When the card for today’s Vaal meeting came out last Friday most pundits would have put a line through Tora Tora when they studied the form for Race 4, a MR 72 Handicap over 1450m on the sand.
The Scott Kenny-trained runner was also carded to race in the opening event at the course on Saturday, a MR 80 Handicap over 1200m. There was some betting support for this four-year-old son of Stronghold and he went off at 11-1 after opening at 20-1.
He put up a decent effort and, ridden by Gunter Wrogemann for the first time, finished a 2.75-length second behind Rockingandrolling.
Tora Tora (Tora is Japanese for tiger) had some decent runners behind him, many of whom would start favourite in this field, so now he has shown his hand, the gelding must be a contender for tomorrow’s event. He drops in class, has Wrogemann up again, but there will be a question mark as to whether he will go 1450m.
Tora Tora did put up a decent performance in his penultimate start when finishing just 4.75 lengths behind Meissa in a MR 90 Handicap on the inside track at Turffontein but the sand is another story.
This field, however, does not look particularly threatening and Kenny’s charge might just be able to recoup some of the losses from Saturday.
Wishful Heart put up a decent effort when a 1.50-length second to Blazing Al over 1200m on the sand. The winner has had two good runs since, beating Trip Tease by 2.75 lengths in a MR 96 Handicap and then finishing a one length second behind the same horse in the Listed Hampton Handicap over 1000m last Saturday.
Wishful Heart pulled up lame after that last race and has been rested for 72 days. Trainer Louis Goosen has engaged Piere Strydom for the ride and most significantly, the Carpocrates gelding jumps from barrier No 1. Strydom is a master at controlling a race from a good draw and as long as he does not have any problems at the gate, Wishful Heart should be a big runner.
He did win his maiden over this 1450m so the distance should not be a concern.
The Mike de Kock yard saddles lightly raced Best Western who won last time on his sand debut over 1200m at the course. This five-year-old gelding has only raced five times but has won twice and placed once.
He was fitted in blinkers last time which helped and gave the impression from the manner of his victory that he is looking for some more ground. Francois Herholdt takes the ride.