Looking For Lady Luck

Gr3 Three Troikas Stakes at Turffontein on Saturday

Winter Star

Fitter. The smart Winter Star could get back in to winning ways on Saturday (JC Photos)

The 3yo filly crop in Gauteng are a high quality bunch as a group this year. The field that lines up in Saturday’s R250 000 Gr3 Three Troikas Stakes is as open as they come and the draw and luck in running should play a major role in the outcome of the 1450m event.

The draw is obviously the starting point literally and figuratively, particularly over this distance and track, and that filter could swing things for or against inclusion. Fitness questions and a lack of exposure, as in the case of De Kock’s smart grey Santa Carolina, at stakes level, add to the puzzle.

Poor Draw

The worst off is the highest rated filly in the race. Ormond Ferraris’ Gr3 Gauteng Fillies Mile winner Close The Gap comes in at gate 15 and has not run for ten weeks since beating Athina so readily. A winner of 3 of her 4 starts, Close The Gap is very classy but may not be at anything like peak fitness, for what is a launching pad to bigger things in the season ahead.

Ready To Run

Fitness should not be a major factor with Johan Janse Van Vuuren’s Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup winner Winter Star, who has had a pipe opener sprint. She ran seven lengths behind Virgo’s Babe in the Listed Swallow Stakes two weeks back and is bound to have come along with that run, although she is only two doors in from Close The Gap at the jump.

Sean Tarry saddles a duo of For The Lads and Olive Leaf. The Gr1 Golden Slipper winner For The Lads will be ridden by Piere Strydom but comes off a ten week break after pulling up lame after the Gauteng Fillies Mile. Her form was a trifle wayward in the lead up there and she now needs to show that she has trained on.

The Jet Master filly Olive Leaf was a well backed maiden winner over the Vaal 1200m a fortnight ago and has drawn well at 3. She has a lovely handy galloping weight on her back and could just about be anything.


Mike De Kock sends out the unbeaten grey Tiger Ride filly Santa Victoria. Hailing from the famous Wilgerbosdrift ‘Ilha’ family, she has won both her starts over 1400m in assertive workmanlike fashion, and could well step up here.

Delpech rides her from a modest 9 draw, but she has shown enough ability to be dropped in and allowed to run on. In the same silks, the Fort Wood filly Athina sees Sean Cormack and trainer Joey Soma teaming up. She comes off a pipe opening sprint and while held on paper by Close The Gap, she could produce a good turn of foot.

Woodruff Trio

Geoff Woodruff is in good form and he saddles a nice trio, including the well tried Pretty Polly Stakes winner, Arcetri Pink. The daughter of Rock Of Gibraltar again tries the turn but appears held by Winter Star on her Ready To Run Cup effort. She appeared a little outpaced in the Swallow Stakes and stayed on for a moderate fourth. She may be ready to try a bit of ground again and it should be noted that she is highly thought of.

Raymond Danielson rides the Trippi filly Not Sulking, who won her second race from five starts last time. She is not well drawn but won going away beating the capable Lizzy Grey and could have more improvement to come. The third of the Woodruff runners is the Aussie bred daughter of Stratum , Ntombe, who was slow off before running unplaced last time in a low key fillies conditions plate.


The Gr3 Starling Stakes winner Sarasota is drawn best of all at 1 but has run unplaced twice since her career peak day. She will need to improve on her unplaced run behind Santa Carolina last time out in an MR 88 Handicap, and looks well held by the De Kock runner.

Speedy Sort

Diane Stenger saddles the Swallow Stakes runner up Samba Serenade. The daughter of Joshua Dancer has drawn at 10 and shows terrific pace. That asset could help her overcome the obstacle, but she will need to have plenty in reserve to hold the big guns who will be firing late.

Roy Magner’s Julie Doolittle gets her stakes chance and has run three fair races after winning on debut. She will have to improve though. Wallace Tolmay’s Kings V and Barend Botes’ She’s A Looker(formerly with Vaughan Marshall) both fall into the hopeful category. They have each won one race and will need to lift their games dramatically to challenge.

Class Counts

Close The Gap and For The Lads appeal as the proven class, with the lingering doubt about the enigmatic Arcetri Pink clouding the picture. Winter Star is bound to strip fitter and she is highly rated by all those connected with her. De Kock’s Santa Carolina has done little wrong and we will know how good she is after this race. There is not much to choose between the rest.

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