Sean Tarry’s reign as champion trainer is drawing to a close, but the maestro of Randjesfontein is still in the ring, slugging it out.
He’ll be an influential presence on Gold Cup day on 31 July – the season grand finale – but, before that, he raids Scottsville on Wednesday with a stick of five horses who are likely to have a say in the outcomes of their respective races.
Leading the team is three-year-old Black Thorn, who takes on a bunch of KwaZulu-Natal stayers in Race 7, a MR77 Handicap. The gelding brings good form from the Highveld, though he has never been sent over the 2400m he tries here.
The son of Pomodoro benefitted from a short break and gelding earlier this year, dispensing with his maiden at the fifth attempt in late-April on the Vaal Classic track. That was a 2000m race, as was his next, when he finished fifth after injuring a pastern in running. His last outing, over 1800m, saw him deliver a flying finish to grab second place.
The signs all point toward a second win – including a handy weight of 54.5kg, the No 5 draw and the steering skills of Keagan de Melo.
Stiff opposition can be expected from Space News, who had a course-and-distance win in mid-June and has the good fortune of knowing and liking the tricky Scottsville track.
Another of Tarry well-fancied runners is Successful Ruler in Race 2 – also a three-year-old Pomodoro gelding. He has been improving steadily and this is his peak run after a short break. A draw of three at the 1400m starting gate gives De Melo every chance to position for a winning strike.
In the 10th and last race, Tarry fields yet another of Pomodoro’s offspring – this time a consistent four-year-old filly called Trattoria, who has a win and four places to her credit. If De Melo can get her into a prominent spot from the seventh gate, she should be in the shake-out at the end of 1400m.
Tarry’s two other runners, Upcloseandpersonal in the third and Royal Wedding in the sixth, are not without a sniff, but do face tougher tasks than their travelling companions.
7 Purple Operator, 8 Guy Fox, 15 Silver Stardust, 13 Sanctity
3 Successful Ruler, 2 Whispers Of War, 1 Wilde World, 5 El Dante
4 Beckoning Beauty, 6 Magicallee, 1 Upcloseandpersonal, 8 Star Choice
5 Fort Wylie, 8 Executive Decision, 13 Willy The Wizard, 7 Sonjador
1 Secret Giver, 5 Victory Twist, 6 Giants Castle, 4 Death Blow
2 Papillion, 11 Duquesne Whistle, 3 Noble Nova, 4 Royal Wedding
5 Black Thorn, 13 Space News, 2 Blue Planet, 1 Room At The Top
1 Fireonthetrack, 3 Straight Up, 7 Walton Hall, 15 The Bayou
10 Flying The Star, 7 Sofia Erin, 4 Silver Dazzle, 11 Alsflamingbeauty
7 Trattoria, 4 Umkhomazi, 3 Umzinduzi, 10 Dark Moon Down
5,7,8,13 x 1,5,6 x 2,11 x 1,2,5,8,12,13 x 1,3,7,15 x 4,7,10 (R1728)
1,4,6 x 5,8,13 x 1,5 x 2 x 2,5,13 x 1 x 7,10 (R108)