Gary Alexander will be keen to repeat the Azzie – Hawaii Stakes emotional high of a few weeks ago when he saddles a pair of runners – including last year’s winner The Elmo Effect – in Saturday’s R150 000 Listed Drum Star Handicap at Turffontein.
The Alexander family racing team have fond memories of Drum Star, who gave them some memorable performances almost two decades back, and they will be hoping for a double in the race named in honour of their champion.
That said, they don’t boast the most in-form 6yo duo in 2017 winner The Elmo Effect and stable companion, Top Shot.
The Elmo Effect has not made a sparkling start to 2018 with three uninspiring runs – finishing an aggregate of 46 lengths back. Sherman Brown gets the opportunity to raise the son of Admire Main’s game but he has some ground to make up after he was not persevered with in the Aquanaut last time.
One has to go back ten months to find stablemate Top Shot’s last success and he falls into a similar category to The Elmo Effect after running 14 lengths behind Shenanigans last time. The latter holds him on that.
Recent Listed Wolf Power Handicap winner Arctica ran second to The Elmo Effect last year but looks a decent bet to reverse that defeat. Piere Strydom rides the son of Captain Al, who carries top-weight but meets the Alexander galloper on the same terms as 2017. He was beaten 6 lengths by Fareeq last time and meets the De Kock galloper on a kilo better terms.
Anthony Delpech rides the first of the De Kock trio in Secret Captain, who was backed to win last time – but got pipped by stablemate Fareeq in the shadow of the post. Formerly with Duncan Howells, the grey 4yo has shown improvementat all of his four Gauteng starts and one gets the impression that his top rider would have learnt from that last experience.
St John Gray’s Dawn Assault features high on our ratings and ran a cracker when grabbed late by top filly Orchid Island over the course and distance last time out. The 4yo has run four decent races and will be primed for a big effort.
Sean Tarry’s pair of Pilou and Lyle Hewitson’s recordbreaker Shenanigans would both have a shout at best.
Pilou has a second run after a rest and would have needed it last time when fading out to 8 lengths off Full Mast. He tries the trip for the first time and can challenge.
The lightly raced Shenanigans has won 3 of 6 starts and steps up in class after giving Lyle Hewitson a memorable recordbreaker, winning at the Vaal last Tuesday.
Chepardo has been on the fringes at his last three outings since winning two on the trot. This smart 6yo must have a decent chance of earning and holds the likes of Fareeq on his last run.
Fareeq was a surprise victor last time out over stablemate Secret Captain with a sweetly timed rails run by jockey Muzi Yeni – who rides him again. He is a half kilo worse off with his stablemate but it is unlikely that Anthony Delpech will be caught napping again.
The 6yo Kilrain is the third of the De Kock trio and has improved since relocating from the Cape at the beginning of this season. The 6yo was left with far too much to do in a puzzlingly run Aquanaut Handicap and drops 600m in trip – a move that may improve his prospects. The fact that Anthony Delpech sides with Secret Captain suggests that Kilrain must rank an outside chance only.
A typically tough handicap where recent form and fitness could give the likes of Secret Captain a chance to register his first win for Mike de Kock. It’s a lucky dip thereafter, with Dawn Assault, Pilou and Arctica serious challengers if things go their way.