There’s a tricky but potentially lucrative programme at the Vaal today, and those punters who watch the proceedings and assess the horses in the pre-race parade could gain valuable insights to help them win.
Three of the seven runners in Race 3, a Maiden Juvenile Plate over 1000m, are first-timers, so watch the betting. However, previous experience will play in the favour of Paul Matchett-trained Brave Zndaya, who could be hard to beat.
The Eightfold Path filly showed good promise in her 800m debut two days before Christmas when second to 4.50-length winner Miss Boomerang. Vintage Trim and Mzari were behind her that day and although both also have scope for improvement, it might pay to take a chance with a Win bet on Brave Zndaya.
There is another potential Win bet in Race 4, a Maiden Plate over 1000m, in the form of Ten-Four.
This What A Winter gelding was backed at long odds on debut last month but lost a length, raced greenly and finished seventh, 5.50 lengths behind He’s Great. He meets a weak field, including four horses who finished behind him, and could go in this time. Watch the betting on the two first-timers.
Hyperactive and Wellspring could fight out the finish in Race 5, a MR 72 Handicap over 1000m.
Hyperactive won his 1200m debut before fading late to eighth behind Surcharge over the straight 1400m at this course in August, suggesting that distance is a bit far. Another reason for that run is that something went wrong because he has not been seen out since. He will sport blinkers for the first time and might appreciate this distance.
Take Swingers with Wellspring, who comes in with his confidence on a high after beating Great Shaka by a short head over 1000m on the Inside track last time. He seems to be holding form and must rate a strong winning chance.
Great Shaka improved that day, is drawn on the right side of the track this time and will go close with Piere Strydom riding. Box the three in Trifectas.
It might be a good idea to ignore Dhabyaan’s run in the Secretariat Stakes over 1400m and have a wager on Mike de Kock’s runner in Race 7, a Novice Handicap over 1400m. He won his only previous start over 1200m on the Vaal Classic track and the stable is in red-hot form.
Nordic Rebel, whose last run has been franked, and Jika look his main dangers.
Shogun is consistent and should give his supporters a good run for their money in Race 8, a MR 79 Handicap over 1600m but Kremlin Judgement was badly drawn when only fifth over 1800m last time and anyway, might have found that distance too far. He should improve to make an impact.
Trip To Troy is another who must be given a chance following a place-franked win over this course and distance in his second-last run and a close-up second to Unrehearsed over the Turffontein 1400m last time.
De Kock-trained Holiday Romance could follow up on her maiden win at the fourth time of asking in October, when beating Angelic by 1.25 lengths over 1600m on the Turffontein Inside track. That form has been franked.
Stablemate Rajasthani Queen looks the right one for Exactas after showing good improvement to finish third behind subsequent winner Teenage Dream over 1500m on the Vaal Classic track.
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