MR104 Handicap over 1450m at Vaal (sand) on Tuesday
The highest purse on offer in midweek is that put aside for the winner of the MR104 Handicap over 1450m at the Vaal’s sand track on Tuesday, writes Steve Furnish
The course specialist Storm Crossing shoulders top weight.
A winner of seven of his fourteen previous outings on the surface, Storm Crossing goes particularly well over today’s trip. He’s at the top of his game right now and having been drawn in the bush when 3,75 lengths behind his stable companion Burmese Cat in the Listed Highveld Sand Challenge over 1600m here last time out, he did have excuses. This son of Western Winter has a good draw here and looks sure to fight it out.
Stable companion Burmese Cat won the listed Storm Bird Stakes prior to his recent 12 months layoff and at that stage of his career looked to be a top sort in the making. His two starts on turf have both been well below par since his return, but on sand he’s done nothing wrong. He’s drawn widest of the eleven here, and usually one to race handy, that has to count against him. Anthony Delpech does know him well though and if he can get him placed early, he should be involved again.
Although more often than not seen out on turf, the Fort Wood mare Queen’s Bay has an outstanding record at this circuit. Indeed, her only defeat in four starts here came in the prestigious Gr2 Emerald Cup in which she wasn’t particularly well drawn. She’s been coming to hand nicely since her return from a four month break in April as her second placing to the useful Fisani in the Gr2 Gerald Rosenberg Stakes last time out will attest, and now having her third run after the rest here she should be at her peak. She has a very nice draw here, and at her best racing up with the speed, must have serious claims.
The veteran Alimony was completing a four timer when winning the prestigious Gr2 Emerald Cup back in 2008, but amazingly, he’s failed to find the winner’s enclosure in 21 starts since. He has sporadically run some very good races in the interim though, most notably when a runner up in the Emerald Cup again this season. He finished in front of Storm Crossing in that event and he is 3kg better off at the weights with that one here.
The highest rated of Geoff Woodruff’s three runners is the 5yo Norquinco. This son of Orpen showed real promise earlier in his career and he has previously won over today’s course and distance. He was only a short head behind Storm Crossing when they were both beaten by the subsequent Emerald Cup winner Iron Curtain in a pinnacle event in his latest outing on the surface and 6kg better off at the weights here with that one, would clearly be a very serious runner if at best. He does return from a break of eleven months here though. Watch the betting.
Returning from an even longer break is Dealsdunn. He’s been off the track for 15 months. He’s won three of his four starts on today’s surface, his only defeat coming in the non black type Vaal River Handicap back in 2009. His three successes were all gained over further though and he is more than likely just having a warm up here.
In all probability then, the stable elect on the day will be Acrisius. Yet to race on sand, Acrisius hasn’t managed to find the winner’s enclosure since November 2009, but he does nonetheless have some very useful form to his name. He showed his well being when only beaten a length and a quarter over 1200m on his return from a six month break last time out and now back over a more suitable trip could be a threat if taking to the surface.
A winner of the listed Queen Of The Sand Stakes last time out, Paul Matchett’s charge is clearly at the top of her game right now, and she has won three of her nine starts at this circuit. She looks sure to give a good account of herself setting off from gate three, but she is yet to win over a trip shorter than 1600m on the surface and now up against the boys, she won’t find it easy.
Prior to being tried over a mile, this son of Al Mufti had only failed to fill a place in the Trifecta twice in seventeen starts. He hasn’t won in five tries on sand, but again, he has always finished in the first three. He was only touched off in the very last stride in his latest outing on the surface and should be thereabouts again.
Across The Ice
The dark horse of the race is the 4yo Across The Ice. Sean Tarry’s charge has shown flashes of real ability and having been kept in plate races against very good sorts, he could well be better than rated. He was less than six lengths behind Storm Crossing when making his debut on the surface in a pinnacle event over 1000m last time out and he is now 6,5kg better off at the weights with that one.
Having already amassed stake earnings of over R377000, Parlotone has been a tremendous servant to connections. That tally looks sure to increase in the future, but he is stepping up in class here and in under sufferance to boot, he clearly has a very stiff task here.
About The Pace
The speed is usually on over today’s trip and with a number of the runners here preferring to race up with, or close to the action, at least a fair pace should be forthcoming. In command of a nice turn of foot, Storm Crossing is at his very best over today’s course and distance and although on paper there are a few weighted to challenge strongly, he is taken to win.