The highest purses on offer in midweek are those put aside for handicaps at Flamingo Park and the Vaal. Of most interest at Thursday’s Vaal meeting is a MR88 event where thirteen go to post.
Shouldering topweight is the 3yo Silvano filly Malaga-Belle. One of three runners from the in form stable of Dominic Zaki, Malaga-Belle has won two of her four starts over 1000m at the Vaal, and having finished a runner up in the other two, she is clearly at her best here.
Interestingly, champion jockey hopeful Gavin Lerena has ridden all three of Dom’s runners recently and he is aboard Rodeo Dandy. At the top of his game prior to taking on stronger in his latest two outings, this son of Casey Tibbs has won two of his last four starts over today’s course and distance. He should go well.
With Anthony Delpech having been booked to ride Oh Driscoll it would suggest that he too has claims. He’s usually seen out over further, but interestingly, he did gain his latest win against stronger over today’s distance.
The biggest coupling in the race is that of Leon Erasmus. He saddles all of Second World, Maji Moto, Baron Of Breedon and Blue Nile. The 5yo Maji Moto has not been the most consistent of performers of late, but he has gained three of his five career victories over 1000m on turf and stable jockey Sherman Brown takes the ride.
The highest rated of Leon’s quartet is Second World. This son of Second Empire has won three times over 1000m on turf, but the latest of those was way back in Sept ’10, and he is racing off a six point higher mark here. He was finishing best of all when only beaten three quarters of a length by his stable companion Baron Of Breedon last time out though and he is now 1,5kg better off at the weights with that one.
Baron Of Breedon
After failing to find the winner’s enclosure in nine starts during 2011, the 4yo Baron Of Breedon suddenly took off at the beginning of this year and has now won three in a row. He was backed all the way in to 11/2 from 14/1 when beating five of today’s opponents over this trip last time out and clearly on the upgrade, he should fight it out again.
The 5yo Blue Nile has not won since landing a MR76 Handicap over today’s trip way back in Jun ’10, and having failed to fill a place in the Quartet in each of his last five outings he is not easy to fancy.
The highest rated of Paul Matchett’s two runners is the 3yo son of Lecture Gulf King. He would look to have little chance on his three latest efforts, but he did win three times over 1000m when formerly with Grant Paddock in the Eastern Cape, and as a juvenile he was thought good enough to contest the East Cape Nursery.
The Western Winter colt Saint Pierre also contested feature events as a juvenile, and most notably finished fourth in the 2010 Gauteng Nursery. He’s capable of making a bold effort here on best form, but since picking up a MR74 handicap over today’s course and distance in Nov ’10, he’s failed to find the winner’s enclosure in eleven starts on turf.
The 3yo Carlito Brigante finished runner up in the Storm Bird Stakes a year ago and at that stage of his career he looked to have a very bright future ahead of him. Since returning from a five month break following a period of lameness though, he’s battled to find his form. His only win coming in a graduation event.
Nine Tail Cat
After beating winners on debut, the 3yo Nine Tail Cat then ran a fair fifth in the Gauteng Nursery last season. He’s now without a win in nine starts though and having been unable to finish better than eighth in his two latest outings, he is not easy to fancy here.
Although the former Cape Town campaigner Kayhaladin has run some fair races in defeat over 1000m, he has not won over a trip this short this shedding his maiden tag in Feb ’09. Kayhaladin has in the main been taking on stronger since relocating to Gauteng, but he is now without a win in ten starts since changing centres.
Although Goldstream has only managed to win three of his 27 starts, he does show good pace on his day. Prior to this event though, he hasn’t raced in anything greater than a MR77 handicap on turf.
About The Pace
With most preferring to race up with, or close to the speed, the pace looks sure to be on. In what is clearly a very competitive event, trainers Leon Erasmus and Dominic Zaki could well hold the key. Second World gets my vote, but not with the greatest of confidence.