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When trainer Corné Spies saw the draw for the Topbet Mike O’Connor Joburg Spring Challenge, he may have shouted out “Vat so, jou mooi ding!” His star performer, William Robertson, will jump from pole position and this could result in the four-year-old notching the sixth win of his career.

The terms of this newly sponsored 1,450m grade 2 event favour William Robertson who has a merit rating of 125. This is five points higher than Puerto Manzano who may emerge as his most serious rival.

William Robertson’s second behind Equus horse-of-the-year Captain’s Ransom in the Mercury Sprint was probably his best performance to date. He had a wide draw but was only beaten by half a length.

It was a day of big race near-misses for the stable as their Gold Cup runner Imperial Ruby — Business Day’s 40-1 tip for the popular marathon race — was only snared close home by Shangani.

With Keagan De Melo riding at Durbanville, trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren has engaged Piere Strydom for Puerto Manzano and the former champion will be delighted to have another shot at a feature race win.

After beating only two home in the Durban July, the Argentinian-bred gelding was heavily supported to win his last start — the Wernars camp like to have a bet — but had to settle for third place behind Forever Mine.

Those placings look sure to be reversed on Saturday as Mike de Kock’s five-year-old is now 8kg worse off at the weights.

Three-year-old Mercantour gets his weight-for-age allowance and will carry only 51kg, but the improver in this race — and possibly a swinger bet with William Robertson — is Team Gold.

There aren’t many more astute trainers than Roy Magner and when he told this writer he thought Team Gold would win the Spring Challenge the former Zimbabwean champion trainer was right on the money. It was a good tip as the son of Twice Over started at 8-1.

Now Team Gold only has a merit-rating of 103 — 22 points inferior to William Robertson — but if JP van der Merwe can conjure the same finishing run as last time this R160,000 buy can finish in the placings.

Justin Snaith’s six-time winner, Hoedspruit, is in the line-up and this is the five-year-old’s first step towards competing in the Summer Cup on November 26.

Gareth van Zyl — champion trainer last term in KwaZulu-Natal — raids with After The Rain and has a favourable draw. Obviously, the grey would be better off in a handicap.

The supporting feature — the Topbet Joburg Spring Fillies & Mares Challenge — looks a match between Big Burn and De Kock’s talented filly Desert Miracle.

Sean Tarry has only had Big Burn for a short while so all he will know is that the Elusive Fort filly brings excellent form to the table. She finished third behind Captain’s Ransom and William Robertson in the Mercury Sprint.

Desert Miracle returns to action after a 30-week absence and — with no word on her wellbeing in the racing publications — punters should check the trainer’s website where there is likely to be a comment on how she is expected to fare in her comeback run.

Only Big Burn and Desert Miracle are needed for jackpot and Pick Six perms with Homely Girl selected to take home the R30,000 third cheque.


1st Race: (8) Run For Cover (7) Ignatius (3) Gimme A Diamond (1) Gregor Macgregor

2nd Race: (6) Gregarious Gal (4) Intoxicating (5) Cape Lights (7) Namaqua Blossom

3rd Race: (2) Magical Flight (3) Tabby Cat (8) Angel's Wish (5) Angelsea

4th Race: (2) Feather Boa (6) Mrs Browning (1) Miss Daisy (4) Simple Simple

5th Race: (10) Tamarisk Tree (5) I Am Giant (1) Now I Got You (2) Thuinderstone

6th Race: (1) Big Burn (5) Desert Miracle (2) Homely Girl (7) Mercury Rising

7th Race: (8) William Robertson (3) Puerto Manzano (10) Team Gold (11) Mercantour

8th Race: (1) Supreme Dance (3) Back To Black (9) Great Affair (7) Definitely Maybe

9th Race: (3) Mcebisi (5) Leshawes (2) Brenden James (7) Ice Man Cometh

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