A Festive Cheer Today

SA horseracing back on Monday - Pick 6 starts in 3rd at 14h00 - Est Pool: R1,7 million

History shows that the R250 000 Gr3 Christmas Handicap to be run at Greyville on Boxing Day today is no brightly wrapped gift for punters.

In fact the handicapper does such an outstanding job that with the last five year’s winners arriving at odds of 50/1, 12/1 (twice), 10/1 and 7/1, who could possibly be looking for a banker?

It Is Written wins the Christmas Handicap in 2015

Tis the season of giving but attempting any exotic bet economy in this eleven horse contest could be tantamount to throwing hard-earned rands down the drain.

The handicapper distinguishes himself year in and year out in this race and he could pull another trick out of the bag on Monday.

Last year’s runner-up Stormy Eclipse will be a popular choice to deliver the presents in 2016 with the ever reliable regular pilot Anton Marcus back in the irons.

Stormy Eclipse (down inside) was runner up last year

The grey son of Dynasty is very consistent and ran contrary to his usual style last time when going handy and staying on for third and 2,75 lengths behind Budapest over the Scottsville 1500m.

He meets the Van Zyl runner on a kilo better terms over a more favourable trip, and will probably be effective if ridden quietly off a decent gallop.

Sean Tarry

Sean Tarry – good coupling

Sean Tarry saddles two good 4yo’s in Lunar Approach and the nicely weighted, Rikitikitana.

The latter, a son of Toreador, has held his form well in his last three starts and will enjoy a reversion to the turf track. Lyle Hewitson takes the ride.

Stablemate Lunar Approach has not been far off them recently and this once highly regarded 3yo, who ran a smashing third in the inaugural Grand Heritage, could be a serious contender in the hands of S’manga Khumalo.

Alyson Wright’s Mr Roy has shown himself to be more than capable of holding his own and there will be little between him, Budapest and Stormy Eclipse.

This well bred son of Western Winter has drawn beautifully at 1 and has the form that suggests a win is not far off.

Top weighted Celtic Captain cannot be ignored

Gareth van Zyl has made a good start to his training career and topweight Celtic Captain will always be a special horse – being his first feature winner when scoring in the Listed Michaelmas Handicap at his last start.

He is as much as 2kgs worse off with Ashton Park for a half length beating last time, but has good form on this surface and cannot be disregarded.

There should also be very little to choose between his stablemate Budapest and Mr Roy on their last meeting.

Budapest has drawn wider than preferred but appears to be more committed with the pacifiers fitted and is a dangerous front-runner when on song.

Jockey Derryl Daniels rides Ashton Park

Derryl Daniels makes a welcome return this Christmas to ride Ashton Park for Candice Bass-Robinson.

The son of Battersea Park has drawn poorly and has only 1 win to his credit in over two years of racing.

He has run some good races in top company and must have a chance if bringing his best show to races.

Dean Kannemeyer’s 6yo Giant’s Causeway gelding Capel Top is a seven time winner from 27 starts and was walloped 6 points for a smooth course-and-distance win at his last start.

He comes in with a handy galloping weight of 52kgs, and could challenge for the places if maintaining his form.

Veteran Andrew Fortune makes a trip down to Durban to ride the rather disappointing Black Minnaloushe gelding Sylvester The Cat for Duncan Howells.

A winner at Scottsville in July, he has produced two quiet runs and may be more comfortable on thses handicap terms. He will have to improve though.

Frank Robinson will be looking for a form return from Great Rumpus

The Frank Robinson-trained Great Rumpus returns from a 25 week break.

The 7yo’s form tapered negatively during the SA Champions Season and he is another who may be more competitive in this more modest off-season handicap company.

That said, he will need more to challenge for the cheques.

Kumaran Naidoo saddles the former Aiden O’Brien and Paul Lafferty-trained USA bred Royal Navy Ship, a son of War Front, who has his third SA start.

His progress in this country has probably not been quite as intended with his scheduled run in the Gr 2 Peermont Emperor’s Palace Charity Mile failing to materialise.

His only career win came on debut in October 2014 where he beat 21 other two-year-olds over 1400m at the Curragh in yielding conditions. He did run a Gr3 placing.

He looks likely to need 2000m to show his best and cannot exactly be regarded a threat in this field.

In a weekend of celebration and some permissible overindulgence, we have to suggest caution in this field.

Stormy Eclipse has the form to run them down and showed his paces in the same event last year.

The enthusiastic Rikitikitana has 5,5kgs in hand and will be finishing with zeal as he always does.

It doesn’t end there with Mr Roy and Celtic Captain snapping at their heels.

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