This year the race will carry a stake of R1 million but will still be run over 1450m.
And the talk is all about Nigel Mansell, who has gone from stuttering in Formula 3 class to leading the way in Formula 1 since being introduced to the Vaal sand. The Brazilian-bred son of Elusive Quality has run twice on the surface, winning his first start by 14.25 lengths over 1600m and then following up with a 5.25-length victory over 1800m.
Remarkably three winners have come from the 1600m and none from the second effort but that could all change today when Estancia runs in Race 5 on the Vaal sand, a MR 80 Handicap over 2000m. It is a distance that has not been used for a while on the sand as racing at the course has been restricted to no further than 1800m.
Roy Magner’s charge was the horse who finished a 5.25-length second to Nigel Mansell last time and can go one better on this occasion. That run was in a MR 92 Handicap so Estancia will be making a significant drop in class but with that comes an increase in weight. He carried just 52.5kg when second to Nigel Mansell and will have 6kg more on his back on this occasion.
The additional weight over this distance on the sand could play a role and jockey Francois Herholdt would be wise to factor it in to his calculations.
It’s not easy for a four-year-old filly to give weight to the colts but Nightingale Grey might just be able to pull it off. She has raced against the boys before and has reasonable results but she gives the impression this distance is exactly what she is looking for.
The Paul Peter-trained runner is carded to carry 61.5kg but comes down to 59kg courtesy of the allowance claimed by apprentice Ryan Munger. There had been a lot of talk about this youngster, who is the nephew of Stuart Randolph, even before he started riding and he is beginning to realise his potential.
He will have a lot a dead weight to carry but Nightingale Grey should be competitive in this line-up.
Mauri Blue has also performed well on the sand and has a record of two wins and three places from nine starts.
Two runs back he was beaten 16.25 lengths by Nigel Mansell but came back well last time to finish 1.50-length second behind The King And I.