While it is early days yet, the career of apprentice Cole Dicken is still stuck on the runway. But the 24-year-old has a chance to showcase his talent on the favourite Emerald Crest at the Vaal on Tuesday.

In October 2019 Business Day headlined a story “Dicken emerges as the apprentice find of the season”. He had ridden 14 winners from 100 mounts. Fast forward to 2021 and the statistics tell a different story. The youngster has ridden 16 winners from 369 mounts.

Of course, you can’t get to the winners’ enclosure without the right horse, and apprentices often have to partner those with poor form.

That’s not the case with Emerald Crest, who is trained by Alec Laird. The daughter of Gimmethegreenlight has the excellent record of three wins and five places from 13 starts.

Dicken rode the four-year-old for the first time at Turffontein at the beginning of July, when the filly was narrowly beaten by True Charm. There is every chance of going one better this time.

Roy Magner has his team in good form and he will be expecting  a good run from Winter Watch, the mount of Gavin Lerena. The mare did finish four lengths behind Emerald Crest last time out, but is 3.5kg better off on this occasion.

Lucky Houdalakis has sent out more than 40 winners this term and his runner Capitana won over 1,200m here in June and could mount a challenge.

Laird runs his two-year-old Sicilian Tiger in the second race and will be hoping the son of Admiral Kitten can open his account. Strictly on the form book, there is nothing to choose between his runner and Paul Matchett’s representative, Zuzan.

Matchett and Muzi Yeni team up with Super Excited in the first leg of the jackpot and the youngster will have benefited from his debut second behind Blue Eyes Girl. It is noticeable that Candice Dawson’s newcomer, Soweto Spina, is short in the betting, so the market will need a check in this race.

Though Wings Of Nike boasts the best form in the third race, it is worth noting that jockey Keagan De Melo has been booked for Mike’s Chick, a first-timer from Mike de Kock’s powerful yard. Once again, the market will need checking near race time.

David Nieuwenhuizen trains Wings Of Nike and he runs his sprinter Anna Capri in the seventh race. The grey is one of the best in his stable but has not won in her last four outings.

Rapid Fire will give the filly a serious run for her money as she is 4.5kg better off at the weights compared with their clash in February when Anna Capri came out on top by three parts of a length.

Clinton Binda’s stable has been quiet of late but the stable has a strong hand with Florence and Touch Of Fate in the fifth race. Both will be ridden by claiming apprentices in a race in which Var Aglow and Alex The Great both make some appeal.

El Romiachi is the early favourite in the eighth race, where Houdalakis’s filly Fantasy Flower rates an each-way chance at her opening price of 10-1.


1st Race: (2) Right Choice (5) Pick A Lily (9) Burmese Tiara (4) Frosted Ice

2nd Race: (7) Sicilian Tiger (14) Zuzan (12) Wave Warrior (10) True Brit

3rd Race: (15) Wings Of Nike (10) Mike’s Chick (6) Coral Dawn (5) Code Zero

4th Race: (8) Super Excited (7) Soweto Spina (1) Lulu’s Boy (4) Eagle Strike

5th Race: (5) Touch Of Fate (13) Florence (4) Alex The Great (2) Var Aglow

6th Race: (2) Emerald Crest (1) Winter Watch (3) Capitana (4) Deep Thought

7th Race: (3) Rapid Fire (2) Anna Capri (1) Dancing Queen (6) Glowtoria

8th Race: (14) Fantasy Flower (3) El Romiachi (8) Trattoria (5) Belle Of Belize


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