Sometimes, even if your heart leads your eye elsewhere it pays to stick with the tried and tested and in today’s case that means going with the best-weighted horse in the Pinnacle Stakes at Kenilworth.
The horse in question is Silicone Valley in Race 6 over 1400m. This Glen Puller-trained six-year-old is weighted to finish two lengths ahead of Heartland in terms of the conditions and their merit ratings.
It could get closer because Silicone Valley will be returning from a 115-day rest, but the last time he took a break he showed he was thrilled to be back in full competition with a 0.75-length win over Victorious Jay in a 1200m sprint.
Heartland ran dismally in that race but it was the Justin Snaith-trained five-year-old’s second run after a layoff.
Heartland went on to run fifth behind subsequent Sun Met winner Whisky Baron in a 1500m Allowance Plate and was put away again, only to return in April when he needed the run but still stayed on for second to 2.25-length winner La Favourari with Line Break 1.50 lengths behind him.
On weight-rating comparisons there is not much separating Heartland, last-start winner Milton and four-year-old filly Hanabi as the horses most likely to follow Silicone Valley home and none of them can be ignored.
However, Icon King, the second-worst rated horse in the field, is a three-year-old with more scope for improvement than most of these rivals and the one my less practical side is leaning towards.
Excuse the Mike Stewart-trained gelding’s last run because that was his second after a layoff and there is strong form to back up his claims.
He won three races in a row before that, the latest after nearly three months off when beating Our Mate Art (subsequently second in the Winter Guineas and Winter Classic) by 1.50 lengths over the Kenilworth 1400m. Two more of his rivals, including Milton, came out to win next time.
With Akshay Balloo’s 2.5kg apprentice allowance again, Icon King should be left out of nothing.
The FM 81 Handicap over 1800m a race earlier is a tricky number with Captains Companion and Northern Ballet perhaps most likely to top TAB’s betting board. However Rock On Wood will appreciate a drop in class and might just be the one to side with.
Vaughan Marshall’s charge was not ridden out to the line in the Stormsvlei Mile last time out because MJ Byleveld was worried something was amiss with this Seventh Rock filly.
She ran well twice running before that, finishing third behind Skip A Beat over 2000m and then getting beaten a head by Colour Magic over 1600m when she only just ran out of real estate. She beat Big Bang Theory (0.5kg better off) by 0.75 lengths into third with Captains Companion (1kg better off) and Northern Ballet further back and a repeat of that run should see her in the No 1 box for the third time in her career.