Jack Milner
2 minute read
29 Oct 2015
6:00 am

Few tears as racing bids farewell to the Vaal sand

Jack Milner

This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper, wrote TS Eliot in his poem The Hollow Men.

BEST DISTANCE. Roman Carnival returns to race over 1200m at the Vaal sand track today and looks hard to beat in Race 3. Picture: Supplied

Those words could be applied to the final race meeting on the Vaal sand today as the course will disappear into obscurity at the end of the meeting and very few people, other than some trainers and owners, will care.

There will be no fireworks, no champagne, just the end of a controversial era.

Steven Moffatt will be one trainer who will be mourning the removal of the sand as he has profited from the course. His runners have performed well and he has seen many winners from his yard led into the No 1 box.

But he could be one who goes out with a bang. He saddles Roman Carnival in Race 3, a Pinnacle Stakes over 1200m, and his charge looks very hard to beat. The four-year-old son of Windrush is highly regarded by Moffatt and he hoped the Grade 3 August Stakes winner would capture the R1-million Supreme Cup, presented by SAP, last month.

However, he drew very wide and that was always going to be a disaster over 1450m at this course. On this occasion he is drawn No 1 and has the services of Andrew Fortune, who is once again churning out winners.

Under the race conditions he is reasonable well weighted but is 2.5kg under sufferance with Sarge, 2kg with Jade Vine and 1kg with Precursor, but that should not be too much of a concern as, based on Moffatt’s opinion of this gelding, he is better than his rating. The fact that he is reverting to 1200m should also be in his favour as he is unbeaten over the course and distance.

A bigger threat could come from the Mike de Kock-trained Master’s Spirit who was a facile winner of his only race at this course, although in much weaker company. He also seemed to find the blinkers of extra use and the lightly raced son of Jet Master could be anything.

Francois Herholdt rode him to victory last time and he is aboard the four-year-old colt once again. They jump from a very decent No 3 draw. They carry just 52.5kg but on paper are 4.5kg out with Roman Carnival on handicap.

Barbel Run was another who scored a runaway victory on the sand last time, beating Benbow by 3.75 lengths. Alec Laird’s stable are also in form and the five-year-old gelding looks one to put into Trifectas and Quartets.