Al Sakeet, a R1m yearling who lost his unbeaten record in April’s Man O War Stakes, is back in calmer waters in the seventh race at the Vaal on Thursday.

Trained by Mike de Kock, the son of Var looked something special when he won his first two starts, but failed to justify favouritism in his third outing when he was beaten by Celestial Love.

De Kock brings the gelding back to the minimum trip at the Free State track and the three-year-old can notch his third win in the hands of Luke Ferraris. It’s a busy period for the 19-year-old jockey, who is booked to ride Tristful in Sunday’s WSB 1900 at Greyville.

The Vaal opposition to Al Sakeet includes the two-year-old Sheldon, who does duty for Johan van Vuuren’s stable. It’s been a big season for the young trainer who is in ninth place in the national trainers log.

Sheldon, who cost R325,000 as a yearling, has shown ability in each of his three starts, but the Querari colt hasn’t raced since contesting the Cape Nursery at Kenilworth in February.

Though Captain Morisco, a year older than Sheldon, has more than paid his way this term, a second win for the Ashley Fortune stable is proving elusive. The son of Captain Of All has been placed in six of his last seven starts.

South East represents the powerful combination of trainer Paul Peter and jockey Warren Kennedy, but he seems unlikely to beat Al Sakeet at level weights.

It’s interesting that trainer Alec Laird has kept faith with young apprentice Xola Jacobs with four-year-old Contrail, who runs in the fifth race.

Jacobs failed to overcome a wide draw when Contrail contested the recent Gardenia Stakes in which he ran on from last place to finish fourth. From a more favourable barrier this time, the Laird inmate can give the likely favourite Senescence a run for her money.

Sean Tarry trains Senescence and he will be expecting his three-year-old filly Amber Light to leave the maiden ranks in the third race.

While owner-breeder Antony Beck, now based in Kentucky, has had the good fortune to own the champion race mare Celtic Sea, the R650,000 he paid for Amber Light is not looking like a good investment.

However, Amber Light is 2.5kg better off with Hamaama compared with their meeting in a Work Riders event at Turffontein at end-April.

Gavin Lerena has seven booked rides on the Vaal card, and one of his best mounts should be the Var filly Verinova that he rides for the first time in the second race. Robbie Sage trains the three-year-old who suggested a first win was close at hand when running second to Good Queen Bess last time out.

Jockey Grant van Niekerk has been suspended for 14 days after an inquiry into his riding of Rio Querari in the Computaform Sprint at Turffontein on May 1.

The stipendiary board ruled that Van Niekerk “failed to ensure he did not cause interference to runners between the 250m and 100m [marks]”.

The Cape-based rider waived his right of appeal and his suspension will run from May 13-26.


First race: (6) Captain Lannister (1) Imitation Game (4) Pick A Lily (3) Tuscan Winter

Second race: (1) Verinova (2) Spanish Song (14) Silvery Blue (12) Abalus

Third race: (8) Amber Light (9) Hamaama (2) Katzenthal (6) Passing Shot

Fourth race: (8) Bowie (7) The Contractor (3) Indy Go (5) Rock Of Africa

Fifth race: (4) Contrail (11) Senescence (1) Sergei (3) Irish Rain

Sixth race: (8) Fantasy Flower (10) Hear The Trumpet (7) On A High Note (5) Lucy In The Sky

Seventh race: (2) Al Sakeet (7) Captain Morisco (3) South East (8) Sheldon

Eighth race: (14) Florence (11) Jam Fancy (3) Lagertha (1) Glowtoria


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