Hollywoodbets Scottsville is the lead venue on the local weekend racing programme with the only feature carded countrywide.
The R120 000 UmThombothi Stakes is an all-horses conditions race contested over the Capital City track’s 1950m and hosts a competitive mixed bag line-up.
The statistical guru’s may be pondering the fact that the corresponding meeting last year was washed out and then held in blazing sunshine at the same track four days later.
But positive thoughts rule with the weather forecast suggesting temperatures in the mid-30’s and some cloud cover. So we are not even going to contemplate delays or switches.
Of more interest is that last year’s smart winner Marchingontogether – together with his runner-up stablemate Blackball – is back to defend his title under regular pilot Warren Kennedy.
The son of Pathfork has probably not achieved the heights expected of him, although his programme shows – take the SA Derby and Charity Mile excursions – that a few people connected feel he is better than what he has shown. That said, he will need to up his game after four ordinary efforts – two with excuses, to be fair. He could easily find his feet with some luck from the pole position gate, so include him in a race where the pace could play into his hands.
His year older stable companion Blackball has shown better recent form but carries 3kgs more than he did in this race last year when chasing Marchinontogether home and beaten three quarters of a length. He finished 12 lengths ahead of the same horse in the Michael Roberts Handicap and even the 7kgs worse off now, is probably not enough to turn the tables.
The Noble Tune grey White Lightning is the first of the Paul Lafferty trio. He has the blinkers removed at his first run after gelding and returns from a short break of ten weeks. On his better earlier form he would have an undeniable chance of earning and was even rated as a classic prospect in the early days.
Stablemate Our Coys seems to have lost form but should improve a bit at his second run after a break.
Dark Moon Rising has yet to recapture his form since going unplaced in the Gold Cup last term. At his best he would have a shout, but pulled up lame after the Michael Roberts Handicap and looks to have his issues.
The Hollywood Syndicate have been in prime form and their 4yo Seattle Force makes his KZN debut on Sunday – he will be ridden by Anton Marcus ho subs for Marco van Rensburg. The son of Mambo In Seattle loves to race up with the gallop and ran a really smart race last time, when despite not being able to find the front early, he finished right on top of accomplished performers Hero’s Honour and Divine Odyssey. From the positive draw, he could make them gallop here.
Ella’s World is the only filly in the race and looks to have it all to do.
Paths Of Victory has drawn wide. but is a fair sort who could assert his authority. But he likes to go up there and the fight up front could end up playng into the hands of the wait-and-see brigade.
Christmas Handicap winner The Dazzler has solid form and is always a consideration if things go his way. There should be little between him and Blackball.
Gallant 7yo Wealthy didn’t enjoy the all-weather last time when defending his title in the Michael Roberts Handicap. He is at home at this track and is worth including in bigger permutations.
Like Wealthy, the 7yo Silver Rose seems better on the turf and faded late behind G G’s Dynasty in the Michael Roberts Handicap last time. His duel out front with Seattle Force and others, should make for an interesting tactical sub plot.
The two 3yo’s Twice Golden and Great Warrior run off a 51kg joint bottomweight.
Twice Golden appears to enjoy Scottsville and followed up on his maiden win with a rattling good effort over 2400m in an MR 82 Handicap last time. If he is not run off his feet, he would have a place chance here.
Suzette Viljoen’s Great Warrior only has his third start and comes in straight out of a Hollywoodbets Greyville polytrack score. He is difficult to assess.
In a race where there seems to be some reasonable pace merchants ready to strut their stuff, we are siding with Marchingontogether and Seattle Force to fight it out, with quartet scope for Blackball and The Dazzler.