Over the last year we have had two tracks that have taken almost a year to sort out and are now starting to be used again.
Racing recently returned to Durbanville and the refurbished track has been very well received by the jockeys. In the past the turns were very sharp and the horses battled to negotiate the turn. The track was undulating and just when you thought you were travelling well, your mount hit a bump and that stopped its momentum.
That seems to have been sorted out and well done to Phumelela and Cape Racing for spending the money and getting the track on literally an even keel.
The Classic track at the Vaal has been the other problem and that reopens on Tuesday. Only time will tell how it works out but those jockeys who have galloped on it have been quite complimentary about the track.
The reason it was redone because draining had to be improved. While that was all going on we used the Inside and Outside courses which reduced that quality of those track because of overuse.
I was not one of the jockeys who tested out the track but I have a few rides on Tuesday and will be able to get the feel of how it is running.
On the subject of the tracks, the distance of Races 4 and 5 at Turffontein today have been reduced from 2000m to 1950m. That has been done for safety reasons as they are in the process of widening the pull-up area. In the past the two tracks joined up at that point and in the process we were cutting up the track severely.
So the decision to reduce the length of the races is a good call right now. It will suit some and not others but unfortunately it’s just the roll of the dice.
Today we race at Turffontein on the Inside track and Race 1 is a Maiden Plate. As all races are around the turn, once again we need to remind readers that the draw plays a huge part. My first choice is Full Of Attitude who placed in his only start. Unfortunately he has a shocking draw which will not help his chances.
However, there are a number of well-bred first-timers in this field and there has already been money for Mike de Kock-trained Alshibaa who is drawn No 4.
I’m riding Good Emperor and as this is a competitive field I’m hoping he runs into the places. A win would be a bonus.
Race 2 is anther Maiden Plate and once again you have to take note of the unraced horses if the money is down. In this race another De Kock runner, Shufoog, has found support and at the time of writing she was quoted at 13-20.
I’ve always believed it pays to follow experience on the Inside track but a good horse can make up for the lack of experience and still be capable of winning.
Of the raced horse Microbe probably has the best form and luckily for me I have got the ride and hopefully she’s good enough to beat some of the unraced horses.
Race 3 is a Graduation Plate and the best handicapped horse is Naafer. He does seem to have the form to win and has a good draw to help his chances but he’s coming off a rest and this 1000m could be too short for him.
For the Place Accumulator, as these horses are young and improving in a competitive field, add in Pillaroftheearth who has a good draw and lots of speed, and Alfolk. However, there are a few other runners who could upset the apple cart.
Race 4 is a Pinnacle Stakes and the best handicapped horse is Girl On The Run. Unfortunately she is coming off a rest so you need to consider Crowd Pleaser and Pagoda although they are also coming off a rest. So maybe the right thing to do is choose any of the two mentioned along with Bankable Teddy who is a fit horse and therefore a safer option.
I ride Arctica who is not well handicapped but he is fit and should be included in the Pick 6. For the Pick 6 put in all of those mentioned.
Race 5 is a handicap and a tricky race in which to find a winner. Ali Bon Dubai has won his last two races well but what concerns me is that before those runs he battled to win a work riders’ race. As he is in top form and fit he is the horse to beat.
His main dangers look to be Gentleman Only and Arlington. Arlington’s merit rating has fallen quite a bit which should make him more competitive. Those three should be good enough for the PA but for the Pick 6 you could quite easily go with the field.
I ride West Coast Warrior who could enjoy the longer distance as he sometimes only gets going when the race is over. The inside track might find him out but at least we have a good draw.
Race 6 is fillies’ handicap and my first choice is Royal Utopia who is a banker in the PA and Pick 6. On her best form she should beat this field. Last time out she was found to be in season so one can expect a far better race this time.
I ride End Game who is coming off a rest so I’m not sure what to expect.
Race 7 is a plate race and your bets handicapped horse is Bi Pot. There are quite a number of classy fillies taking part but the majority are coming off rests. That could make Bi Pot another possible banker. Not only is she well handicapped but she has also raced recently and ran behind Wonderwall in the Grade 2 Spring Challenge so I will take the chance and banker her in all bets.
Race 8 is a handicap but you could have yet another banker in Social Order. He is lightly raced and is still improving. Last time out he did not have a clear passage and could have finished even closer. I would banker him in the Pick 6 and PA.
Race 9 is a handicap and it is quite difficult to find a confident selection, Therefore in the Pick 6, as we have three bankers, we might as well include the field. My choices, in order of preference, are Querari Viking, Neuf De Pape, Jackman and Detonation. Put all of them into the PA.
I ride Jackman. He’s got a very similar form line to Neuf De Pape and Rambo but hopefully he could have the advantage this time as he jumps from No 1 draw.