Finding a Pick 6 banker for Thursday’s Vaal Classic meeting is no easy task, but the need for one is pressing given the inscrutable nature of some races on the programme.
Black Thorn in Race 9, the lucky last, might be the answer. The nature of the race, a Maiden Plate over 2 000m, does sound the alarm bells, but what is racing if not a calculated gamble?
Trainer Sean Tarry’s three-year-old is clearly an improving horse, who has performed better as he has been tried over longer trips. Being by burgeoning stallion Pomodoro, out of a Dynasty mare, that’s no real surprise.
He also sharpened up notably last time out, following gelding, staying on well to finish third to Ball Rolling over 1 800m at Turffontein. This further hike in trip should be just up his street and stable rider Lyle Hewitson should be able to place him reasonably near the action from a No 7 draw.
Several of his fellow competitors have fair form, without much stardust to catch the eye.
The efforts of Manterio, Barometer and Prideoffranschhoek suggest they might lack stamina for this 2 000m test, while Soldiers Song and Waltzing Al seem to be the proverbial good guys who come second, third or fourth.
Tarry and Hewitson could taste success earlier in the day, in Race 4, a Progress Plate that boasts the strongest line-up on the card.
Their charge Shah Akbar is among the 54 early entries for the Vodacom Durban July announced last week, but to get anywhere near qualifying for that August event the three-year-old colt needs to start winning races pronto.
The scratching of his promising stablemate Flying Carpet from this 1 600m event has made the task a lot easier.
Hewitson originally opted to ride Shah Akbar, indicating that he was the stable choice. Though he proved no match for Triple Crown winner Malmoos in the SA Classic and SA Derby, the well-pedigreed son of Querari does appear to have scope for improvement.
Race 1: Many first-timers; watch betting
Race 2: Many first-timers; watch betting
8 La Sicaria, 1 Dancing Arabian, 2 Meet The Captain, 11 Lollapalooza
2 Shah Akbar, 3 Eliud, 6 Bowie, 4 Herodotus
3 Spring Break, 4 Kayla’s Champ, 1 Visiway, 6 Against The Grain
4 Emerald Crest, 5 Dubawi Princess, 8 Brooklyn Bridge, 2 May Queen
7 Roger The Dodger, 5 Wuhan, 2 Stop For Nothing, 3 Midnight Gem
1 Baymax, 2 Validus, 4 Afraad, 6 Earl
2 Black Thorn, 3 Barometer, 5 Soldiers Song, 1 Manterio
2,3,6 x 1,3,4 x 2,3,4,5,6,8 x 2,3,5,7 x 1,2,4,6 x 2 (R864)
1,2,8,11 x 2,3 x 3 x 4,5,8 x 2,5,7 x 1,2 x 2 (R144)