Trainer Paul Peter appears to have a decent sort in African Ruler and the three-year-old son of Trippi could notch up his fifth win when he contests Race 8 at the Vaal tomorrow, a MR 93 Handicap over 1200m on the Inside track.
African Ruler has only raced seven times for four wins and two places and the manner of his last victory over Rafa in a Pinnacle Stakes over 1000m indicates the handicappers have yet to get the better of him. He was penalised 2kg for that last victory and, in fact, will carry 0.5kg less in this handicap.
He also seems to have improved since Peter fitted him with blinkers and a tongue tie. Two runs back he beat Buckland by 0.50 lengths over this course and distance so he must be the runner they all have to beat.
Gavin Lerena has ridden him to victory in his last two starts and he is back on the gelding on this occasion.
He could well turn out to be a Pick 6 banker but there are a couple of concerns. Flag Of France finished 2.10 lengths behind African Ruler last time but is not 2.5kg better off. On paper that brings them close together, especially with Piere Strydom aboard Romeo Francis’ runner. That run was over 1000m and it just a question as to which of the pair will do better over 1200m.
However, a bigger danger could come in the form of Roman Carnival. Trainer Stephen Moffatt has always had a high opinion of this son of Windrush but he has always been a better performer on the sand. However, when the Vaal sand track became extinct Roman Carnival had only run twice on the turf and was therefore stuck with his sand merit rating of 106 on all surfaces. His turf form has been poor although Moffatt insists his work on the grass is excellent.
Now the handicappers have finally reduced his rating substantially and he will be racing off an 83 in this event. He showed marked improvement last time out when he contested a MR 93 Handicap over 1400m, finishing 5.30 lengths behind Brad Surge. His merit rating dropped another seven points after that race so he must be close to his correct turf rating.
Roman Carnival will carry 55kg and has Chase Maujean in the irons.
Song Of Happiness in Race 5 could be the banker on the card. She is finally going over 2400m which appears to be her best distance. One could see last time over 2000m on the Inside track that although Run For Revelry quickened past her Mike de Kock’s charge kept on resolutely to finish second.
This course and distance should be ideal.