The shoeless Promicing Polly, who ran so well against the big names in a Pinnacle last time, looks the one they all have to beat in the itsarush.co.za handicap at Durbanville today.
She didn’t have much chance on the book against the likes of Tevez and Normanz at Kenilworth yet the Mike Stewart-trained mare divided the pair. True, she was receiving plenty of weight but she still ran above her rating and, fortunately for her chance here, the conditions of the race stipulated no rating increase for the placed horses.
“Actually I don’t believe she did run above her form,” says her trainer. “But she is an improving horse and she hasn’t looked back since I found what her problem was.
“She wasn’t striding out on the grass but she would work beautifully on the sand on the beach. Then one day I worked her at low tide (when the sand was firm) and I saw she wasn’t striding properly. The next morning I took the shoes off and she strode out nicely once more.”
Ever since Stewart has raced the mare without shoes and in her last eight starts she has won three times, been second three times and third twice. Sean Cormack, who has won on two of his last three rides on her, is back on board and his mount has already been heavily backed with Betting World, shortening from 12-10 to 8-10.
Stewart, an ever-cheerful 57, was born in London and lived in Ireland and Spain before moving to Cape Town when he was seven. He went back to Europe to learn his trade with Michael Stoute in England, Dermot Weld in Ireland and David Smaga in France. He then spent six years as assistant to Chris Snaith before starting on his own in 1988. His biggest success came with Fire Arch in the 1995 Summer Cup.
He also has a big chance with 16-10 favourite Surruptitious in the 2 400m handicap (race two) even though Cormack’s mount has not raced for over ten weeks.
“He had a break and then his comeback run was cancelled because there were only four runners,” the Noordhoek trainer explains. “But he has had a couple of gallops on the beach, he doesn’t need a lot of work and he should run a great race.”
However marginal preference is the East Cape Derby-bound My World who looks better value at 3-1. “He might just have needed his last run and he has definitely come on since,” reports Stan Elley. “His work is good and he has had a very good preparation for this.”
Good Grace (12-10) is the form choice in the opener but the money has come for Morning Light (18-10 to 11-10 favourite) even though she has been off for four months. “She had a bad cough and it took her a long time to get over it,” says Brett Crawford who doesn’t expect her to be in need of the run. “We have done a lot of work with her.”
Arezzo, yet another fancied Cormack mount, only just failed when stepped up to 2 400m here last time, and could be hard to beat in the shorter Rugby 5 Maiden.