Splendid Garden has been running against some pretty stiff opposition of late but takes a drop in class when he lines up in Race 7 at the Vaal tomorrow in a MR 94 Handicap over 1200m.
Two runs back this Mike and Adam Azzie trained six-year-old contested the Grade 3 Tommy Hotspur Handicap and last time he ran in a Pinnacle Stakes over 1160m at Turffontein where he finished fourth, beaten just 2.10 lengths by Romi’s Boy. The average merit rating in the race was 102 and on this occasion it is 87.
The last time Splendid Garden won a race was in January 2016 so that does not give too much encouragement but his merit rating has slowly been coming down and it could now be at a level which would make him competitive again.
Gavin Lerena was carded to ride but will be out of action for a while due to his fall last Saturday and Craig Zackey takes the ride. However, he has ridden the son of Black Minnaloushe on numerous occasions so will be a most able substitute.
Clever Guy ran an improved race last time when a 3.50-length third behind Cathedral County over 1000m on the Classic course. He has raced twice over the course and distance for a win and a place. Piere Strydom rode the four-year-old son of Argonaut last time and he has been retained for this ride.
Joey Ramsden appears to have brought quite a few runners up for the season and sends out Macduff. This five-year-old son of Street Cry has only won three times, two of which have been over this distance, but he has been competitive in feature races. He might well be in need of the run but if close to peak fitness has to be included in all bets.
Others to consider are Unrehearsed, who will have Anthony Delpech in the irons, and the Paul Peter coupling of Tammany Hall and Emerald Jaguar. The latter has raced only once and beat Humble Addict by 0.50 lengths. That was in October last year so he has been out of action for 156 days.
It is not too encouraging that no winners have come from that form line but Emerald Jaguar was well supported in his first start and could be a decent sort.