When it comes to astute trainers, Stuart Pettigrew is close to the top of the log. He would have worked out some time ago that his three-year-old Vars Vicky would come into the grade 2 Senor Santa Stakes with a low weight.

This 1,160m dash takes place at Turffontein on Saturday and Vars Vicky — bred at the Gary Player stud — is reunited with Muzi Yeni who won on the Var gelding in January.

UK-born Pettigrew has been in the headlines in the past year as the result of the exploits of his star filly Anything Goes. She is a five-time winner but has twice been beaten by War Of Athena in 2021.

He was also the trainer of Surcharge who won the Daily News 2000 as a three-year-old and last year a grade 1 race in Australia.

With so many top performers in the field, perhaps the Senor Santa is not a race to plunge on too heavily as all of True To Life, Eden Roc, Chimichuri Run, Gallic Princess, Bohica and Mount Pleasant will have their supporters.

For an interesting trifecta wager, punters could consider roving Vars Vicky with the above six runners. The bet would cost R90.

Gavin Lerena will have had the choice of rides between Chimichuri Run and True To Life and has opted for the latter. Certainly, the Duke Of Marmalade filly was most impressive when winning February's Tommy Hotspur Handicap.

Eden Roc has earned four times his purchase price for owner Chris van Niekerk (a big weekend ahead for SA’s leading owner with the CTS Premier Yearling Sale at De Grendel wine estate on Sunday) and the colt should be in the thick of the action again. Whether he can concede 8kg to Vars Vicky remains to be seen.

Though this column’s choice of Gallic Princess for second place will raise a few eyebrows, her defeat of Rio Querari at Greyville last July looks a huge performance in view of the subsequent form of Justin Snaith’s sprinter.

It’s disappointing that Candice Dawson’s filly has failed to win in four subsequent outings, but red-hot Luke Ferraris will do the piloting for the first time on Saturday.

Bohica finds himself 4,5kg worse off with True To Life so will battle to turn the tables, but Mount Pleasant could be a real tough opponent now that the Vancouver colt reverts to sprinting.

In the final analysis, Vars Vicky gets the vote ahead of Gallic Princess, True To Life and Eden Roc.

While the first 10 weeks of 2021 have been fairly frustrating for Lyle Hewitson — he returned after a week’s suspension last weekend — his Derby Trial mount Invincible Warrior looks worth a punt in the 2,000m event.

Sean Tarry will have liked the way the son of Vercingetorix stayed on at the end of the recent Egoli Mile and he is presumably aiming the gelding at April’s SA Derby.

The only concern is that Invincible Warrior's dam, Giant’s Bounty, only won up to 1,400m and his half-brother Captain’s Causeway won four races over sprint distances.

In the circumstances, it would be unwise to leave three-time winner Pamushana’s Pride out of exotic perms.

It’s an excellent card at the city track and a field of 10 will face the starter in the Drum Star Handicap over 1,800m. Youcanthurrylove has had five different jockeys in his last five races, but Gavin Lerena is sure to get the best out of Fabian Habib’s runner following a promising second last time out. The swinger with Pack Leader makes plenty of appeal.

Ormond Ferraris is one of the most respected and talented gentlemen in racing and it’s fitting that Saturday's sixth race — the Oaks Trial — carries his name.

This 2,000m Listed event looks a nightmare for punters but Ferraris is assisting Paul Peter so Ideal Jet should run a big race with champion Warren Kennedy in the irons. Diane Stenger’s filly Mauby may appreciate going the extra ground.


1st Race: No Selection

2nd Race: No Selection

3rd Race: (1) Forever Mine (3) Captain Morisco (2) Valyrian King (5) Celestial Love

4th Race: (4) Youcanthurrylove (6) Pack Leader (2) Running Brave (5) Green Haze

5th Race: (3) Invincible Warrior (2) Pamushana's Pride (7) Bold Resolve (9) Ushuaia

6th Race: (1) Ideal Jet (6) Mauby (2) Traveling Wilbury (5) Keepingthepeace

7th Race: (14) Vars Vicky (11) Gallic Princess (6) True To Life (2) Eden Roc

8th Race: (6) Afraad (5) Imperial Duke (2) FSquadron (3) Fred

9th Race: (11) Bowie (4) BattleofTrafalgar (13) Battle Force (16) Namaqualand


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