In Race 2, a 1200m Maiden Plate, Bright Blessed Day could finally get off the mark at the third time of asking. This Gavin van Zyl-trained three-year-old has placed in all three of his starts to date, the latest in his first run after being gelded, when not expected to do that well at 9-1. He stayed on for second, 1.75 lengths behind State Trooper over 1160m at Turffontein.
The seventh-placed runner Terroncito won next time, beating Good Emperor by 4.75 lengths, although it must be noted that the Weiho Marwing-trained runner ran below his best in the State Trooper race. All the same, Bright Blessed Day should prove better than Good Emperor.
King Of Pop could be second best. This Johan Janse van Vuuren-trained gelding was rested after his debut and ran a fair fourth, two lengths behind Fearless Fred over this course and distance on his comeback last month. He has scope for improvement.
What A Story is another who is on the upward trail. This Stanley Ferreira-trained colt was slowly into stride when a distant fourth behind Premier Show over 1200m on the Standside track in his only run to date and, although drawn on the middle rail, should give a good account of himself.
Janse van Vuuren-trained Forgimme and Clinton Binda’s charge Good Emperor should also be in the mix.
Robbie Sage-trained Loyal Lieutenant has been gelded since fading badly from the lead in the 1600m Dingaans at the end of November but meets a much weaker field in Race 6 and should improve. He rates the one to beat in this Novice Handicap over 2000m.
The Dingaans was a tough ask in his first run out of the maiden ranks and his form before that was good.
Alssakhra is highly regarded by trainer Paul Peter and must rate a big danger. He just failed against Cash Time over 2000m here last time. Before that he was fourth behind Royal Crusade over 1800m on the Classic track, when American Indian was a head in front of him in third. He is 0.5kg better off, but it will be close between the two.
The main race is a FM 87 Handicap over 1200m and the vote goes to Strawberry Pavlova if she is sound. She has run two good races following a rest, including a 0.90-length third behind Varsity Girl over 1160m.
Takingthepeace and French Legend will capitalise if she has any issues with her legs.
Mike de Kock’s charge Mackbool has been knocking on the door and looks the right one Race 3, an 1800m Maiden Plate.
This Argentinian-bred gelding is overdue his first win and is one of the few horses in the field to have done well over this kind of distance. He finished a close third over 1700m on the Vaal Classic track last month in his penultimate start and then went down 1.25 lengths into third behind Ontario over 1800m on the testing Turffontein track last time out.
The horses who look to be his main rivals, Belfry, Agent Kay and Judd’s Rocket, are trying the longer distance for the first time and need to prove they stay.
NAP: Loyal Lieutenant, pictured winning over 1600m at Turffontein in September, returns from a rest but has the class to win Race 6 at the Vaal tomorrow. Picture: JC Photographics.