Racing switches from the testing rigours of the sand, to the trickier tactical poser of the Turffontein inside track on Saturday. A R110,000 Pinnacle Stakes to be run over 2200m heads an interesting looking ten race programme. Piere Strydom and Tyrone Zackey could be the combination to follow in the mainliner.
The colourful and always cheerful Zackey is known to be quite an unorthodox practitioner of the diverse and testing art of racehorse conditioning, and despite not always having the best horses in town, produces the winners with some regularity.
We note with interest that his strict application of his charges not wearing alumites has been deviated from, and Mirage Drive wears the lighter shoes for the second time in his chequered career on Saturday. He certainly improved quite nicely with them last time out.
The son of Kahal started his career with a bang seldom equalled in this game. He came out first time over 2450m in February 2010 and proceeded to annihilate his opposition by 14,75 lengths. Labels such as staying sensation, staying star and marathon man accompanied the win and the connections probably got the lot as he was backed in from 16-1 to 5-1. They made it look like an easy game! But he has carried the big reputation like an albatross around the neck since.
Two months down the line at his next start he came into the Gr1 SA Derby and started at 8-1. He ran on but could do no better than 15 lengths and a fourth cheque behind De Kock’s Irish Flame.
It took Mirage Drive close on a year to register his only other win. That was in a Pinnacle Stakes over 2600m at Turffontein. It would thus be fitting, possibly, that he wins on Saturday – he is really and truly overdue.
After a welcome four month rest, Mirage Drive stayed on smartly last time out two weeks ago in a far too short 1450m event and looks to have had a perfect prep for this – if the second-run-after-a-rest syndrome doesn’t collar his aspirations.
His major opposition could be provided by the Ormonde Ferraris-trained Silvano gelding S’il Vous Plait, who has won 4 of his 12 career outings and appears genuine and very consistent. Sherman Brown sticks with him after riding him to an ordinary fourth position behind Yer Maan over the Turffontein 1800m last time. S’il Vous Plait moved up there and became rather one-paced before staying on 2,25 lengths back. Brown will know better what is required on Saturday.
The Mike De Kock coupling of Ice Trigger and Dunraven warrant inclusion, but neither look like good things. Ice Trigger inevitably stays on but appears to lack a bit of heart and fight when required.His only career win was achieved over 2000m in KZN, and he stayed on well enough behind Winning Leap over 2600m last time. There again, he moved up like a winner, and threw in the towel just as his backers were sipping the champagne.
Dunraven is the more proven of the two De Kock runners, having won three races. He was due to race last Saturday on the sand in the weather delayed Vaal River Handicap, which is being re-run on Thursday as we go to press. That surface switch hardly inspires confidence, and he comes off a six month rest. He will probably need the run, if he goes to post at all.
The two 6yo mares Turkish Delight and Salutation are both capable of putting in good efforts and have won a combined eleven races between them.
Salutation is a six-time winner who has run off a career peak of 96. She is currently rated 86 and is lightly raced these days. She may be nearing the end of her racing career, but comes in well drawn off a handy galloping weight. She ran the top stayer Princess Of Light to 4,50 lengths at level weights over the course and distance a year ago.
The second Pettigrew runner is Winter Desire, a twice winning Kahal 5yo gelding who is best remembered for shedding his maiden by 11,50 lengths over the Vaal 2000m. He has won again since and showed his readiness by running on stoutly 2,50 lengths behind Winning Leap over 2600m last time.
Turkish Delight comes off a poor run in the Gold Vase on July day when she ran stone last. Her form prior to that was not bad at all and she won 5 of her 18 outings. She could come out fresh and surprise here under Robbie Fradd.
The Varsfontein Stud-bred Changing Moon is a revitalised and improved character of late.
Spike Lerena’s gelding was going nowhere very fast until he turned the corner three months ago.He has earned consistently in his four runs since and finds himself an unlikely two-time winner from his 15 starts. As a lightly weighted 4yo, he may have more improvement to come, and could be the dark horse of the race.
Ernie Anderson’s 7yo Anytime gelding Dreamy Times is showing glimpses of returning to his better form and has stayed on well at his recent outings. The four-time winner would probably relish a good gallop and will be staying on well, if not spectacularly again. He is a reasonable place prospect under Nuresh Juglall and may enjoy the invigorating sensation of carrying just 50kgs for a change.
Colour Quest is a lightly raced recent maiden winner who comes in under just 50kgs. He could be just about anything.
James Maree’s Wells Cargo has registered his only two career wins with work-riders in the saddle and while he improved slightly when staying on for fifth at his last start over 2600m, it is not likely that he will trouble the more proven sorts.
Joe Soma’s Winter Romance gelding Prince Val carries a paperweight of 46kgs but his form is shocking and it is difficult to see him winning this – even without a saddle and rider. His form inspires no confidence, but his trainer feeds him, so we may be forced to swallow our words if he runs into the money.
With a good pace almost guaranteed in view of the proliferation of lightly weighted horses, a true-run race could result in the right horse winning. Mirage Drive looks set for a change of luck and top jockey Piere Strydom is likely to get the best out of him in alumites.
S’il Vous Plait is his biggest danger. It should be a cracker of a race.