Tread Carefully In PE Today

It's a minefield

Tex - Gavin Lerena

Gavin Lerena captains the SA team – seen with his former top jockey Dad, Tex

The decision to run the first leg of the Racing. It’s A Rush International Jockeys’ Challenge at Fairview in Port Elizabeth today could be a stroke of genius – but it could land up giving form-studiers a stroke by the time they reach the third race.

All the races in this year’s events are handicaps and that always makes it difficult but at least at Turffontein on Saturday there are some higher-rated events where the form is often a lot stronger.

At Fairview these lower level handicaps are always tricky and they will undoubtedly level the playing fields.

There we will be four Challenge races on each raceday in which six South African riders, led by Gavin Lerena, will take on a group of international riders, captained by Hayley Turner. The balance of the SA team comprises Anton Marcus, Anthony Delpech, S’manga Khumalo and Greg Cheyne, while joining Turner are Franco da Silva (Brazil), Pat Cosgrave (Ireland), Robert Havlin (Scotland), Eduardo Pedroza (Panama) and Aurelien Lemaitre (France).

At Fairview Races 5 and 8 will be run on the turf while Races 6 and 7 will take place on the Polytrack.

According to colleague Trevor Reid, Robert Havlin, riding for the internationals, could draw first blood in Race 5 at Fairview with Pipette. The drop to 1000m will be no problem as the five-year-old races handily and has a turn of speed.

The second Challenge race looks a close affair. Zander (Marcus) and Thayer (Cheyne) have decent chances for the locals, although Fashion Scout (Turner) and National King (Cosgrave) are not without winning claims.

In the third leg Briar King (Lemaitre) is best drawn but tends to be slow out the pens so may battle to make use of his draw. The South African team have drawn well, with Mambo Italiano (Cheyne) and D’vash (Delpech), and both horses have to be considered.

Greg Cheyne - man to follow

Greg Cheyne – man to follow

The four with the best form in the final race, Soleil Royal (Pedroza), On My Wits Alone (Cheyne), Jay Radical (Lerena) and Red Scimitar (Khumalo), all have deep draws to overcome. This might allow King Of The Castle (Turner) to go off on one of his start-to-finish missions.

However, the South Africans looks to have a clear advantage at Turffontein and Cheyne, making his debut in the International Jockeys’ Challenge, looks the man to follow.

He should win the first leg aboard Virtuality and could strike in Leg 3 aboard Cassie O’Malley. Delpech could assist the SA team’s cause aboard Majestic Bay in Leg 2 and team captain Lerena could have the best ride of the event in Race 9 – Leg 4 – where he is aboard the lightly raced Polly Wolly Doodle.

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