The R750 000 Grand Heritage stampede of 28 horses down the Vaal 1475m straight on Saturday week looks to be a minefield for punters.
It has attracted a field from all walks of life, and luck in running could be key to the outcome.
Tagged the ‘gallop to glory’ by sectors of the racing media, the non black-type feature has captured the imagination of Joe Public as the field size is unparalleled on our shores, and the equine roulette wheel presents exciting betting opportunities for the brave punter.
While there are no out of province raiders in the final field, the 2018 renewal shows a pleasing diverse mix of local major yards and smaller players.
Mike de Kock has a notably powerful hand with a three-pronged attack of Mujallad, good Saturday winner Pietro Mascagni and Hakeem.
The Australian-bred son of Redoute’s Choice, Mujallad will lump toweight of 62kgs off his 101 rating. The grey is a three-time winner from 12 runs.
Trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren, who won the inaugural running of the race in 2016, is back with a trio of runners – which includes the 2016 winner Irish Pride. Now a formless 6yo, his stablemate and current favourite Mardi Gras is preferred.
The lightly raced 4yo son of Oratorio looks to give Gavin Lerena a 100% sweep in the race after the former SA champion won it in 2016 (for Van Vuuren), and in 2017 for Paul Peter.
One ‘smaller’ stable with a decent hand is Ashley Fortune, who saddles two former Cape-based gallopers in the SP top-rated Rings And Things and Tsitsikamma Dance.
“They are both in prime condition and their preps have gone very well. It is not an easy race or a pushover line-up. But if we don’t want to take on the power players for the big money and features, then what’s the point?” she said, adding that the fact that they were racing on home ground was a small advantage.
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Ashley said that former Bass-Robinson filly Rings And Things has done nothing wrong and was a cracking second to the smart Rose In Bloom at Turffontein last Saturday.
“She was dropped 4 points by the handicapper. We are not complaining. Certainly on best showings she is going to be competitive,” added Ashley.
The race is open to all horses and the final field was formulated by way of invitation from the operator.
To have been considered for inclusion in the final field, every horse nominated had to have at least a minimum of one run from the time of first entry up to and including the time of the final supplementary entry.
Base weights were determined by the handicapper prior to consideration of additional weights for Graded and Listed races. Additional penalties for highest Graded/Listed win in the last 18 months were: Grade 1 3kg, Grade 2 2kg, Grade 3 1kg, Listed 0.5kg.