We kick off the two-day Festival Of Racing at Greyville today with the second meeting at the same venue tomorrow. There is also a meeting at Turffontein tomorrow so as there is a lot to go through I’ve picked out the main races and any other race where there looks to be a stand-out bet.
The main race today is the World Sports Betting Champions Cup over 1800m at Greyville. This Grade 1 race is run at weight-for-age terms and therefore your best handicapped horses should win.
I feel this race is ideally suited to Captain America as he has the form to beat this field and has good early pace to get nicely positioned on the Greyville track with the short straight. He’s a definite Place Accumulator banker but for the Pick 6 add in Marinaresco and Bela-Bela.
I ride It’s My Turn who was beaten by most of these horses in the Durban July and is now worse off at the weights. I would be happy to finish in the money. This is his third run since the layoff so he should be at his peak but he does still have a lot of work to do to feature.
The second Graded feature is the Gold Bracelet and the best handicapped horses are Nightingale and Bella Sonata. I’ve ridden Bella Sonata and she has a tendency to jump slowly and takes time to get going. This short straight should not be in her favour so therefore Nightingale, following a good fourth behind Marinaresco in the Durban July could be very hard to beat.
Another supporting feature is the Darley Arabian and here I possibly have my best ride for the weekend in Nebula. My obvious danger is Macduff who has run some good races lately, off bad draws, and particularly on the Polytrack.
Another huge runner on the day must be Touch Of Magic in Race 3 as she is has been highly rated by the trainer. I ride River Ayre in the same race but sadly she has a bad draw to overcome.
Another horse worth following is Ishnana in Race 4 as he ran behind Sand And Sea who looks to be a top horse in the making. He might be a two-year-old but on Tuesday he will turn three and would not have this weight-for-age advantage.
On Sunday we run the eLAN Gold Cup over 3200m. This is not a handicap but rather a conditions race and the best handicapped horse is Krambambuli. But not only is that in his favour, that fact he was beaten less than 0.50 lengths in the Durban July must show his ability. In fact, I doubt any of the other runners would have gone that close.
I’ve heard some people question whether he will stay the distance but he has won over 2800m at Kenilworth and should have no problem with this sort of trip.
If Krambambuli is not your strong selection others to consider are Kinaan, who’s well weighted and still a fairly young horse, and possibly Hermoso Mundo, even though he is worse off at the weights with these runners based on his Gold Vase run. If you don’t banker Krambambuli then include all of those in the Pick 6.
I ride Captain Splendid, who’s quite a tricky customer as sometimes he will over race and when you get him to settle he relaxes too much and won’t put in much of an effort. But if he does produce his best, he can definitely place.
The Thekwini Stakes is for two-year-old fillies and many of them are still learning so it is worth following those with experience, especially on this track. The unofficial merit ratings do not tell us how much a horse can improve but it is a good guideline and those who came out on top are Desert Rhythm and Folk Dance.
Unfortunately Folk Dance has a bad draw so I’m leaning towards Desert Rhythm to beat her. My first choice, however, is Rockin Russian, who finished just behind Desert Rhythm but from a wide draw.
For the PA go with all three but for the Pick 6 include as many as you can as many are still improving.
I’m riding Frederico’s Dream who hasn’t beaten the same quality of field as the others but she is quite a laid back filly and gives you the impression she can improve further.
Race 6 is the Grade 1 Premiers Champion Stakes and once again it is for two-year-olds and a lot of these are improving at different rates.
When we look at the unofficial merit ratings it is Purple Diamond, Ancestry and Captain And Master who are the top three. My first choice is Ancestry and he looks as if he would love the extra distance.
Captain And Master had no luck in running last time and looks to have more room for improvement. I ride Purple Diamond who has a wide draw to contend with.
For the Pick 6 consider as many as you can afford.
Another supporting feature is the Grade 3 Umkhomazi Stakes but here the same rule should apply as they are all two-year-olds The unofficial ratings put Al Mariachi on top and the fact he got that rating after jumping from a wide draw last time makes him hard to beat, especially as he is now drawn No 1. Make him a banker in all bets.
The Debutante Stakes (Grade 3) is for two-year-old fillies and once again it is tough to make confident selections but the main horses should be Neptune’s Rain, Tsessebe and my ride, Spring Breeze. They all finished very close to one another last time out and maybe the deciding factor will be the change in draws.
Include the three mentioned in the PA and as many as possible in the Pick 6.
There looks to be a good bet in the opening race at Turffontein where Riding Shotgun looks hard to beat
The value bet on Sunday at Turffontein comes in Race 8 where Rebel Renegade looks ready to make his third visit to the No 1 box. He has decent form compared to his other races where he had bad draws to overcome.