Let’s Make Merry

Gr3 Acacia Handicap - not an easy race

Be Mine Tonight wins at Turffontein on 2015-02-12

Jet Master filly Be Mine Tonight and jockey Khumalo team up for their second win in a row

Favourites have won the black-type Acacia handicap six out of the last ten times, which might lead to the conclusion that the race is anything but a black type handicap. This becomes even more startling considering the runners consist of mostly older fillies and mares, where consistency is never a given.

A stand-out on ratings is Be Mine Tonight, who has four wins and a second to her credit from her last six starts. The Jet Master filly excelled at her most recent outing, over 1400m at the Vaal, when Khumalo got her home by over three lengths from Captain’s Delight. That was a conditions race, where both carried the same weight. Here the winner receives 1.5kg from her victim, so the outcome should be a foregone conclusion. One-race comparisons, however, can be misleading.

On ratings it is evident that Captain’s Delight ran some way below her previous best, while Be Mine Tonight ran a career best rating in our books. The weirdest part is that Be Mine Tonight was dropped by one point by the official handicapper, while Captain’s Delight retained her rating. Both horses have the same riders as when they last met (Strydom vs Khumalo). Are we missing something?

Our race ratings for the rest of the runners are quite close.

Mike De Kock

Mike De Kock

Mike de Kock’s Will I Do has been running over distances from 1450m to 2000m lately. It was over 2000m that the 3yo filly recorded her best rating – last November in the international jockeys race. That was a false run affair, throwing a cloud over the reliability of the rating. Her subsequent runs certainly were rated lower. One of those was a third place to Sprinting Queen over 1450m early in February. There was half a length in it then, and the two again meet at level weights.

Elusive Spirit has raced only three times since winning over this course and distance in January last year. She showed good pace when second to Tamanee in January this year, also over today’s course and distance, starting at 20/1. That suggests she may be back to best here. It seems odd then that Khumalo has taken the ride on Be Mine Tonight, rather than on the Van Niekerk/Tarry filly.

The same owner/trainer combination has two other entries, Enchanted Silk and Amber Orchid. Enchanted Silk’s recent form is somewhat disappointing. Amber Orchid won her second last start over this course and distance in January and deserves preference.
Captain’s Delight’s stable companion Fortitude has shown mostly consistent recent form, running four places in her last four outings. She races here slightly under sufferance with 52kg, but could well place again.

Coby hasn’t raced since August last year. Gary Alexander’s 4yo filly raced over distances from 2000 to 2850m at her last five starts, winning over 2850m last time out. Her form over a mile doesn’t suggest that fireworks should be expected here.

Anthony Delpech

Anthony Delpech

Marie Theresa is a lightly raced Dynasty 3yo, who ran her best rating last November in the Gr3 Fillies Mile (when unplaced). She has had one subsequent run, over 2200m here in January, running below best, as 2/1 favourite. That wasn’t her form, and the earlier effort suggests she’s not without hope here. She’s stable companion to Will I Do, and also to Wisdom Stone, who has the services of Delpech (which might be because the other two carry 52kg, and not because of preference). Wisdom Stone scored twice last December, but her subsequent two runs, both over this course and distance, were a bit below best.

Top weighted Euphoria is in excellent form, following two wins with a career best rating last time out, when third over this course and distance in a conditions race. She’s bound to give a good account of herself, but at the weights has a tough task if our ratings are anything to go by. Euphoria was beaten by Whatalady last time, by two lengths, and giving Whatalady 3kg. The difference is reduced to 1kg here, which in theory brings them close together. Whatalady scored the hattrick last time out, improving dramatically on her previous ratings. Just how good she is this race may tell, but like Euphoria her task looks a tough one.

There are several runners who like to race handy or with the pace, suggesting that a true run race is on the cards. Be Mine Tonight is probably the one to be with. Should she fail, then all of Will I Do, Sprinting Queen, Elusive Spirit and Fortitude have a big chance, rated closely together as they are.

Not an easy race.

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