Christmas without Clairwood. It just doesn’t feel quite the same. But life goes on and the R200 000 Gr3 Christmas Handicap will be run at a mixed turf and poly day-night meeting at Greyville this evening.
It is KZN horseracing’s first Christmas in close on a century without Clairwood after the Garden Course shut its doors in August this year.
All very sad, and a fact compounded by Greyville’s recent Friday evening power problems – which we hope will be finally sorted out as Father Christmas dashes off home after a tough 2014.
A seriously mixed bunch of handicappers line up to do battle in this turf mile that has produced its fair share of upset results over the years.
Colin Scott’s yard has been rather quiet of late but a good starting point may be his solid 7yo Dynasty gelding Fourth Estate who finished third in the race last year behind King Of Torts.
Well drawn and with the in-form Alec Forbes up (he rode a nice double last Friday evening), the course and distance winning Fourth Estate hasn’t won in over a year but it is possible that the poly is not his a-game.
He has developed a tendency to be slow away, but there is plenty of pace here and he could bounce back to best.
He will have to get past last year’s Christmas Handicap winner King Of Torts who returns to defend his title after a cracking win over the capable Candy Moon at his last start.
He is a half kilo worse off with Paul Gadsby’s Candy Moon here but the latter is poorly drawn and may have to play second fiddle once again.
An interesting runner is the Australian bred Diamond King who ran a fair race on the polytrack last time and now drops to a handy galloping 52kgs.
The son of More Than Ready could well be better than rated and only needs to recapture his course and distance winning form of his 3yo season, to have a chance here from a decent draw.
Emperor Niarchos has lost his decent form of last season and will need to pick up his feet after his ordinary last run.
At best, he is not too far off Diamond King.
Charles Laird’s topweight Distinguished ran in the same race and was a well beaten 7,65 lengths adrift.
On his best form, the son of Kahal could spook them but he is more likely to serve as a good pacemaker and needs some improvement on his recent form.
After his excellent fourth to Yorker, Kom Naidoo’s Royal Zulu Warrior is looking a trifle jaded and past his best at the age of 8.
He would be a shock winner.
Weiho Marwing’s new Ashburton yard has been in fine form and he saddles the Tiger Ridge gelding Isobar, who is another to have drawn very wide.
He did run a cracking third behind King Of Torts last time to show his wellbeing but the latter is a hlf kilo better off and could hold him again.
Isobar has only tried the mile once previously and while in strong company, he failed to deliver.
His stablemate Uncle Tommy returns from a 12 week break following his gallant runner-up berth to Tommy Gun in the Emerald Cup.
The draw has not been kind to him, but he is not purely a sand horse and has the class to deliver a shock, if fit.
Age Of Glory
Jeff Freedman’s Requiem gelding Silver Age won this race in 2012, but has been lightly raced in recent times and comes in a half kilo better off with King Of Torts after running 3,15 lengths behind him on his season opener.
He was considered good enough to try for the Gr1 Gold Challenge (he ran 8,10 lengths behind King Of Pain) and he may be worthy of inclusion in bigger perms.
King Of Tort’s stablemate Educated is a decent five-time winning mare, but her best performances have been against her own sex and she will battle to trouble the top three on her best form.
Stolen Destiny is the second the Scott runners.
He was well beaten by King Of Torts last time but drops 4kgs in the weights and could burgle a place cheque with some luck in running.
Great Rumpus lost a shoe when fourth behind Bold Inspiration at his penultimate start.
He was then a no show in Johannesburg and returns to what should be more his game.
The 8yo Mike’s Choice is drawn wide and is more regarded as a sprinter. He could be past his best.