Horses / Horse News

Nicci Garner
3 minute read
23 Feb 2016
6:00 am

‘A game’ needed at Vaal

Nicci Garner

African Ruler and Tiger’s Touch could be the ones to side with.

FOUR STRAIGHT: African Ruler, pictured scoring his third win in a row when beating Kapitan (obscured) in a MR93 Handicap over the Vaal 1200m last month, could follow up over that course and distance today.

Two hugely competitive handicaps head up the card at the Vaal today and punters will need to be on their “A game” if they are to win a share of the Pick 6 pool.

First up is a R106,000 MR 95 Handicap over 1200m, Race 5. Two horses who would prefer further but are returning from rests and could be sharp enough to shape are Tiger’s Retreat, from the championship-winning yard of Sean Tarry, and Alghadeer, who hails from the Mike de Kock stable. Neither can be left out of calculations.

However, those looking to cut costs should side with the speedsters.

They are almost guaranteed a good run from Paul Peter’s charge African Ruler, who has won five of his last seven starts from 1000m to 1300m and is bidding for his fourth win in a row.

In his second-last start he beat Rafa by 1.60 lengths over 1000m and had Flag Of France 2.10 lengths behind him in third with Cohiba fifth and Angel’s Power sixth. On that form he should still beat Cohiba and Angel’s Power but on 8.5kg worse terms with Flag Of France – the equivalent of around four lengths over this distance – he will have to raise his game.

He did just that last time out, defying a four-point penalty to beat Kapitan over this course and distance. Dennis The Menace (2.5kg better off) was 0.50 lengths behind him in third with Flag Of France (6kg better off) another length further back in fourth and One Man’s Dream (2.5kg worse off) even further behind.

He has been handed another 1kg penalty for that win and the handicapper must be getting his measure by now, so his task is not straightforward. Jockey Brandon Lerena will also have to make a plan from No 5 draw on a track that favours horses drawn closer to the outside rail.

Amazing Strike scored his third career win in November last year over this course and distance and has not shaped in his three starts since. But those races were all at Turffontein and two of them were in tougher class. He is well drawn and could strike late.

Others with winning chances include The Hangman (who is entered for this Saturday’s Hawaii Stakes), Anjaal, Prince Jazeem, Flag Of France, Dennis The Menace and Cohiba.

Race 7 is a R106,000 FM 91 Handicap over 1200m and there are a number of three-year-olds with good recent form. However, it might be wiser to side with an older horse and Tarry-trained Tiger’s Touch, drawn at No 13 and to be ridden by S’manga Khumalo, could defy top weight.

She rarely runs a bad race and has won three of her last six starts, including a 2.50-length victory from Lady Al over this course and distance. Even on 3kg worse terms, she should still have the beating of Lady Al.

Trip To India could be best of the three-year-olds. She has placed in both her races following her debut win, including a third, 0.50 lengths behind Mombonick in the Swallow Stakes over the Turffontein 1160m last time out.

Other horses to consider including in perms are Leila’s Charger (with a 4kg claimer aboard), Captain’s Diva, Lady Al and Lady Starlett.