We are building up to the Grand Heritage race day at the Vaal on Saturday 1 October. The race is scheduled to have 28 runners which means they will be taking out the rail that separates the Outside and Inside tracks to accommodate the extra runners.
That means we will have runners from the inside to the outside. In my opinion I don’t think there is much of a bias as there has been no rain to affect the softness of the track, which is basically firm all over. Naturally that can change if we get a bit of rain.
What also plays a part is if you have horses with lots of pace down the inside or outside rail as you generally find horses will follow the pace. With a big field like this you could end up with groups all over the course.
It would be nice to have a horse who has a lot of natural speed and can stay out of trouble, because in a big field you could end up with a lot of hard-luck stories. Another concern could be the starting stalls. With a big field there could be more horses playing up in the stalls which might affect the start in a negative way.
On Tuesday we are having two experimental races where the middle rail will be removed so we should get some indication as to whether there is a draw bias.
At this stage it looks like I will miss the meeting because I am due to be riding Harry’s Son in France on the same weekend. If things change, I look forward to riding at the Vaal.
We race on the Turffontein Inside track where we have a very tricky card. But to start you off on a good note you could have a good bet on Bold Coast in Race 1. He has a good draw and I’m sure the last run would have helped him from an experience point of view as he was green and did not seem to know what to do halfway through the race.
Of those who have raced the form does not look strong so an unraced horse is likely to be the danger.
I’m riding Tilbury Fort who is unraced but I have no idea of his capability.
Of the raced horses in Race 2, the runner with the best form is Qui Tango. Once again there are unraced horses so one needs to keep an eye on the betting as one of those could well win. I’m riding End Game but Sean Tarry also has Written with Gavin Lerena up and I don’t know which is the better of the two.
Race 3 is the first leg of the Place Accumulator and we need to include as many as possible. I would consider Awesome Adam, Cockade, Seven Single, Analyse This, In The Cruise (who I finally think is running over his best distance), and Malinga.
I ride Vee Man who won his last start but against much weaker company so I can only expect a place.
Race 4 is another event where the quality of horse is not that strong. You could quite easily consider the field in the Pick 6. But for the PA I would cut it down to Fish River Canyon and Cosmo Russe. As the quality is not that strong also include Strut Your Stuff who has only had one run and could improve. Rose Water is also an option as she is consistent and is drawn No 1. At least all of those need to go into the Pick 6.
Race 5 could provide a possible banker in Trip To Troy. If I had the pick out of the yard I would have chosen him. I rode him last time and he was unable to overcome the bad draw. We ended up racing wide and not negotiating the turn very well. I was quite surprised that he managed to finish so close to the winner on that day. Now with a good draw he is definitely the horse to beat.
Unfortunately he is coming off a couple of months rest so it could be worth including Arpad. He has a good draw and is racing fit. Those two are good for the PA and for the Pick 6. If those two are not your selections then Zen Master must have a chance even though he has a bad draw to overcome.
I ride Duzi Moon who is held on form, has a bad draw and I would have preferred to ride the stable companion.
Race 6 contains my Pick 6 and PA banker, and my value bet on the day in Modjadji. I rode her last time over 1450m and as she has a lot of natural speed she tended to over-race. She is back over 1200m and has the benefit of a good draw which is a huge advantage. She is also dropping quite fast in the merit ratings and she has the benefit of a 2.5kg apprentice allowance.
Banker her in all bets!
The danger could be Monarch Air but she has not raced for a couple of months which should make Modjadji even more of a good bet.
The unknowns are Allora and my ride, Shah’s Storm. Both are coming off rests and both have won their maidens against weak opposition. But there is a chance they could make improvement as they are lightly raced.
In Race 7 we have a very tricky Conditions Plate. All the best handicapped horses are coming off rests so as far as their level of fitness is concerned, only the race will tell us. You need to consider all of Intergalactic, She’s A Dragon, Joan Ranger, Juxtapose and Persian Rug, who will be running in blinkers for the first time.
Of the raced and fit horses Drifting Dusk could be included. Choose as many as you can for the PA and for the Pick 6 include all of them as well as Lazer Star.
I’m riding Seventh Heart who is not well handicapped, will carry overweight and has the worst of the draw. In this company she will be lucky to place.
Race 8 is another difficult event as my two selections have only just won maidens. They are Fieldmarshal Fenix and Zeal And Zest. They have not beaten strong quality but they do have lots of scope for improvement.
Therefore I’m including Divar as well in the PA, despite a bad draw. For the Pick 6 consider Intandokazi and King And Empire.
I ride Tide Report who has not run for a year and his last two starts do not give one too much hope that he has any chance.
Race 9 is a Pinnacle Stakes but many of the better handicapped horses have not run for a while which could bring the fitter horses to the fore. For the PA consider all of Captain Aldo, Will Pays, Bulleting Home, Moofeed, Silver Scooter and St Tropez. For the Pick 6, if they are not enough, add in Arctica and Brooklyn Brawler.
If first reserve Forest Fox gets into the race consider him as well. He is drawn No 1 and he holds some of those mentioned at the weights.