Here’s A Pick 6 Banker

Heavenly Blue will be a popular bet

The R2 million Gr1 SA Derby balance of power may have swung slightly in Sean Tarry’s favour in recent years, but the senior masters  Mike de Kock and Geoff Woodruff can never be written off.  All three could have a say in the 2017 renewal.

Flashback – Royal Bencher and Pomodoro

The three wise men have a stranglehold over what is a disappointingly small field for the third leg of the SA Triple Crown at Turffontein on Saturday.

Since De Kock saddled the champion Horse Chestnut to win the race in 1999, he won it again in 2004 (Greys Inn), 2009 (Bouquet Garni) and in 2010 with Irish Flame.

Woodruff, who saddles improving Derby Trial winner Pagoda on Saturday, has a great Derby record – winning it with Badger’s Drift (2001), Yard Arm (2003), Elusive Fort (2006), Ravishing (2007) and most recently with Triple Crown star Louis The King in 2014.

Tarry is the relative new kid on the block, scoring with Legal Eagle in 2015 and Klawervlei stallion Pomodoro in 2012.

De Kock saddles the SP top-rated Heavenly Blue, a magnificent grey son of the talking Aussie sire Snitzel.

Snitzel’s son Heavenly Blue wins the Gr1 SA Classic

Callan Murray, who piloted Heavenly Blue to a breathtaking success in the SA Classic last time has been given the job of bringing the colt home again.

Murray, when chatting to us after the SA Classic, said of the Vodacom Durban July ante-post favourite: “He is getting stronger and fitter with every run. I am so excited as he will just be a better horse over the 2450m of the SA Derby.”

With that sort of confidence, should we looking anywhere else but for De Kock to win all three legs of the Triple Crown?

Sean Tarry – always a factor

SA Classic runner-up Al Sahem will be Sean Tarry’s spearhead but the son of Silvano was conclusively beaten by the De Kock grey and looks to have it all to do.

He only has his fifth career start and it is conceivable that he also has plenty of improvement to come.

The Tarry second-stringer Furiosa found the Guineas on the sharp side but ran on steadily over the extra for third and 3,30 lengths off Heavenly Blue in the SA Classic.

The son of Fastnet Rock is out of a Woodman mare and could be very effective over the extra ground.

Geoff Woodruff’s Derby Trial winner Pagoda looks a decently progressive son of Mogok and goes for his hat-trick of wins.

A bargain R100k buy, the Varsfontein bred has some leeway to make up at the weights on his official rating (92), but the 2450m is a great leveller and he could surprise them.

The rest look to be making up numbers.

Paul Peter’s King Of Blues is a son of The Sheik and appears to stay quite well.

Unexposed at feature level to date, the Scott Bros-bred colt has only won once in seven starts and looks to need a massive amount of improvement to feature here on what he has shown so far.

Gareth van Zyl (photo: Gold Circle)

Gareth van Zyl – outside hopes

As in the Premier’s Champions Challenge, Gareth van Zyl saddles the only visitor in the Captain Al gelding, Captain At Sea.

His participation here was no doubt motivated by the solid improvement shown when he tried over ground at his last start.

He beat a weakish MR 74 Handicap field and will need to be at his very best to challenge the top four at his first visit to Gauteng.

It is not often that we will see a son of sensational speed sire Var lining up in a Derby but Robbie Sage is a veteran of the training ranks and he tries Okavango Delta over serious ground for the first time.

This well bred gelding is out of the 2012 Gr2 Gold Bowl winner Gorongosa, an Irish-bred daughter of 1999 Arc winner and outstanding sire Montjeu. If Okavango Delta enjoys ground like his good Mum did, he may yet improve.

He does look well held though by Pagoda, who is 4kgs better off for a 7,60 length walloping of him in the Derby Trial last month.

Philanthropist’s son Lee’s Pick travelled down to the Greyville poly at his penultimate run to win his maiden over a mile and then shocked at 40-1 when running a cracking second to Pagoda in the Derby Trial.

We note that his dam won over 1200m but if that Derby Trial run was no flash in the pan, he could be much better than his earlier form suggested.

Callan Murray has taken the bone thrown him by the De Kock team with both hands and riding the best horse in the race, the outcome looks a formality on paper.

Al Sahem, Pagoda and Furiosa should contest the paces in what is headed for the smallest quartet payout on Champions Day.

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