Johan Janse van Vuuren, a young trainer who has held a licence for just over three years and has saddled 104 winners, is in the hot seat on Gauteng Guineas Day at Turffontein this Saturday.
He has the favourites for both big races – the R1-million Betting World Gauteng Guineas and the R500,000 Wilgerbosdrift Gauteng Fillies Guineas – with Brazuca at 28-10 for the former and stablemate Negroamaro at 7.5-10 for the fillies’ equivalent.
And he has another fancied contender in the Gauteng Guineas in 11-2 fourth favourite New Predator.
Sadly, the 34-year-old won’t be in the country to see his stable stars run because he jets off to Australia on Wednesday night for the Inglis Yearling Sale in Melbourne.
Both Brazuca (bought at that sale) and New Predator are Australian imports.
He believes Negroamaro has the easier task on Saturday because “the fillies’ race looks slightly weaker than the colts’ race”.
Although only a two-time winner, she has always had a big reputation and Madame Dubois, who has beaten her twice in the past, is not in this field.
Negroamaro is much better drawn than in her last race, when flying late and beaten only a head by Madame Dubois in the Three Troikas Stakes. And jockey Anton Marcus, who rode her in that race, will know more about the filly this time.
Neither Brazuca nor New Predator fared overly well in the ballot for starting-gate positions, drawing at Nos 10 and 11 respectively. Janse van Vuuren says he is relying heavily on his jockeys, Marcus on Brazuca and Stuart Randolph on New Predator.
Although New Predator has drifted in the betting – possibly due to an interruption in his preparation before the Tony Ruffel Stakes in which he finished fourth – the young trainer does not believe there is much between his two charges and says: “Things have gone well. They’re looking good. But it’s competitive racing, against good horses. I just hope everything goes well and we get a bit of luck in running.”
Meanwhile, Mike Azzie, trainer of Betting World Gauteng Guineas joint-second favourite Abashiri, and usually the most outspoken of people, has decided to take a different tack on this occasion.
Mike is keeping mum on the chances of his “big horse”.
“I am not talking to the media or Tellytrack,” said Azzie yesterday. “Usually I’m the one who does all the talking and it lands me in trouble so this time I’m going to let the horse do the talking.”