An intriguing prospect greets punters in Race 5 at Turffontein on Saturday, when the action takes place on the Inside Track. The MR104 Handicap over 1600m has attracted an interesting mix of horses: highly rated individuals, improving youngsters, ageing hard-knockers and a couple of imponderables.
Fresh off a tilt at the Vodacom Durban July is Matterhorn, a visitor from Alyson Wright’s stable in KwaZulu-Natal.
Starting at 66-1 in the big one, the gelding never managed to get onto the pace and finished eight lengths behind winner Kommetdieding. Still, he was considered good enough for a July invite, with four wins and four places in 11 starts.
Wright won’t be trekking her five-year-old 600km northwards for the scenic splendour and must be hoping to at least cover expenses.
Top of the handicap is the promising Dr Doolittle, who was a potential July runner until things went wrong when trainer Paul Peter took him to Durban for the Daily News 2000. He might well have had a lousy journey to the coast that weekend as he returned to Joburg and a short rest before showing his class once again as runner-up in a 2000m handicap at Turffontein.
His merit rating of 109 sees him allotted 62kg, which will be tough to carry up the hill and around the Turfies turn. Possibly balancing that out is leading jockey Warren Kennedy in the irons.
Still a colt at four, Dr Doolittle looks destined for bigger things and his connections will be keen to get his next feature-race season up and running on a progressive note.
Also from the Peter yard is six-year-old gelding Green Haze, who is never far off the sharp end, as attested by his MR of 106 and impost of 61kg.
Lying in wait for these three heavyweights is four-year-old colt Indlamu who trainer Sean Tarry has brought along carefully to three wins and six places from nine outings. He has dipped a toe in the hot waters of feature races, in the Secretariat Stakes and the Darley Arabian, placing both times within spitting distance of the winners.
Like Dr Doolittle, Indlamu is being prepared for bigger things ahead. With 57kg, he enjoys a considerable weight advantage over his obvious rivals and might be better distance-suited in this 1600m clash.
Where does the likes of Alibi Guy fit in, with three wins in five runs for Mike de Kock but returning from a 447-day injury layoff? Or erstwhile big-race charger Marchingontogether, who has switched to St John Gray’s ownership after a 33-race career with Gavin van Zyl?
Racing is full of surprises, but these two candidates – interesting though they are – are unlikely to bother the in-form gang.
For value-seeking Trifectas and Quartets, it’s a better idea to put in trusty seven-year-old battleship Full Mast and lightly weighted youngster Stone Cold.
1 Lion Of The Desert, 5 Another Level, 4 Fort Snow, 7 General Hancock
7 Verolina, 3 Amicus Curiae, 4 Juliet Tango, 5 Star Aglow
3 Team Gold, 5 Ultra Quick, 4 Sheldon, 1 Tuscan Winter
7 Warship, 6 Remember When, 1 Freed From Desire, 3 Run April Run
5 Indlamu, 3 Matterhorn, 1 Dr Doolittle, 2 Green Haze
7 Florida Keys, 1 City By The Sea, 4 Noble Striker, 6 Master Of Law
8 Prince Of Fire, 6 Super Excited, 4 Grappler, 2 Bowie
2 Quantum King, 4 Eagle Strike, 7 Successful Ruler, 8 The Makwakkers
7 Tiki Taka, 3 Informative, 4 Voltron, 1 Love Lies
1,3,6,7 x 1,3,5 x 1,3,4,6,7 x 6,8 x 2,4 x 1,2,3,4,5,7,8 (R1680)
3,5 x 6,7 x 1,3,5 x 7 x 8 x 2 x 1,3,4,7 (R48)
Best: Race 8 No 2 Irish Tractor
Value: Race 7 No 5 Black Nap
Best: Race 6 No 5 After The Rain
Value: Race 8 No 12 We All Chomies