After two months of the new season, Paul Peter sits atop of the national trainers log and is clearly intent on improving his fifth-place finish in the 2019/2020 campaign.

Statistics in Winning Form to September 30 show Peter with stake earnings of R1.55m this term — about R200,000 more than his nearest pursuer, Justin Snaith.

But does Peter have the numbers to maintain his challenge to the end of the season? As he sends a team of 14 horses to the Vaal on Thursday — more than any other trainer — the answer has to be in the affirmative.

Selecting Peter’s best runner at the meeting is difficult, but Golden Duke ticks many boxes in the fourth race. This son of Duke Of Marmalade has finished second in his last two outings, has pole position and a top jockey in the saddle.

Though Warren Kennedy gets most of the plum rides for Peter on the highveld, this time he has engaged Gavin Lerena. This is probably because the 35-year-old rode the gelding when he won his maiden at Turffontein in June.

Tyrone Zackey does well with his small string of horses, and his runner Whipping Boy has been placed in his last three starts. He will be ridden by young Philasande Mxoli, whose apprentice claim will reduce the four-year-old’s weight to 53.5kg.

Peter has also booked Lerena to partner his sprinter Rebel’s Champ in the sixth race, but this looks an event full of potholes and it might be unwise to risk too much money on any of the nine runners.

Possibly the distance of 1,450m was too far for the six-year-old when he trailed in last at Turffontein in September and he should do better over Thursday’s 1,000m.

Kennedy rides stable companion American Hustle and, though unplaced on his last three starts, the five-year-old can be given an each-way chance.

In the circumstances, the natural choice is Lyle Hewitson’s mount Old Man Tyme, who ran second on his latest appearance and hails from an in-form stable.

Sean Tarry brings four runners to the Free State track and the performance of Cornish Pomodoro will be closely monitored in the final leg of the jackpot. The four-year-old has been gelded since running fifth in the SA Derby and it is surely significant that the champion trainer has entered him for November’s Summer Cup.

If Cornish Pomodoro is to make the final Cup field, he will need to do well on Thursday, and his task has been made easier by the defection of two runners, Leopold and Nafoorah.

Another of Lerena’s mounts, Indy Go, must be included in exotic perms, though trainer Candice Dawson must be pulling her hair out that the grey cannot find the winner’s box.

Dawson has another runner with strong claims in Meercat, who takes on 11 rivals in the final race on the card. The daughter of Querari has posted two good efforts in slightly stronger company and should give her backers a good run for their money.

The dangers to Meercat include Rock You, League Of Her Own and another Peter inmate, Sacred Lotus, who is bidding for the third win of her career.

The first leg of the jackpot looks a trappy affair for fillies and mares with no stars in the 10-runner field. Florence, quoted at 10-1 in early betting, appeals as an attractive long-shot with promising apprentice Jeffrey Syster taking the ride.


First race: (8) Love Lies (3) Hurricane Hedley (13) Courtney Leigh (10) The Bastille

Second race: (2) Local Knowledge (6) Sea Ways (7) Enrico Cecchetti (9) Captain Scabiosa

Third race: (8) Lhasa Star (9) Make A Penny (13) Tinders Choice (1) Extravert

Fourth race: (8) Golden Duke (7) Whipping Boy (9) Ramchandani Road (6) Stop For Nothing

Fifth race: (4) Florence (1) Mind Reader (3) Claremorris (2) May Queen

Sixth race: (4) Old Man Tyme (3) American Hustle (2) Rebel’s Champ (1) Rivarine

Seventh race: (2) Keep Smiling (3) Invisible (8) Afternoon Tea (6) Let There Be Light

Eighth race: (4) Cornish Pomodoro (5) Indy Go (1) Pack Leader (3) Hellofaride

Ninth race: (1) Meercat (4) Rock You (6) Sacred Lotus (3) League Of Her Own

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