The annual Michael Roberts tribute raceday has become an institution at Scottsville – the track at which the champion jockey rode his first winner 51 years ago.
The first jockey to be inducted into the SA Hall Of Fame, Roberts will mark his annual tribute with the nine race Sunday programme, headlined by the R150 000 Listed Michael Roberts Handicap to be run over the 1750m.
The engagement of top jockey Anton Marcus to ride the exciting Pietro Mascagni at his first run in the KZN Capital City is the immediate eyecatcher. The newsmaking son of Silvano, now a gelded and progressive 4yo, was the subject of an early career merit rating appeal and he looks well on his way to making his way through the ranks.
A winner of 3 of 8 starts, he caught the eye at his last outing when staying on well for third after being bumped – and that under a half length off Dawn Assault and Al Danza in the London News Stakes. He enjoys the best of the draw and must go close.
The Australian-bred Sir Bernadini pulled up lame behind at a rare non earning effort last time out and now steps into feature waters. The son of Bernardini has always looked a horse likely to enjoy this kind of trip.
Still a two-time winner after 28 runs, the Trippi mare Dawn Calling inevitably finds something to beat her and now tries some ground. Her dam had form at 2200m and this may be the tonic.
Amor Ardiente is one of the most consistent 4yo’s in the region and has won 3 of his last 7 starts. The crack lightweight Muzi Yeni rides him with a handy galloping weight and this could be the surprise package of the race.
The 3yo Affranchi will need some improvement to feature.
Gauteng visitor Divine Odyssey boasts smart home form and has been thereabouts recently and looks overdue to register a fourth victory. The son of Oratorio enjoys the services of in form SA champion Lyle Hewitson.
The topweighted Dark Moon Rising was outclassed in the July but has been improving nicely this term and finished well for a decent third behind Matador Man in the Christmas Handicap last time.
Blackball has been battling for over a year for his next win and races from the wide draw.
Hero Quest came back to something of his better form last time when going all the way to hold off the late attentions of Silver Rose. Anton Marcus, who was aboard ahis last two wins, has jumped ship in favour of Pietro Mascagni.
The 6yo Wealthy won his penultimate start over 200m at this course and then stayed on steadily to be beaten 2,75 lengths by Hero Quest. He must have a place chance off his handy galloping weight – but has a wide draw to beat.
A decent enough stayer on his day, Techno Captain gets the headgear but looks likely to need more ground to show his best ability.
Now an 8yo, Nicklaus has not been at his best for some time and looks to have a tough task.
All told, it looks a competitive affair but Pietro Mascagni has always looked above average and he is the selection to beat Amor Ardiente, with Divine Odyssey and Dark Moon Rising in the quartet reckoning.
The first of nine races today is off at 12h40.
The false rail is set at 4,5m.
The Ouartet pool in the ninth race at 17h15 is estimated to reach R450 000.