We are now only two weeks away from the Vodacom Durban July and I still do not have a confirmed ride. I was offered some good rides early on when entries came out but unfortunately I would not have been able to make the weights on most of those.
However, now the weights have gone up I could have ridden some of the horses offered by the Justin Snaith yard. I needed to commit to some rides that have chances and once Derek Brugman, racing manager for Markus Jooste contacted me, I had to make a commitment to him at an early stage. In the meantime I won the Grade 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge on Mac De Lago on a justifiably upheld objection. For those who think two bumps and being carried off a straight line three to four horses is not enough to turnaround a short-head result I have one comment. I’m pleased we leave these decisions to people who know something about racing.
Naturally Mac De Lago became another July possibility because at that stage he was the only horse I could ride without putting up any overweight. Once top weight Legal Eagle came out, naturally all the horses’ weights went up 2.5kg and I naturally was able to do the weight for the Jooste runners as we agreed.
Obviously Anton Marcus will have first choice and I will have to pick up what’s next. At this stage things could work out badly but on the positive side I could get on to a horse who is under the radar and it might just arrive, especially if you look at my run of late with Grade 1 winners.
Racing is on the Inside track at Turffontein today and we kick off with a work riders’ race over 2600m. This could quite easily turn up a rough result as some of these guys are still learning their trade. My first choice is Vision Of Dahlia with Dahlia’s Arrow to chase her home. For those who supported Navette on Thursday, Dahlia’s Arrow finished just behind her in Navette’s previous run and that means one should be following up on the form.
Race 2 is a Maiden Plate for fillies over 1000m and as this is the Inside track the draw is relevant. There are a couple of unraced horses who do have good draws and do not have to be that good to win in this field.
Of the raced runners Artemisia looks the best. I’m riding Spirit Of Love who has moderate form but if these unraced horses are not any good we could have some sort of chance.
Race 3 is a Maiden Plate and again no horse stand out on form. I am leaning towards Ryder as my first choice but as he did over-race last time he might just do the same thing again. Therefore include Red Renegade as your back up in the Place Accumulator.
Race 4 is another race in which nobody stands out. My choices are Trip Queens and Sterling Heights. Sterling Heights can improve as she has only had one run plus the fact she had the worst of the draw on the Vaal Classic track and is now favourably drawn at No 1. Those are my two for the Place Accumulator.
I’m riding Pippi Shortsock who can place in this field. In her last two starts she has also had some shocking draws and is much better positioned this time at No 2. For the Pick 6 consider Winning Sister as well. If those mentioned are not your fancies then try to include the field if possible.
Race 5 is an apprentice handicap where you will have some inexperienced riders. The fact that it is run over 1450m could make it quite a rough-run race as there is not a lot of time to overcome a bad draw. Try to include as many as you can but my selections are Summit and Awesome Adam who could be good enough for the Place Accumulator. For the Pick 6 consider Zen Master and Son Of Approval. Otherwise the field will apply.
Race 6 is another apprentice race over 1450m and my first selection is Tell My Star, who has the benefit of No 1 draw plus the benefit of a promising apprentice in Eric Ngwane. The danger could be Nitrogen who is held on collateral form but probably has more scope for improvement than the rest of the field as she is lightly raced.
For the Pick 6 consider Soul Of Spain, Snowdonia and Amazing Var.
In Race 7 we have a possible Place Accumulator banker in High Drama. He has won his last three starts and is drawn in pole position. His merit rating is steadily climbing and on weight turnover he is held by Revelation.
Naturally Revelation needs to be included in the Pick 6, especially if he produces his best form. You also need to put in Hyaku as back up. If they are not your fancies you have to include the field.
I ride Rake’s Chestnut who has not raced for a long time and off a bad draw, this does not seem to the right race for him to win right now.
Race 8 is a handicap for fillies and predicting the winner is often difficult but on current form Nikki and Star Of Love should fight it out. Those are my horses for the PA but for the Pick 6 you could possibly include Bajan Fantasy and my roughie of the race, Ahlaam.
I’m riding American Story who is well held by Star Of Love but obviously I am hoping for improvement.
Race 9 is another handicap but my best bet on the day is Noah’s Ark. He is lightly raced which means he can make more improvement than the rest of the runners. He already has the strongest form in the race. Another bonus is that he has a 4kg claimer on his back which makes me believe he could be a banker in all bets.
His dangers are Charanga and Aqua Blue but both have drawn badly which makes Noah’s Ark even a better bet.