer Gary Alexander and jockey Denis Schwarz teamed up to win with Astral Plane at Turffontein on Monday, and Master And Man could keep the combination on the boil.

Strydom should get the best out of Sell High, while Gentleman’s Wager needs monitoring in the betting market.

VAAL SELECTIONS

1st Race: (2) Bravo One (14) Frozen Palace (1) Untamed Tiger (13) Ancient Rome

2nd Race: (1) Jacalac (13) National Liberty (4) Blue Eyes (8) Galapagos Hotspot

3rd Race: (1) Swiss Bank (12) Un Deux Trois (9) Milan Princess (11) Castle Durrow

4th Race: (11) Shezaglo (2) Cast The Dice (3) Flower Season (1) Anatura

5th Race: (3) Riga D’Ora (1) Dark Tide (9) Private Ruler (12) Flattley

6th Race: (1) Master And Man (4) Sell High (9) Gentleman’s Wager (11) Tyrus Express

7th Race: (9) Last Cheer (2) Plum Field (4) Miss Khalifa (5) Miss Tycoon

8th Race: (7) Mr Hugo (5) Spanish Boy (2) Soul Connection (6) Sekhmet

9th Race: (5) Written In Stone (8) Cals Crush (4) We All Chomies (6) Elusive Jack

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