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Given the recent knockout blows delivered to punters in the Summer Cup and Cape Fillies Guineas, there is every reason to expect a long-shot result in Saturday’s WSB Grand Heritage Handicap at the Vaal.
This is SA’s version of the Grand National — without the jumps — and the prospect of 20 (originally 26) fairly evenly matched handicappers charging down the Vaal straight makes for a great betting race.
The 2021 Grand National at Aintree was won by a reasonably fancied horse in Minella Times (11-1), but the second home, Balko Des Flos, started at 100-1. The trifecta must have paid bombs.
While the sponsors have Bold Jazz (owned by World Sports Betting), Approach Control and Imlamu as the principal contenders in the betting, this column is going to take a stab at a reasonably priced runner in Back To Black.
This inmate of Roy Magner’s stable has a light weight and rates a solid each-way chance judged on his recent third behind Safe Passage. That form got a considerable boost when Mike de Kock’s three-year-old won the Dingaans.
It is possible that Candice Dawson’s runner, Approach Control, has peaked at just the right time and there is an interesting jockey booking in Donovan Dillon, who partners the six-year-old for the first time.
Strictly on form, Sean Tarry’s four-year-old, Indlamu, has the beating of Approach Control, and the Summer Cup winning trainer has engaged top jockey Gavin Lerena.
Unfortunately, the past fortnight has been a forgettable one for the popular rider with Malmoos going Awol in the Summer Cup and Desert Miracle failing to justify odds of 1-3 in the Cape Fillies Guineas. In addition, Jet Dark ran a lacklustre race in the Green Point stakes, finishing fourth of five.
Tarry has backup in the form of Eskimo Pie (Chase Maujean) and this gelding goes to post boasting two wins and a second in his three starts this term.
Far and away the most interesting jockey booking is Muzi Yeni for De Kock’s lightly raced four-year-old, Power Ranger. Yeni will have been the target of a number of trainers so his decision to partner a horse — albeit a R1m yearling — having only his fifth start is an eye-catcher.
Though Yeni has ridden Power Ranger twice, one has to presume De Kock has told Yeni that the well-bred son of Silvano has a decent chance with just 52kg on his back.
The sponsors, World Sports Betting, have their own horse, Bold Jazz, at the top of the boards and his jockey, Kabelo Matsunyane, will be full of confidence after a treble at the Vaal on Tuesday.
Once again, the quartet will be the big attraction and the selection is Back To Black to beat Indlamu, Approach Control and Power Ranger.
There are 15 runners carded for the Heritage Consolation and Summer Cup winning jockey Calvin Habib should go close on his mount, Bowie. Now racing for Hollywood Syndicate, the four-year-old has been placed in four of his past five starts.
Spanish Boy has paid his way for owner David Shawe this year and should make a bold bid for a fourth win, while both Rock Of Africa and Captain Hindsight go on the shortlist of possible winners.
Gavin Lerena has a good book of rides and could win the first two races on Angelsea and Clarkson. It is something of a surprise that he is carded to ride Master Archie for Paul Peter in the sixth with Warren Kennedy partnering Bella Chica for the first time.
Under Your Spell — winner of five of her seven starts — will be a banker bet with the majority of punters.
1st Race: (4) Angelsea (3) Dame Of Flames (10) Wikkel Spikkel (1) Kiss To Dream
2nd Race: (1) Clarkson (2) Tabebuia (6) Duke Of Rain (7) Mike The Pilot
3rd Race: (7) Emerald Princess (2) Bella Swan (1) Just Fabulous (3) Linganomore
4th Race: (5) Bat Out Of Hell (4) Mamaquera (6) Me Time (1) Rosaprima
5th Race: (7) Keepingthepeace (1) Mauby (3) She’s A Cracker (6) Masaaken
6th Race: (1) Under Your Spell (3) Master Archie (2) Bella Chica (4) Captain Lannister
7th Race: (21) Back To Black (6) Indlamu (4) Approach Control (26) Power Ranger
8th Race: (9) Bowie (12) Spanish Boy (10) Rock Of Africa (3) Captain Hindsight
9th Race: (7) Warship (5) Alulu’s Star (3) Imbewu (1) Muleta
10th Race: (4) Buck’s Fizz (2) Super Agra (3) Love Lies (5) La Valliere
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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed with the Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.