Vaal 20th September: They raced on the sand on Thursday where victory in the opening maiden event over 1450m went to the second favourite RUFFLE. Confidently ridden in this her first try on the surface, Ruffle sat fifth of the eight for most of the journey. The supported outsider HAZELWOOD was the first to make a move and struck the front 300m out. Ruffle was already on her heels at that stage though and when asked for an effort she quickly took command.
There were a number of very easy victories on the card and none more so than that of SAFE HOUSE in the boys maiden 1450m. Sent off a strong favourite at 12/10, Michael Azzie’s charge was soon in touch with the leaders. He made his move going through the 600m and after striking the front 250m later he cruised clear to score by seven and a half.
Another to win by a steeplechase margin was the best bet on the card for many PRESIDIO in the third division of the maiden 1450m. Taken straight to the front by Anthony Delpech the son of National Emblem led throughout. He held just a slender advantage for most of the journey, but once given rein he easily drew clear.
A MR88 Handicap over 1450m topped the bill and in what proved to be a real thriller the favourite EUGENES did the business. Soon at the head of affairs, Eugenes attempted to lead throughout. His stable companion CITY OF BELLS raced second and when that one put his head in front 300m out it looked as if he would have to settle for second. Eugenes rallied gamely when headed though and giving his all in the closing stages of the race he got back up to score by a neck.
Positioned in the rear turning for home, SILVER SPECIALIST ran on best of all in the MR72 Handicap over 2000m and won very comfortably by three and three quarters.
Arlington 21st September: A maiden event over 1000m got proceedings underway in Port Elizabeth on Friday and here victory went to the nibbled at outsider SEA CAPTAIN. Backed into 9/1 from 14’s at the track, the son of Captain Al was soon up handy. He was ridden to lead going through the 400m and comfortably accounted for the running on ISLAND CHAMP by a length and a half.
A maiden event over 1600m was next up and in what proved to be a real thriller victory here went to the most experienced runner in the field, LOVE IS MAGIC. Making his twenty eighth racecourse appearance here, the 5yo son of Indigo Magic raced in midfield during the early part of the race. The friendless GOLLYWOG (16/1 out to 28/1) got first run in the straight and on striking the front 200m from home, he looked to have done everything right. Mike Mclachlan’s charge ran on best of all at the business end of the race though and got up late to score by a neck.
Another tight finish was to be had in the next, a Conditions Plate over 1300m when the well supported favourite LUNAR LEE registered her sixth career victory. Backed into 9/2 from 7/1 prior to the off, the daughter of Victory Moon also came from off the pace. She ran on strongly over the final 400m and under a well judged ride from Wayne Agrella, she got her head in front very close home.
The non-black type Walmer Handicap over 1800m topped the bill and here a major upset was to be had when the rank outsider of the seven horse party ESTELLE landed the spoils. Allowed to drift as if having lost a leg at the track (8/1 out to 20/1), Justin Snaith’s charge sat fifth for most of the journey. The field was always tightly bunched and when asked for her effort coming off the bend, she soon began to make headway. She hit the front shortly after passing the 300m marker and kept on strongly in the closing stages of the race to beat the next least fancied runner SILVAN WIND by three quarters.
SKIPPYJON JONES and PLACIDO both ran on very well from off the pace when first and third respectively in the MR73 Handicap over 1600m.
The nibbled at VAIL was finishing just as well as the winner when running on strongly from the rear to take fourth position in the maiden event over 1800m.
Ready To Rock
Clairwood 22nd September: Racing in Natal on Saturday took place at the garden course where victory in the opening maiden event over 1200m went to the newcomer SINGING RIVER. Nibbled at on course into 11/1 from 14’s, the 3yo son of Windrush raced in midfield during the early part of the race. He made his move going through halfway and comfortably accounted for the pacemaker AFRICA after striking the front 250m from home.
The best bet on the card for many was BALSE in the maiden plate over 1900m, but once again he had to settle for second. Always in touch with the leaders, Balse looked to have done everything right as he moved through to take up the running 100m out, and he did have the rest beaten. Running on stoutly from the back of the field though, SHEKELS finished best of all and despite racing very green he flew up late to score by a neck.
The afternoon’s feature event was a MR82 Handicap over 1600m and here we saw a comfortable victory for the improving Black Minnaloushe filly BLACK IS BLACK. Sent off third in the betting market at 6/1 (op 8’s), Alistair Gordon’s charge was nicely positioned in fifth as the eleven runners turned for home. He was ridden to lead shortly after passing the 200m marker and kept on strongly in the closing stages of the race to beat the 6yo RAISE THE RENT by two and a quarter.
Also worthy of note on this card was the performance of SUNSHINE ROCK in winning the novice 1200m. Sent off a well supported favourite at 8/10, Dennis Drier’s charge was always in command. She led by just a length for most of the journey, but once given rein she quickly asserted her authority. She went on to score with some in hand by four and a quarter and looks to have a very bright future ahead of her.
CATALECTRIC ran on well from the rear when winning the MR74 Handicap over 1200m. Fourth placed MYTHIC WOODS also finished very well from the rear in this race and might well have made a race of it had he not twice been baulked for a run.
Vaal 22nd September: Africa’s richest race on sand the Gr2 Emerald Cup was scheduled to take place at the Vaal on Saturday, but with the last three races on the card unable to be run due to a thunderstorm, the race will now take place on Thursday 27th September.
A MR74 Handicap over 1200m was first up and in what proved to be a real thriller victory here went to the topweight ESCAPE CLAUSE. Set to shoulder 65kg before taking into account Wesley Marwing’s 4kg allowance, Dominic Zaki’s charge raced towards the rear during the early part of the race. He ran on best of all over the final 500m and just as if scripted he got up in the dying strides.
The first of the two listed events to be run was the Emerald Fillies Handicap over 1450m and here we saw a very easy victory for the well supported favourite FORMATION. Backed into 22/10 from 33/10 at the track, St John Gray’s charge was soon positioned close to the speed. She was asked to take up the running as they approached the 600m marker and fairly cruised clear from there onwards to win by seven.
The listed Hampton Handicap over 1000m was next up and in what proved to be a bit of a cavalry charge victory here went to the friendless BE ASSURED. Freely available at 33/1 on the off (op 16’s), Kom Naidoo’s charge raced prominent throughout. He quickened well over the final 400m and in what proved to be another classic finish, he only got the verdict by the narrowest of margins.
The 3yo CONTADOR won the non-black type Sophomore 1000m very easily by nine.
Top speedratings for this weekend include:-
Arlington Race 1: (1) With Passion 15 Race 2: (1) Scented Ash 15 Race 3: (4) Grande Alado 14 Race 4: (10) Fixed Bet 21 Race 5: (6) Gusting 50 (EW) Race 6: (1) Makzoos 75 Race 7: (3) Bishop’s Choice 66 Race 8: (2) Kentucky Express 67 Race 9: (2) I Got You Babe 50 Turffontein Race 1: (2) Pure Honey 20 Race 2: (9) Flag Of France 8 Race 3: (14) Weekend Special 18 Race 4: (5) Regal Stride 24 (NAP*) Race 5: (6) Turkish Delight 83 Race 6: (6) Eugenes 63 Race 7: (5) Silver Ending 36 Race 8: (8) Prince Egor 56 Race 9: (2) Aconcagua 62 Race 10: (14) Bay Princess 27 Clairwood Race 1: (1) Rosie The Rebel 20 Race 2: (1) Prayer Of Praise 26 Race 3: (2) Green Day 64 Race 4: (9) Rocky Bay 85 Race 5: (1) Regal Joy 51 Race 6: (5) Umbrella Thorn 42 Race 7: (7) Zire Special 57 Race 8: (10) Party Rocker 24 Scottsville Race 1: (15) Unique Moment 30 (NAP*) Race 2: (6) Blushing Peter 33 Race 3: (3) Daisy Cutter 36 Race 4: (4) Wooden Gold 33 Race 5: (7) Manjur 41 Race 6: (6) Stellar Season 75 Race 7: (2) National Road 75 Race 8: (6) King Neptune 61 Race 9: (1) Regal Breeze 32 Durbanville Race 1: (2) Lion’s Roar 24 Race 2: (3) Ruby Sunset 28 Race 3: (4) Henry The Fourth 27 (NAP*) Race 4: (4) Red Banner 41 Race 5: (14) Tibisi 50 Race 6: (11) Laptev 46 Race 7: (11) Alpha Lady 62 Race 8: (2) Knock ‘em Out 46 .
Top rated winners last week includedDefeat The Desert won 22/1 Maluti won 15/1 Berrymiller won 13/2 Halfway To Heaven won 9/2 Sabadell won 28/10 Ruffle won 2/1 Trade Emblem won 19/10 Taj Mahal Trip won 12/10 .
Notebook:-Contador (C Laird, Gauteng) Shekels (K Naidoo, KZN) Sunshine Rock (D Drier, KZN) .
FASTEST TIMES(Shown in brackets is the number of races run in each category)
Vaal 20th September Fastest Sprint 1000-1300 (0) No Qualifiers Fastest Middle 1400-1800 (7) Eugenes Fastest Long 1900-3600 (1) Silver Specialist . Arlington 21st September Fastest Sprint 1000-1300 (3) Sea Captain Fastest Middle 1400-1800 (5) Dancinginthedesert Fastest Long 1900-3600 (0) No Qualifiers . Clairwood 22nd September Fastest Sprint 1000-1300 (4) Sunshine Rock Fastest Middle 1400-1800 (5) Black Is Black Fastest Long 1900-3600 (1) Shekels . Vaal 22nd September Fastest Sprint 1000-1300 (5) Be Assured Fastest Middle 1400-1800 (2) Formation Fastest Long 1900-3600 (0) No Qualifiers