Lyle Hewitson (centre). Picture: GALLO IMAGES/YOLANDA SAAYMAN
Lyle Hewitson (centre). Picture: GALLO IMAGES/YOLANDA SAAYMAN

As Lyle Hewitson again tops the jockeys’ log in SA, it is hard to fathom that it has not been a great year for the talented rider. Need proof? He endured a barren spell in Hong Kong, going 140 rides without a winner.         ’

Things improved when Hewitson accepted a short contract to ride in Japan where, soon after his arrival in March, he won a grade 2 race.

Back on home soil, he has started the new campaign with his services in demand from many trainers. In the first nine weeks, he has ridden 34 winners from 244 mounts.

This total has been achieved despite no strong assistance from Sean Tarry, who often makes a slow start due to resting his horses and African horse sickness injections. Tarry’s tally for the first nine weeks is nine winners from 109 races.

Hewitson is a firm 11-10 favourite to win back his title from Warren Kennedy, but the ruling champion signalled he will not relinquish the No 1 spot easily with a treble at Turffontein last Saturday.

Both Hewitson and Kennedy will be in action at the Vaal on Thursday and it could end up with them returning home with two winners apiece.

Hewitson’s best mounts could be St John Gray’s runner In For A Penny in the fourth race and Slalom Queen in the final race on the card.

As he won his maiden run of 2,400m, there are no stamina worries about In For A Penny. He takes on some consistent sorts, notably Palace Green, who has finished runner-up in each of his last four starts. Recent winner Sun Giant may have more to offer and Piere Strydom maintains his association with Littlewood.

Slalom Queen, a daughter of Querari trained by Tarry, is Hewitson’s best mount at the meeting. The filly will take some pegging back if she reproduces the form she showed earlier in 2020 when she clocked 57.4sec over this course and distance in February.

Ashley Fortune’s Var filly Varina looks decent and is preferred for the runner-up berth to Paul Peter’s representative, Garden Party.

Kennedy will not want any flight delays as he has bright prospects of winning the first two races on the eight-event programme. Godswood, beaten in a photo-finish last time out, has an obvious chance in the opener though Bold Resolve is likely to be a tough opponent.

In the second race, Kennedy’s mount Lotus will be favourite to leave the maiden ranks and she can beat home La Luvia and the well-bred Saving Grace. It has taken time for the latter to show some form, but she can run a place in the hands of promising apprentice Cole Dicken.

A win for the favourite Anna Capri in the seventh race will be a boost for Slalom Queen’s prospects in the eighth. David Nieuwenhuizen’s filly finished nearly five lengths in front when the two clashed at Turffontein in September.

Though she is a three-year-old taking on her elders, Anna Capri looks progressive and can provide the Nieuwenhuizen stable with another winner after Factor Fifty’s success at Turffontein last Saturday.

SELECTIONS

1st Race: (9) Godswood (1) Bold Resolve (2) Harlequin Jack (14) Stay The Course

2nd Race: (7) Lotus (14) La Luvia (1) Saving Grace (15) Rizzoli

3rd Race: (4) Euphoriant (13) Scottish Primrose (3) Super Duper (1) Veld Flower

4th Race: (4) In For A Penny (3) Palace Green (8) Sun Giant (1) Captain Chorus

5th Race: (9) Back To Black (7) Kurt’s Approval (10) Let’s Talk (14) Bellagio King

6th Race: (6) Bingwa (2) Waqaas (1) Whipping Boy (12) Get Set

7th Race: (5) Anna Capri (2) Winter Watch (3) Before The Dawn (1) Che Bella

8th Race: (13) Slalom Queen (12) Varina (7) Garden Party (10) Dewali

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