For a midweek meeting there is some good racing at the Vaal today. Instead of a load of Maiden Plates coupled with some low-level handicaps we have a MR 96 Handicap over 1000m, two Graduation Plates and even the Maiden Plates contain some promising runners.
An example comes in Race 1 where trainer Mike Azzie saddle Span Die Seile in a Maiden Plate for work riders over 1700m.
The son of Captain Al made his debut at Turffontein at the first night meeting of the season and was in a hopeless position with 400m to run after having been squeezed out at the start. However, he took off with 150m to run and only went down 0.60 lengths behind Swazi Lily. It was one of those runs after which you tell yourself to get the money ready next time.
Well, next time is here and Francis Semela, one of the best work riders around, has the task of brining this one home.
Ironically, it was Michael’s grandfather, the inimitable George Azzie, who warned me about getting too worked up about a horse who has to wear blinkers first time out. “It is not a good sign,” he told me, so maybe one has to be a little concerned that Span Die Seile was fitted in blinkers on debut and has them on again on this occasion.
Bad Boy Buddy Boy and Varbration look the pair to fight out Race 5, that MR 96 Handicap over 1000m. Dominic Zaki’s charge finished 1.65 lengths ahead of Varbration in the Listed Golden Loom Handicap won by Doing It For Dan last time out but is now 1.5kg better off.
Doing It For Dan seems to run his best races over the Vaal 1000m so he is still the selection but luck could make the difference between winning and losing. There are no changes to the jockeys with Craig Zackey aboard Zaki’s runner and Piere Strydom riding Louis Goosen’s charge.
Azzie also saddles Melliflora in Race 6, a Graduation Plate over 1600m, and based on her 3.75-length fourth behind Madame Dubois in the Grade 3 Starling Stakes over 1400m at Turffontein on Charity Mile Day, she is likely to go off a short-priced favourite.
She is at least 3kg better handicapped than any of her rivals and will be hard to beat. However, Juxtapose, who has won both of her starts, including a win over Sapsan, could be better than her rating and needs to be included in Pick 6 and Jackpots.
Race 7 is the second Graduation Plate and is over 1200m but this one looks a lot trickier. However, the word from the Mike de Kock yard is that Shaama is working very well and if that is the case, she will also be worth a bet.