Champion trainer Sean Tarry has bounced into good form in recent weeks, after a rare quiet spell, and should be among the winners again at the Vaal on Thursday.
His 2019 Summer Cup hero Zillzaal has been very sparingly raced since that memorable day, but the gelding did show some of his old zest and pace in his most recent outing, leading the 1800m London News Stakes before running out of puff at the end.
Zillzaal drops down to a straight 1400m in Race 2, a Progress Plate, which might be just what he needs to win again and regain lost confidence. Gavin Lerena in the irons will ensure he is correctly paced.
The biggest threat will come from Riverstown, another highly rated horse searching for his best form. Trainer Paul Peter will be hoping a three-month break will have freshened up the son of Byword.
Tarry’s stable jockey Luke Ferraris rides Cordillera in this race – a consistent race mare who has the quality to grab the honours if the two classy horses do not deliver.
Ferraris also partners Tarry’s Grappler in Race 3, a 1200m Maiden Plate. The three-year-old looks likely to break his duck at the fourth attempt following two close-up placed efforts in which he flew at the death.
The filly Hotchiwitchi in Race 5 is another standout for Tarry and Ferraris. The three-year-old daughter of Twice Over made her debut in late December and caught the eye when staying on resolutely for third over 1160m.
The form of that race has panned out well, with runner-up Say When winning earlier this week, and this is a moderate field, to put it politely.
Tarry has a plethora of other bright chances on the day, notably in Race 1 with Voltron, Race 4 with unraced Shikuru by up-and-coming stallion Pomodoro, Race 6 with Earl and Race 8 with Towards The Sun.
3 Retallick, 8 Voltron, 4 Volluto, 5 Franca
1 Zillzaal, 2 Riverton, 3 Cordillera, 4 Pure State
2 Grappler, 1 Eye On Tiger, 3 Global Town, 7 Legerdemain
1 Sabrina Fairchild, 7 Shikuru, 2 Sanuk, 4 Exultant
7 Hotchiwitchi, 2 Greenhill, 3 Cape Diamond, 1 Princess Sabrina
3 Parallax, 1 Earl, 13 Viceroy, 8 Twin Turbo
1 Castle Durrow, 5 Lyrical Dance, 7 Keepingthepeace, 8 Integrity
2 Fromheretoeternity, 5 Towards The Sun, 3 Nina Amelia, 4 Madame Patrice
1,2,3 x 1,7 x 7 x 1,3,8,13 x 1,5,7 x 2,3,4,5,6,9,14 (R504)
1,2 x 2 x 1 x 7 x 1,3,13 x 1 x 2,3,4,5 (R24)