Jack Milner
2 minute read
3 Sep 2015
6:00 am

Africain has the edge

Jack Milner

Weights: better handicapped runners are not in best of form.

Everybody tells you a stakes race will favour the better handicapped horses but that rule might not apply in Race 6 at the Vaal today, a Conditions Plate over 1800m on the sand.

The reason is some of the better rated runners are not racing to their ratings while the most in-form runners are badly handicapped. Guy From Dubai tops the rating and is at least 1.5kg better off than his rivals, and he is followed by All The Bids, who could only manage a three-length third behind Pontedera in a Pinnacle Stakes over 1800m at Flamingo Park.

Nigel Mansell is next best on the ratings and he ran dismally last time 26.50 lengths behind Captain Haddock while Wellesley was almost equally poor when 13.35 lengths behind Master ‘N Commander in his last start.

So now you are down to the lower rated runners with Lavender Landscape and Africain next best. Perhaps the latter could have the edge on this field. Africain is one of the most consistent runners around on both turf and sand. In his seven starts to date the Wallace Tolmay-trained son of Jet Master has scored two wins and four places and with just 52kg to carry, could prove hard to beat.

The five-year-old gelding has not won on the sand but has not raced on the surface since his first two starts. He has come on significantly as can be seen in his defeat of Master ‘N Commander in his penultimate start and then a 1.60-length third behind Leeuloop Jet at level weights in his last outing.

Chase Maujean, who rode him on debut, gets back in the irons for this event.

Mirage Drive came back from an eight-month layoff and destroyed a reasonably decent field last month thanks to a shrewd ride from Karl Zechner. He took the Tyrone Zackey-trained runner into a clear lead and was allowed by his fellow riders to dictate at a slow pace. Mirage Drive was still 10 lengths clear with 400m to run and it was clear Zechner had outsmarted his opposition.

The problem is whether the second run after a layoff will have a negative impact on his performance.

This is a very open affair, however, and a race which needs to be well loaded in the exotics.

Both Battle In Seattle and Masnoon have been nominated for the R1-million Supreme Cup (Grade 2) over 1450m at this course on 26 September and they will clash in Race 7, a MR 80 Handicap over 1600m.

Battle In Seattle improved significantly when fitted with blinkers last time and will have to win this well to have any chance of getting into the big race. Masnoon won well last time against stronger when carrying 50kg but has an extra 10kg on his back in this event.