Picture: 123RF/ MELORYS
Picture: 123RF/ MELORYS

Men’s and women’s slalom races take place in Croatia every January with 25,000 spectators. But unfortunately, only a handful of people will be present when the filly Slalom Queen bids to win the third race of her career at Turffontein on Saturday.

An inmate of the powerful Sean Tarry stable, Slalom Queen opened at 8-1 in the betting for the Gardenia Stakes, so makes plenty of appeal as an each-way wager. It would be a surprise if the daughter of Querari failed to finish in the first four.

It’s an intriguing race as trainer Gareth van Zyl sends up Vernichey from KZN —  his  filly won last season’s Allan Robertson at Scottsville. Champion jockey Warren Kennedy will be in the saddle on the three-time winner.

In the early market, True To Life is the narrow favourite and trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren will be expecting a big run with Gavin Lerena in the irons.  

Also very much in the  mix is Paul Peter’s runner, Spring Of Carmel, with Piere Strydom booked for the daughter of Vercingetorix who makes her first appearance of the new season.

David Niewenhuizen’s grey filly Anna Capri will be the prettiest filly on show at the meeting and — on the formbook — she has the beating of Slalom Queen. The pair met at the beginning of September when “Anna” came out on top by four lengths, and they will clash again on the same terms.

However, that Vaal race came only 12 days after Slalom Queen had run in the Debutante Stakes at Greyville and — added to the long haul back to the Highveld — may have come too soon.

The grade 3 Victory Moon Stakes is another competitive affair with Seven Patriots, Dance Class, Astrix and Victoria Paige making the most appeal. Victoria Paige was priced the 4-1 favourite in early betting.

Victoria Paige’s poor 10th-place finish in the Charity Mile — in which she was fitted with a compression mask — took some believing for this fan of last season’s Gauteng Fillies Guineas third, but she didn’t look a happy horse in the preliminaries.

Luke Ferraris, who has ridden the filly to her three wins, is now replaced by Chase Maujean. Possibly, the champion apprentice can’t do the weight, but it is noticeable that he is not booked for any rides for the champion trainer either on Saturday or at the Vaal on Tuesday.

Dance Class has slipped to 18-1 in Summer Cup betting, but a win here might still get St John Gray’s talented filly into the race. Callan Murray gets the call to ride her on Saturday — her seventh different pilot this year.

Interestingly, Dance Class has also been accepted for the fifth race at the Vaal on Tuesday with Warren Kennedy booked to ride.

Seven Patriots looks poised to run a big race for the Azzie stable. The  four-year-old has kept his form well all year and bolted up by four lengths over 1,800m at the Vaal on his most recent outing. He gets the vote for this grade 3 race.

Cirillo has proved a wonderful advert for his sire, Pomodoro, with five wins and 15 placings from 26 starts and career earnings of R5.3m. The four-year-old turns out again in the fifth race where his two chief rivals will be Approach Control and Running Brave.

The boxed exacta with Cirillo and Approach Control is the way to go in this 1,400m contest. Sean Tarry’s charge may be up to giving Candice Dawson’s runner 6kg, but it will be no waltz in the park.

Approach Control is better suited to this distance than Running Brave, whose latest win came in the Gold Bracelet over 2,000m at Greyville at the end of August. The mare’s backers will point to the fact that she beat Celtic Sea over 1,400m here in March.

SELECTIONS

1st Race: (12) Sea Virescent (10) Desert Boy (5) Marrakech (6) Proficient

2nd Race: (8) Florentine (6) Cape Diamond (4) Bella Black (5) You Deserve It

3rd Race: (3) Royal Wulff (8) Courtroom Magic (10) Humble Tune (4) The Time Is Now

4th Race: (6) What You Are (2) Cockney Pride (3) Pure State (7) Kingsley’s Heart

5th Race: (1) Cirillo (4) Approach Control (5) Running Brave (2) Zouaves

6th Race: (12) Slalom Queen (9) Vernichey (11) Anna Capri (2) True To Life

7th Race: (7) Seven Patriots (12) Dance Class (2) Astrix (10) Victoria Paige

8th Race: (5) Second Base (8) Major Return (1) Nebraas (2) Apollo Robbins

9th Race: (1) Castellano (7) Mamaquera (4) Afternoon Tea (12) Entente

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