A talented group of fillies and mares are carded to go to post in Race 7, a FM 84 Handicap over 2000m, on the Vaal Classic track today.
Some of these runners have been contesting feature races during the Highveld autumn season and could enjoy the drop in class to handicap company. Two fillies who stand out are American Story and Kissimmee.
American Story’s last run was in the Grade 2 SA Oaks over 2450m in which she finished sixth, 5.75 lengths behind Juxtapose and she might just have found the distance a touch far at this stage of her career. Her only run over 2000m came in the Listed Oaks Trial at Turffontein and there she finished fourth, beaten 3.50 lengths by Inaninstant, giving 1kg to the winner.
This will be a real test for the Ormond Ferraris-trained daughter of Judpot and will give us a better idea as to whether she is looking for this sort of trip because until now her best runs have been over 1600m. Muzi Yeni rode her in the Oaks and he is back aboard this time so he must believe she will be distance suited.
Getting 2000m will be no problem for Kissimmee. In fact, the Mike Azzie-trained filly would be even happier over further. Her last three runs have all been in feature events, including the Aquanaut Handicap over 2450m and last time she competed in the Grade 2 Gerald Rosenberg Stakes and finished sixth, 4.80 lengths behind Trophy Wife.
They met at level weights but the winner was rated 8.5kg higher than Kissimmee so it is clear the Jet Master filly ran well above her rating. She received no penalty for that run and will still run off an 84 merit rating tomorrow but she will be giving 4.5kg to American Story. Karl Zechner takes the ride.
Runalong has come to form since trainer Paul Peter started to race her in blinkers and since then she finished a 3.50-length second to South Atlantic and then reeled off two consecutive victories, one of them over highly regarded Nother Russia. She has not raced against this class of runner so this will be the acid test for the daughter of Mogok.
She will benefit from an additional 1.5kg off her back with apprentice Lyle Hewitson in the irons.
In Race 6 Sean Tarry saddles lightly raced Yankee Captain who only knows two positions in which to finish race – first or fourth. He does come into this MR 80 Handicap over 1450m with just 54kg to carry and looks ready to make the jump to a better class of opposition. S’manga Khumalo takes the ride.