Brandon Lerena will attempt to accomplish something last achieved by Bernard Fayd’Herbe in May last year, and that’s to get Mod Barley into the No 1 box.
The Paul Peter-trained sprinter is rarely far off the winner. In fact, in his last seven starts the five-year-old son of Antonius Pius has only once finished further back than 1.75 lengths behind the first horse home – and that came in the Grade 2 Merchants over 1160m at Turffontein in which he ran just 3.40 lengths off Brutal Force.
It just seems a battle for the jockeys to make up that length or so. On this occasion Peter has engaged Brandon Lerena to find the key and hopefully the Durban-based youngster will be able to get Mod Barley to put his nose down the right time.
They line up in a MR 88 Handicap over 1000m on the Turffontein Inside track, a course over which Mod Barley has only raced once. It was a particularly good effort as he raced in a Pinnacle Stakes and finished third, just one length behind Zambezi River.
He has been racing in far stronger company but with this drop in class comes an increase in weight and Peter’s charge will shoulder 62.5kg in this event. However, he does hold that all-important No 1 draw, a huge advantage over this course and distance.
An interesting runner is Vincente who has been newly acquired by Louis Goosen from Vaughan Marshall’s Cape Town yard. The four-year-old son of Var may very well be in need of his run but he looks to be ideal Goosen fare – a speedy sprinting colt – and even if this is not his day, a win from this fellow is unlikely to be too far away.
Gunter Wrogemann takes the ride and they jump from barrier No 3. It could pay to watch for any betting moves.
Rafa might not be doing all that well on the tennis courts but his equine counterpart has been reasonably successful of late. He has won over the course and distance and seems to go particularly well for jockey Sherman Brown who takes the ride this time. His last run in which he finished a 1.50-length second behind African Ruler was particularly promising.
From draw No 5 he must be respected.
Mike Azzie saddles Nugget Counter who looks the best of the younger set. The son of Count Dubois ran well last time when just 0.50 lengths behind Manx Park who he reopposes in this event on 2.5kg better terms. He also gets 10kg from Mod Barley so he does have a huge weight advantage. JP van der Merwe takes the ride.