Muzi and Striker go head-to-head as top racing returns to Turffontein Inside track

Articuno tipped to make a winning comeback.

Racing returns to the Inside track at Turffontein on Thursday, and this does look like a “punters’ card”.

So often when the time has been taken to rest the track and do all the necessary “gardening” to keep the course in fine fettle, the first run back yields upsets galore.

But there are some lovely horses in action on the day and a number of the nine races on the card look to be between just a few runners.

It has often been said that finding the right race can work wonders for the hopes of any horses and assistant trainer James Crawford, who runs the yard for father Brett, has done just that with Articuno. Back in December 2022, Articuno, a filly by Vercingetorix, made her debut at Kenilworth over 1000m, beaten just 3.50 lengths by Rascova.

Well, the latter has gone on to race nine more times, winning twice more, including taking the honours in the Grade 2 Western Cape Fillies Championship over 1400m at Durbanville at the end of last year. Articuno, on the other hand, has only seen a racetrack twice since her debut.

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She gets another chance to strut her stuff on Thursday when she returns to racing after a 221-day break.

While the comment from the stable is that the filly is working well but may need the run, now three years old she really doesn’t have to be a superstar to open her account in Race 2, a Maiden Plate for fillies and mares over 1000m. To call this field moderate would probably be seen as a compliment, and as a result, Articuno looks be the standout bet on the card.

Kabelo Matsunyane takes the ride.

Jockeys Piere Strydom and Muzi Yeni went head-to-head last time with Biofarmer and Eiffel Tower respectively over 1600m on the Vaal Classic track with the former getting the verdict by 0.50 lengths. The two are set to meet again in Race 6, a MR 99 Handicap over 1600m.

This time Eiffel Tower comes in 0.5kg better off which, on paper, should see them finish on top of one another. Only two items have changed from their last meeting, the weight turnaround and the track. Yeni and Strydom are both back so the question is: which of the two will prefer the Inside track?

Even that is hard to work out as Eiffel Tower has only run once at the course and finished a 3.25-length third behind House Of Romanov while Biofarmer has a 2.60-length second behind Tail Of The Comet and a 3.50-length fifth behind Dingaans winner Purple Pitcher in a strong Sales Race over 1450m.

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The pair are drawn alongside one another, so neither has an added advantage and this should be an intriguing encounter.

Perhaps, as the younger of the two horses, three-year-old Biofarmer has more improvement to come and as a result, Heather Adamson’s charge gets a very slight nod. However, Eiffel Tower is highly capable and St John Gray’s runner is definitely in the mix.

Swingers and Exactas could be the best way to go.

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