A jockey described the Vaal sand track as appalling after a race last Thursday and implored Phumelela to sort the surface out. That does not bode well for safety or form and it is a puzzling state of affairs, bearing in mind that the majority of the season still lies ahead. But at least we are back on the turf this week.
Anybody who earns a living out of this game and has the courage to stand up and be counted is to be applauded and one can only conclude that Gavin Lerena is not the only man who holds the opinion that the track is in an unacceptable condition.
That’s The Spirit
Lerena had just ridden the Johan Janse Van Vuuren first timer Midnite Spirit to win the second race last Thursday when he urged the racing operator to do something about the surface issues, and even went so far as to attribute that as a direct cause of senior jockey Marthinus Mienie being unseated at the start.
That won’t give us too much confidence when it comes to form assessment but if punters are nervous, how should the jocks be feeling?
Back To Turf
But Thursday sees us on the Vaal turf outside track where a well filled eight race programme is laid on and with month-end upon us, the pools should be a lot healthier than they have been these past few days.
The sixth race, a R105 000 Conditions Plate hosts a quality field over 1200m and Sean Tarry’s Skitt Skizzle tops the Sporting Post ratings.
The astute Tarry looks to have found the right turf sprint for this enigmatically talented son of Jet Master, who is still an entire, although any possible future as a stallion looks unlikely at this stage.
Skitt Skizzle is a course and distance winner and he appears to have displayed breathing issues when not enjoying the mile last time and running 14,75 lengths behind July hopeful, Master Sabina.
His penultimate start saw a fair 3,25 length second behind the very capable Anyday Anytime over Thursday’s course and distance, which appears his optimum trip at this point.
Ormond Ferraris saddles a classy coupling of two six year olds in joint topweight Snowdon and the former Mike De Kock-trained, Link Man.
Snowdon was outgunned and didn’t run to his ability in the Golden Horse Sprint last time but produced a great effort at his penultimate start when beating Whiteline Fever at level weights over Thursday’s course and distance. He has to lumber 62kgs, and means that he is giving a relatively lightly raced talent like Skitt Skizzle, all of 10kgs.
Link Man has failed to recapture his terrific earlier promise and it appears that his better days are behind him. He has run to a 113 merit rating in the past, and will no doubt have his regular supporters.
Dominic Zaki’s yard have hit a rich vein of form recently but the Toreador gelding Deliver The Power does not appear to be a part of that resurgence.
The 5yo is patently battling to regain his better earlier form and has a lot of weight on his back.
The grey Summerhill Stud-bred Stage Call gelding Stavinsky disappointed at his last start when 9 lengths behind Phenomena over the Vaal 1400.
He won his penultimate start on the sand in an MR 87 Handicap beating Duty Dance but has frankly proven to be a bit in and out, and is difficult to fancy with any confidence.
The second of the Leon Erasmus runners is Nice Stride, who looks to have a very difficult task. The son of Imperial Stride last won on the turf over 1160m in November, but has been battling to get into his races recently.
The brilliant Piere Strydom threatened prior to taking his recent seven day suspension that he wuld bounce back fresh and he partners Romeo Francis’ Flag Of France, a horse with which he has an affinity.
Flag Of France has in fact not won since November 2013 and rounded off a four run winning streak in Strydom’s hands.
The 4yo son of The Sheik looks a few lengths better over further than 1200m and has a chance of running into the backyard of the quartets, if things go his way.
His stablemate, Tobe Turf Terror, carries just 50kgs but has only won once from 19 starts and has never run a place in his life.
His form is poor and he would be a shock winner, whichever way one looks at it.