It has been quite a while since Mountain Master last paid a visit to the winner’s enclosure. In fact, one has to go back to the final meeting at Clairwood in August last year to find the last time the Mike Bass-trained runner won a race.
It all went wrong for the Jet Master gelding when he received a 5kg penalty for finishing a 2.75-length fourth behind Killua Castle in the Grade 3 London News Stakes at Turffontein in January this year.
Killua Castle had finished second behind Louis The King in the SANSUI Summer Cup a month earlier and was the cause of the large merit rating increment. After that race Mountain Master put up one moderate run after another until his rating began to fall.
Before his last run – in a MR 95 Handicap over 1600m at Kenilworth – Mountain Master’s merit rating was back to 86, the same as it was before his London News run, and it showed. He ran on strongly to finish a 0.15-length third behind Big Cat.
There was no penalty for that run so he races off the same mark when he lines up for Race 6 at Kenilworth today, a MR 90 Handicap over 1800m. Ironically Mountain Master has only raced once over the course and distance and that produced a victory – although it was his maiden win.
He does have a good rapport with jockey Grant van Niekerk, who takes the ride once again. He will jump from barrier No 3 although the draw does not look to be a massive issue as only eight runners are carded to go to post.
The main threat to Bass’ charge could be Waiting For Rain. Piet Steyn’s charge is a four-year-old colt who seems to be producing his best form currently. He has only raced once over 1800m and on that occasion ran on well to finish a 1.20-length fourth behind Spirit Of Hamilton who is a useful runner.
In his last start, the son of Black Minnaloushe got too far back in a race run off a slow pace and was unable to outsprint the winner, Milton. However, he still managed to run third. Aldo Domeyer takes the ride.
Bianzino was well beaten by Mountain Master in the race won by Big Cat and, now that he is 0.5kg worse off, he looks unlikely to reverse the form. He finished 3.55 lengths behind the Bass runner but now has Bernard Fayd’Herbe in the irons and that could make a difference.