Champion jockey Warren Kennedy, riding the crest of the wave all year, can bring some cheer to trainer Candice Dawson when he rides her three-year-old Eliud at the Vaal on Thursday.
Dawson is probably tired of the media saying her stable is out of form, but as she has saddled only seven winners in the first four months of the season she will be hoping for better fortune in 2021.
Kennedy, who rides Eliud in the sixth race, rode the son of Futura when he ran fifth behind Oscar Wilde last time out. However, it's the Futura gelding’s maiden win that stands out as he beat Bingwa by three lengths and Dorrie Sham’s charge finished a creditable third in last Saturday’s grade 2 Dingaans.
Prospector has been priced up favourite for Thursday’s race and the four-year-old ran second to Pack Leader last time out. That form does not look so exciting after the no-show of Alec Laird’s six-year-old in the Summer Cup.
Nevertheless, as it’s hard to see Prospector not finishing in the first three, the swinger with Eliud looks the best way to bet on this 1,600m contest.
Sean Tarry is represented by Ice Lord and he will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing Cup meeting. The five-year-old boasts some consistent form and should add to his career earnings.
Former champion Lyle Hewitson drew a blank from eight rides at Turffontein last Saturday and the latest news from the National Horseracing Authority will not improve his mood. This season’s current log leader has been suspended for seven days for causing interference on his mount Matterhorn in a race at Greyville on October 25.
The Tarry-Hewitson combination have a serious runner in the fifth race at the Vaal in the form of three-year-old Indlamu. There was lots to like about the Pomodoro colt’s maiden win and he can pose a big threat to Emaline and Kennedy’s mount City By The Sea.
In the fourth race, the jockey arrangements for Paul Peter’s runners are interesting as Kennedy partners The Bastille, who has finished unplaced in his three starts, while Lerena will be on choicely bred newcomer Namib Desert.
A full-brother to Tree Tumbo, who finished a creditable third in last weekend’s Summer Cup, the price of Namib Desert needs close monitoring in the betting market.
Corné Spies’s four-year-old Numberninetynine is the early favourite for this race and will be out to end his frustrating run of second-place finishes. In his last five outings, the gelding has finished runner-up four times.
S’manga Khumalo is another jockey who did not enjoy much success, yet he should not be far away on St John Gray’s runner Liverpool Legend in the final leg of the jackpot. Though the filly is drawn near the Vaal river, she drops in class and should be involved in the finish.
Gray will fancy his chances of winning this handicap as he also sends out Anatura (Hewitson) and Tartan Dancer (Craig Zackey), and both are a year older than Liverpool Legend.
Of the other runners in a tricky handicap, both Fly North and Plum Field are well drawn and will be out to spoil the party for Gray’s trio.
The first “baby” (two-year-old) races are always fascinating and runners from Spies’s yard are often worth supporting. In the first race, the Vaal trainer has booked Muzi Yeni for Marmalade Cutter, who hails from one of Varsfontein’s best families. The filly’s third dam is four-time winner Secret Pact.
1st Race: No Selection
2nd Race: No Selection
3rd Race: (3) Bend Not Break (5) Lucy Belle (1) Lagertha (11) Greenhill
4th Race: (12) Namib Desert (1) Numberninetynine (13) Victor Lazlo (8) The Bastille
5th Race: (8) Indlamu (5) Emaline (1) City By The Sea (2) My Kingdom
6th Race: (8) Eliud (3) Prospector (6) Ice Lord (5) The Eighth Lord
7th Race: (6) Liverpool Legend (4) Anatura (9) Tartan Dancer (10) Fly North
8th Race: (11) Afriel (7) Winters Power (4) Gang Leader (1) Kwite A Trip
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