The conditions at the Vaal change almost from race to race with the track often getting heavier later in the day.
But if one looks at the time in which Colonel Rockjaw won his last race over 1800m at the course – 114.91 sec – and compare it with that of Commodore Al – 116.91sec – there is exactly two seconds in it which amounts to many lengths over this course and distance. Colonel Rockjaw’s time was also 0.05sec faster than the class average so that time must have some credibility. In fact, when St John Gray’s runner won his maiden, also over the course and distance, he completed the 1800m in 113.23secs
Colonel Rockjaw’s times, however, are backed up by the form. In his run following his maiden win the four-year-old son of Sarge finished a 1.10-length third behind Gary Alexander’s charge and when the pair meet over the same course and distance in Race 7 today, a MR 78 Handicap, he will be 1.5kg better off, more than enough to turn the result around.
In addition, Colonel Rockjaw is only starting to improve but sadly for him the sand will not be around much longer.
Gavin Lerena rode him last time but this time Sherman Brown has been given the ride. It means a lot less over this distance but he does have the benefit of jumping from No 1 draw.
Arabian World won well over 1600m at the course last time out and as he is getting 4kg from Commodore Al, he could be the one to follow Colonel Rockjaw home. His record shows he has not placed over 1800m but he did finish a 1.85-length fifth behind Red Rain on the Turffontein inside track and has won over 2000m on the Vaal turf track.
Ironically Arabian World was also ridden by Lerena that time but has been replaced by apprentice Callan Murray.
To add to the mystery, in Commodore Al’s last win, which was on his penultimate start, he too had Lerena in the irons. When I first noticed this I dashed off to see what Lerena was riding but he does not have a mount in the race so there is no indication as to what he might have preferred.
Trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren saddles Siena’s Star in Race 8 who, despite having horrendous form on the turf, went off to Kimberley in August and, fitted with a set of blinkers and tried over 1800m for the first time, raced away from the opposition to beat Dare To Run by 4.50 lengths. She meets a very weak field and with further improvement could win again.