Rivarine and Red Rock look the best of the group as they bring some Grade 1 form into the race. The main pointer is the Gold Medallion over 1200m at Scottsville won by Always In Charge. Rivarine, trained by Mike Azzie finished third, beaten 4.50 lengths while Sean Tarry-trained Red Rock was 2.25 lengths back in fourth but is now 3kg better off.
That brings the two very close together and as such, this race could go either way. However, based on the fact that he is more experienced and his form in sprint races has been far more consistent, Rivarine could just have the edge.
His only unplaced run in seven career starts came in the Grade 1 Premiers Champion Stakes but that was over 1600m and Rivarine, although he is out of Met-winning mare River Jetez, seems to be happier at this this stage over shorter.
In an interesting jockey change, Azzie has engaged Andrew Fortune to ride the son of Var.
Red Rock won on debut and then took his place in the Grade 3 Godolphin Barb Stakes over 1100m at Scottsville. He finished fifth, beaten 9.75 lengths behind highly regarded Red Chestnut Road but the winner did skate home by 6.25 lengths.
After the Gold Medallion Red Rock returned to the Highveld and ran a head second behind Speedy Gonvarlez. Lucky Houdalakis’ runner has come out to win again so that form has been franked.
Piere Strydom takes the ride for the first time.
Azzie has another interesting runner in four-year-old Roquebrune who has been sparingly raced. The son of Var won on debut over 800m at Turffontein by 4.75 lengths in December 2014 but was not seen in action again until June this year when he ran a 7.50-length sixth behind Trip Tease in a Pinnacle Stakes.
He was gelded a few days later and his last run was on 23 August in which he finished a two-length fourth behind British Royale over 1200m on the Vaal Inside track. He should be close to peak fitness and looks the main threat to both the three-year-olds. Based on merit ratings he is handicapped just 0.5kg behind Red Rock and at level terms with Rivarine. JP van der Merwe takes the ride.
Tour Of Duty is another three-year-old who looks to have some ability. He has raced three times for a win and a close-up second and last time was just 0.30 lengths behind Roquebrune who is now 1kg better off. It will be interesting to see who makes the better improvement.