Picture: GETTY IMAGES/IAN FORSYTH
Picture: GETTY IMAGES/IAN FORSYTH

Racing Writer

While racing fans will be eager to see top three-year-old filly War Of Athena in action again on Saturday, a female of the same age group should be a banker bet at the Vaal on Thursday.

Castle Durrow, fourth behind War Of Athena in the recent Gauteng Fillies Guineas, should prove too smart for her nine rivals in the seventh race at the Free State track.

Trained by Lucky Houdalakis, who is in 20th place in the national log, Castle Durrow goes to post boasting two wins and four places from her six appearances.

Naming the opponent likely to pose the main threat to the favourite is no easy task, but Act Of War’s daughter Mauby won her maiden in good style and should have more to offer. This R75,000 buy will be ridden by Randall Simons.

Luke Ferraris, who rode Mauby to her maiden win, has been booked for Sean Tarry’s runner Bebop, who rates an each-way chance.

Mike de Kock sends out three runners from his Randjesfontein base and S’manga Khumalo’s mount, Keepthepeace, may prove the pick of the trio. The Visionaire filly won her maiden run in January by seven lengths.

One of Paul Peter’s top performers, Riverstown, returns to action in the second race after a 12-week break. The gelding probably needed the rest after a busy time in 2020.

Whether Riverstown can return with a fourth career win remains to be seen and the betting market will be the best guide. His opening price on Wednesday was 13-10.

The second favourite is Tarry’s mare Cordillera, who should be cherry ripe in her third run after a race. The five-year-old is a daughter of Skitt Skizzle, whose progeny have done well in recent weeks — Ice Lord was a recent winner.

Tarry also runs his 2019 Summer Cup victor Zillzaal, but the gelding has failed to place in his three outings since that memorable win. The champion trainer will be looking for an improved performance, though the 1,400m trip may be on the short side.

Craig Zackey, who rides Castle Durrow in the seventh race, partners another form horse from the Houdalakis yard, Parallax, in the sixth event on the card. The Vercingetorix                 gelding was beaten in a photo-finish last time out.

However, this looks a trappy maiden plate and another of Khumalo’s mounts, Irish Rain, makes the most appeal. Alec Laird’s colt should appreciate the step up to 1,800m.

Another Tarry inmate, Earl, enters the reckoning with blinkers fitted. Sitting Bull could also get involved provided Gavin Lerena can overcome a wide draw.

Whatever the fate of Earl, Tarry and jockey Ferraris will be expecting to capture the fifth race with three-year-old filly Hotchiwitchi. She made a promising debut at Turffontein in December and may prove too speedy for Warren Kennedy’s mount Greenhill.

Kennedy has six booked rides at the meeting and the pick of the sextet should be Sabrina Fairchild in the first leg of the jackpot. The Querari filly is overdue to leave the maiden ranks.

It will be interesting to see if there is any market support for Tarry’s newcomer Shikuru. The daughter of Pomodoro — bred at Klawervlei Stud — cost R120,000 as a yearling.

Frankel’s daughter Lagertha is entrusted to Khumalo for the first time in the final race on the card and the filly should finish in the money. Full Velocity could be anything after her maiden win in September but might be ring-rusty. Ashley Fortune’s filly Jam Fancy looks like a safer alternative.

Selections

1st Race: (3) Retallick (8) Voltron (4) Volluto (5) Franca

2nd Race: (3) Cordillera (2) Riverstown (4) Pure State (6) Roger The Dodger

3rd Race: (1) Eyes On Tiger (2) Grappler (3) Global Town (7) Legerdemain

4th Race: (1) Sabrina Fairchild (7) Shikuru (2) Sanuk (3) Suntrax

5th Race: (7) Hotchiwitchi (2) Greenhill (3) Cape Diamond (1) Princess Sabrina

6th Race: (4) Irish Rain (3) Parallax (1) Earl (5) Sitting Bull

7th Race: (1) Castle Durrow (4) Mauby (7) Keepingthepeace (6) Bebop

8th Race: (11) Jam Fancy (13) Lagertha (6) Full Velocity (3) Nina Amelia

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