Trainer Mike Azzie had just two runners involved in today’s Vaal meeting and could come away with two winners if all goes according to plan.
He saddles Will Pays in Race 6, a MR 86 Handicap over 1200m, and Abashiri in Race 8 a Graduation Plate over 1700m. Abashiri is so well handicapped in his event that if he gets beaten many Pick 6 and Jackpot tickets will fall by the wayside.
The son of Go Deputy has run four times for two wins, a 0.80-length behind Rabada in the Grade 1 Premier’s Champion Stakes over 1600m at Greyville at the end of last season and a 3.20-length third behind Noah From Goa in the Investec Dingaans over 1600m at Turffontein.
Azzie is on record saying Abashiri is a much better horse since having been gelded on 26 October last year and he showed that with his victory last time out in the Listed Sea Cottage Stakes over 1800m at Turffontein in which he beat Romany Prince by 2.50 lengths.
He is by the far the best handicapped runner at the Vaal tomorrow and is at least 8.5kg better off with any other runner. Karl Zechner, who rode him last time, is back aboard Abashiri.
Will Pays faces a much tougher task. He has not raced since 3 November when he ran a 1.25-length second behind Thrust and a run earlier he beat Viking Hero by 0.80 lengths in a MR 82 Handicap over 1000m on the Turffontein Inside track.
He joined the Azzie yard in December and that should be enough time for Azzie to fathom him out. It could be significant that Gavin Lerena has been engaged to ride the four-year-old son of Imperial Stride.
Will Pays faces nine other runners and one could make a winning case for most of them. Kapitan ran a great 0.75-length second behind African Ruler last time over this course and distance and Sean Tarry’s charge has to be taken seriously.
Duke Nukem has run some excellent races in his short racing career. Trained by Gary Alexander, he beat Antagonist on debut by 0.50 lengths but although that is his only victory to date, the son of bankable has placed behind Bull Valley, ran fourth behind stable companion Champagne Haze on the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup at Turffontein and then a 0.90-length second to Suyoof in the Listed Secretariat Handicap. Both those races were over 1400m on the Standside track at Turffontein.
He drops in distance but has in-form Andrew Fortune in the irons.
Pure Blonde has won two of his four starts and hails from the in-form Alec Laird yard while Dennis The Menace and Imperial Gold also need to be considered.