Against The Grain – Vaal Thursday

We are back on the Vereeniging sand surface

Precursor streaks clear to win well (JC Photos)

Precursor can return to winning ways

The news that the Vaal sand track has just over two months left before it is replaced with turf has been greeted with a mixture of shock and relief. Given the recent troubled history, the move is an assertive decision in principle. But one can only wonder what input the owners and trainers of the proven sand performers had in the decision.

Maybe we will see increased field sizes and a revival in Kimberley –  but then stakes in that region will need to be revisited. They race for R46 000 in a maiden race in the Northern Cape and almost double that at the Vaal.

Emerald Out

After the announcement of the R1 885 000 Super Supreme Series, a sand Triple Crown that comprises the R135 000 World Sports Betting Sprint which is run over 1000m at Flamingo Park next Saturday, and followed by the R250 000 Gr3 August Stakes at Vaal on 29 August, culminating in Africa’s richest sand race, the newly named R1 million Gr2 Supreme Cup on 26 September, there must be many who have been caught wrong- footed with the announcement last week.

And what happens to the old Emerald Cup, with its brand new sponsors?

The overall decision is apparently the first step to the installation of a synthetic surface at Turffontein – no time frames have been provided in this regard.

Class Speedsters

But for now we are back on the Vereeniging sand surface this Thursday, where eight runners go to post for the R105 000 Conditions Plate, where Doing It For Dan and Precursor stand out in the 1000m straight contest.

Doing It For Dan_t20150101_web

Louis Goosen’s Doing It For Dan – big danger

Both Precursor and the consistent topweighted Doing It For Dan, have commendable track and trip form.

Precursor enjoys the full value 1,5kg claim of in-form apprentice Callan Murray and this speedy son of Captain Al is a fiery and pacy galloper, who never quite got into it last time when a 5,60 lengths fourth to surprise winner Capricorn Ridge over the 1200m.

Precursor was only 2,40 lengths behind the high-class Trip Tease, and if allowed to escape in this field, he may prove a tough customer to peg back – especially as the 200m shorter is his game.

Just Do It

Trainer Louis Goosen and jockey Piere Strydom bring Doing It For Dan back to the sand and will have a line through his relative merits with Trip Tease.

The son of Windrush simply doddled in last time on the turf 1100m at Turffontein, beating the high-quality galloper Whiteline Fever .

On his last sand outing, he was beaten 12 lengths by Precursor in receipt of 4kgs – so has some ground to make up on Thursday. He has matured into a serious speed merchant and Striker will give him every chance.

The second of the Goosen runners is the Carpocrates gelding Wishful Heart, who was a well beaten 12 lengths behind Capricorn Ridge at his last outing, after being cramped and dropping out.

He won a lower rated handicap at his penultimate start, but will have to pick up his feet to trouble the top two in this field.


Tiger Ridge colt Isphan storms clear to win Protea Stakes

Tiger Ridge colt Isphan storms clear to win Protea Stakes earlier on – needs to improve again

Mike Azzie trained Isphan comes back to the sand after being outclassed in three runs in feature company down in KZN.

A dual course and distance winner, he will have plenty of pace, but looks held by Precursor.

Mike De Kock’s beautifully bred Australian 4yo pairing of Mootahadee and Masnoon are both winners on the surface but are returning from breaks.

Mootahadee shed his maiden on the Greyville polytrack, and after two Vaal 1200m sand wins and some credible collateral to the likes of Tiger Territory and Across The Ice, looks the stronger of the pair.

Stan Ferreira’s Salute The Sun is a consistent 6yo but was beaten just under 3 lengths by Precursor last time and has some ground to make up at these weight terms.

Power Jet has lost his form and has no chance on his current performance levels.

Class To Count

So a small quality field of speedsters where class should count again.

We are going to side with Precursor to hold on long enough to beat Doing It For Dan, with Isphan improving after his quiet spell to grab some place money.

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