Concern for trainer Van Vuuren as chief patron may quit racing
Owner incensed by NHRA inquiry findings threatens to dispose of his racing string
Thirteen years under the wing of five-times champion trainer Geoff Woodruff have seen trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren reap a reward with a top 10 finish in last season’s national log. The 38-year-old saddled 58 winners from 425 runs.
However, his world could be turned upside down if his chief patron Laurence Wernars goes through with his threat to quit racing.
After an NHRA (national horse racing authority) inquiry on Tuesday, jockey Chase Maujean was fined R60,000 for the way he rode Wernars’s horse Puerto Manzano at Turffontein on September 26. Wernars was so incensed he told the Sporting Post he intended “disposing of my racehorses”.
Van Vuuren’s team last term included Divine Odyssey (winner of the grade 3 Jubilee Handicap and a respectable seventh in the Vodacom Durban July) as well as his talented filly Lady Of Steel, who won her first five races and ran third behind Summer Pudding in the Woolavington 2000.
Winning Form statistics up to October 19 show Van Vuuren has sent out 14 winners in the new campaign and — provided horses owned by Wernars are not scratched — he will be disappointed if he does not add to that total at Turffontein on Saturday.
The six horses doing duty for the stable at the city track include the three-year-old Second Base, who rates a banker bet in the fifth race over 1,450m. The gelding is co-owned by Wernars.
Yes, it is a worry that Second Base is a young horse taking on his elders but — as Malmoos proved last weekend — if that younger one is above average he or she can come out on top.
Second Base, a son of Gimmethegreenlight bred at Gold Star Stud, has looked smart in his two outings. He followed a debut win with a fourth behind Copper Mountain, a strong race as the second horse was Captain Morisco who runs in the third leg of the jackpot.
The pick of Second Base's rivals — and the runner which appeals most for a swinger — is Warren Kennedy’s mount, Hot Gossip. The four-year-old has found her form in her past three starts but the champion jockey will have to overcome a shocking draw.
Another three-year-old, Ice Man Cometh, looks the pick of the remainder but Gary Alexander’s runner meets Second Base at level weights.
Van Vuuren and Gavin Lerena could strike earlier in the meeting as three-year-old Believeinthefuture posted a promising second run and rates one of the leading contenders in the third race.
A son of Futura Equus “horse-of-the-year” in 2014/2015, Believeinthefuture ran third behind stablemate Second Base in his second start and it could be a strong formline as the second home, Forever Light, won next time out.
The dangers to Van Vuuren’s runner are Grazinginthegrass, Sea Ways and Master Mariner, who Muzi Yeni partners for the fourth time.
Epsom Derby winner Camelot is the sire of last Sunday’s Michaelmas Handicap winner, Crown Towers, and another of his progeny, Welsh Harp, could spring a surprise in the sixth race.
The mare is another inmate of the Van Vuuren yard and the handicapper has seen fit to lower her merit rating by five points since her last outing. This can make the mare competitive in an open handicap in which Mike de Kock’s filly, Peaceontherocks, is likely to start favourite.
With trainer Barend Botes telling Winning Form that Fire And Ice will need the run in the eighth race, another De Kock inmate, Vaseem, can be backed with more confidence.
While the son of Vercingetorix is also returning from a break, the four-year-old is taking on a modest field and may have most to fear from Sean Tarry’s runner, Against The Grain.
The same situation of a three-year-old giving weight to older horses pops up again in the final event in which Bequest will be the market leader on the strength of her recent impressive debut win.
Trying to find an alternative to Alec Laird’s filly presents a difficult task though Lyle Hewitson’s mount, In Full Bloom, does receive 4.5kg and can make a race of it with the favourite.
Kenilworth hosts an excellent meeting on Saturday with two graded races, the grade 2 WC Fillies Championship and grade 3 Cape Classic.
In the former race, 10 of the 12 runners are trained by Candice Bass-Robinson and Justin Snaith. On course presenters for Tellytrack need to get their view on their runners as quickly as possible.
Marmalisa, out of the 10-time winner Louvre, was such an impressive winner of her maiden at Durbanville that she looks great each-way value at 7-1, while Invincabelle looks a worthy favourite in the Classic.
1st Race: (4) Castle Corner (11) Flying Carpet (13) Nartjie (12) Namib Desert
2nd Race: (1) Dice The Bullet (4) Athenian Queen (5) Mynage (3) Super Duper
3rd Race: (10) Believeinthefuture (8) Sea Ways (11) Grazinginthegrass (9) Master Mariner
4th Race: (3) Nafoorah (6) Major Return (5) Our Coys (8) Magic Vision
5th Race: (2) Second Base (3) Hot Gossip (1) Ice Man Cometh (7) Shortstop
6th Race: (10) Welsh Harp (5) Peaceontherocks (8) Comet Crystal (12) Tartan Dancer
7th Race: (2) Garden Party (4) Captain Morisco (8) Precious Stone (10) Saviour
8th Race: (1) Vaseem (6) Against The Grain (12) Thumbs Up (3) Fire And Ice
9th Race: (1) Bequest (11) In Full Bloom (12) Pretty Jolly (2) Golden Spiral
1 (9) Marmalisa
2 (8) Dazzling Sun
3 (1) Princess Calla
4 (5) Lemon Delight
1 (4) Invincabelle
2. (2) Rascallion
3 (3) Speed Machine
4 (5) Hyde Park
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