The first night meeting of the year comes to Turffontein on Tuesday and let us hope the rain stays away because there are some mouth-watering clashes on the card.
Perhaps the most interesting comes in Race 5, a Conditions Plate over 1400m which sees Kangaroo Jack take on New Predator and Forest Fox. Race conditions and form favour New Predator. He is the best weighted runner by quite a long way and meets Kangaroo Jack on 4.5kg better terms than their respective merit ratings would allow had this been a handicap.
In addition, when they met in the Grade 2 Joburg Spring Challenge over 1450m on the Turffontein Inside track in October, Johan Janse van Vuuren’s charge finished 2.20 behind Kangaroo Jack and is now 6kg better off. He also has the advantage of jumping from No 2 draw which is a big advantage over this course and distance as they start almost on the turn. The Gary Alexander-trained runner is at barrier No 6.
New Predator has an excellent record at this course with two wins, two seconds and a third from six runs. There are two items that could count against him. Firstly, he has been in Cape Town and has had to travel back. Some horses take a run or two to settle back in a rhythm. Secondly, Kangaroo Jack has often won with such ease that Andrew Fortune has almost been easing him up before the post. We just don’t know how much he had in hand.
The same can be said of Forest Fox who finished 0.60 lengths behind Kangaroo Jack over the course and distance but is now 1.5kg better off. Paul Peter’s charge led going through the 400m mark and held Kangaroo Jack at bay for a while but once the four-year-old gelding got on terms he went away to win more easily than the margin suggested.
Randall Simons takes the ride on New Predator who is a class animal and with that weight advantage must be respected. One cannot overlook that 6kg weight swing and the five-year-old Dupont gelding, with just 54kg on his back, has to be the first choice for this race.
Van Vuuren and Simons will be hoping for a double on the night because in Race 3 they team up with talented three-year-old filly Green Pepper in another Conditions Plate, this one for fillies and mares, over 1000m.
She will be fully tested in this event as she carries joint top weight of 60kg with Joan Ranger and is not the best handicapped runner. She will have to prove her class against older fillies but looks to be far better than her rating and is taken to beat Joan Ranger with Piere Strydom up.