Jack Milner
2 minute read
9 Jun 2016
6:15 am

Al Azraq back to best

Jack Milner

Seven Single could benefit from a drop in class in Race 5.

BACK IN FORM. Al Azraq seems to have recaptured his earlier good form and could continue his winning ways in Race 6 at the Vaal today.

Trainer Clinton Binda always felt he had something special with Al Azraq. The three-year-old son of Toreador defeated Buckland by 8.25 lengths in his second visit to the racecourse and the runner-up has turned out to be a very decent performer and has already done well in feature races.

But Al Azraq suddenly stopped going through with his efforts and Binda clearly had to find out what was troubling his charge. Last time, however, the money came for the gelding and it was spot on. He charged home under Andrew Fortune to beat Magic far easier than the winning margin of 1.75 lengths suggests.

Once Fortune let him go and he hit the front it was clear Al Azraq was not for the catching. After the race Binda said he had found the problem so one can look forward to a few more solid performances from his charge.

Al Azraq was only penalised 2kg for his last win so it appears the handicappers may not have caught up with him yet. Tomorrow he contests a MR 92 Handicap over 1200m on the Vaal Inside track which will be up the straight and with Fortune back aboard, one can look forward to another massive run from the gelding.

He is drawn up against the outside fence on a track which no longer shows a bias to the lower draws.

His main danger looks to be Will Pays who is ultra-consistent but often finds one better. Nevertheless, he is still a four-time winner from just 15 starts and has placed in another seven so he has been a good money earner for his connections.

The Mike Azzie-trained runner has yet to win over 1200m and would probably prefer another 200m. Karl Zechner takes the ride.

National Key is another model of consistency but has only won five times from 51 starts although he has also placed on 26 occasions. Like Will Pays, the Brian Wiid-trained runner has yet to won over 1200m but in six starts over the distance has placed five times.

There are a few others with chances, including Nephrite with Piere Strydom aboard, Vulcan, Zortziko and Last Battle but if fit and well, they will all have to look at the backside of Al Azraq.

Seven Single drops in class in Race 5, a MR 72 Handicap over 1700m, but with that comes a commensurate increase in weight. By using apprentice Calvin Ngcobo the Mike de Kock-trained runner gets a 2.5kg allowance but he had that last time when a 0.50 lengths second behind Netflix over the course and distance. He looks hard to beat but if he is, then this race is wide open.