The threat of thunderstorms could change the complexion of what is already a complex handicap feature at Turffontein this afternoon.
The withdrawal of Mike Azzie’s talented galloper Rivarine doesn’t help the cause.
The 1000m feature hosts a capacity field of speed merchants – Golden Man makes the cut after the scratching of Rivarine off his reserve berth – and with Gary Alexander, who trained the legendary Tommy Hotspur, saddling topweight Champagne Haze, the scene is set for a possible romantic twist to proceedings.
But the dash will be over in under a minute with no quarter expected or given, and the happy romantic stories will take a backseat to the quest for dominance and the power of pace. The underfoot conditions also need to be taken into account.
The 7yo Greasepaint ran a cracker in the Lebelo – he holds Mujallad on that run – and maintained his form at the Vaal last time with a staying on third behind the speedy Wrecking Ball.
Argonaut 4yo Clever Guy looks quite nicely in at best but has only run once in eight months, when dropping out after showing pace at the Vaal last time. He should improve on that.
Former SA top-rated speedster Talktothestars returns from an unsuccessful raid on the Diadem and Cape Flying Championship down South. The ten-time winner has not won in ages but runs off a 103 – some way down from his lifetime peak of 121. If he arrives in a good space, he could mow this lot down with a late effort.
Splendid Garden was beaten 1,25 lengths by Mujallad at his penultimate start and meets the De Kock youngster on 2kg better terms. The speedy 6yo is edging back to his better form and strips a fit galloper with a weight that could see him fighting for a cheque.
The top-weighted Gr2 Senor Santa Stakes winner Champagne Haze has not won in close on a year and looks to have it all to do on his current form.
Clint Binda’s 3yo Whorly Whorly carries a handy 52kgs and ran a decent fourth in the Lebelo Sprint – but meets Splendid Garden on a kilo worse terms.
The 5yo Pure Blonde ran 6th in this race last year but has maintained a consistent line of form and will strip fit today.
Gokhan Terzi’s Tandava ran on strongly to win a Vaal 100m handicap last time where he beat the 3yo Rebel’s Champ. His earlier form suggests that he may battle with the step up in class,
The 4yo Sporting Monarch has proven consistent with some decent showings to class sprinters. He meets Tandava on 2kgs better terms for a length beating last time and should strip fitter as he ran there after a four month break.
Angel’s Power made a respiratory noise when unplaced in the Lebelo Sprint. An in and out sort at best, he does run well for Piere Strydom and has a quartet chance.
Eightfold Path 3yo Brigtnumberten is a youngster on the improve and this three-time winner has faced weaker with a good recent run of form. He now goes into deeper waters with 52kgs on his back.
Last year’s winner Wrecking Ball beat Pure Blonde 1,25 lengths last time out but has to cope with a 3kg turnaround in the weights, which could be a stopper. She is a speedball though and always dangerous if things go her way over this trip.
Her stablemate Queen Laurie has lost form recently and doesn’t look likely to threaten.
A tough handicap with the proven brigade taken on a few decent youngsters with scope. Pure Blonde and Talktothestars could be in the firing line. There are a good few in between that could pop up. Go wide in the exotics!