Games Of War

R80 000 Pinnacle Stakes, at Arlington on Monday

Drill Sargeant

Off To War. The smart Dynasty stayer Drill Sargeant looks ready to resume his winning ways again

The smart Dynasty gelding Drill Sargeant gets the opportunity to regain his title as one of the top stayers in the Eastern Cape when he runs in a 2700m Pinnacle Stakes at Arlington on Monday. The 4yo was only beaten by a lack of pace last time out, and his young trainer starts with a contingency plan this time in the form of a pacemaker.

We go into a fortnight break from the staple Monday diet of Flamingo Park and a well patronised eight race programme awaits our ardent punting fans at a time of the month that hopefully sees many with a positive cash flow, and thus also the possibility of appetising exotic pools.

Leading Lady

Trainer Tara Laing has emerged as one of the country’s top female conditioners in an admittedly not overpopulated sector of the industry. The Jooste dedicated trainer down the Windy City way was caught off side by a muddling dawdle in the Lakeside Handicap that saw Drill Sergeant outpaced late by a low flying Solo Flight that held him to a half length.

We don’t that will happen again here and the R170 000 National Yearling Sale purchase looks in line to strengthen his balance sheet. Jockey Andrew Nienaber teams up again with Solo Flight here, but the pair may have to prepare for a crash landing with their feet back on Mother Earth as he finds himself 3kgs worse off with Drill Sergeant.

Ms Lang has also included a potential pacemaker to ensure a true run affair for her little star in the form of the former Joey Ramsden trained 2011 Gr3 East Cape Derby winner Vengence.

Tough Going

Cape Town

Revitalised. Cape Town bounced back to better form last time with a gutsy win and could challenge again

Unfortunately the Black Sam Bellamy gelding has never managed another win since that memorable day in his career, but produced his best in a long time when going down narrowly to Cape Town over the Fairview 2400m in an MR 79 Handicap last time out. He is 1,5kgs better off with Cape Town, but his chances of running on true merit may be negated by the demands of his pace duties. Only time will tell.

Drill Sargeant’s breeders Carl and Amanda De Vos are enjoying a purple patch with their home bred winners of late, and their half brother to Gr2 Gold Circle Oaks and Gold Cup runner up Princess Of Light (by Var), out of the Foveros mare Star Of Arcole, goes for his seventh win from just 23 starts.

As a winner over the distance, albeit at Fairview, he definitely stays the trip and is partnered by his regular pilot Nooresh Juglall, who will fly into PE fresh off the high of Turffontein Champions Day 48 hours earlier.


Alan Greef’s 8yo October Club is joint topweight with Drill Sargeant, and this winner of 12 races from 70 starts is still capable of putting a good effort together. He has not won since mid November, but with his forward freestyle manner of galloping is always capable of running into the places.

Shock Lakeside Handicap winner Solo Flight takes a big jump up in the weights and still needs to prove that he actually goes this far. He will find this a lot more demanding than his last performance.

Strydom also saddles Key Castle, who enjoys the services of a 4kg claiming apprentice, and ran on quietly for a close up fifth in the Lakeside Handicap. As a former East Cape Gold Cup winner, he stays every inch of the 2700m.

Smith Trio

Gavin Smith sends out a three way coupling of Jervis, Velocity One and Mucho Gold. In terms of pure numbers the coupling will justify Pick Six inclusion, but all three appear more optimistic consideration than genuine value. Trainer Mitch Wiese has entered a trio including the 8yo Cape Town, the game MR 92 rated mare Inca’s Spirit and the rather moderate Whink.

Cape Town bounced back last time to beat Vengence narrowly in that MR 79 Handicap over 2400m. That was his first win in over a year and this well travelled Silvano gelding has fallen off the ladder of potential fame since running unplaced behind the ill fated Big City Life in the 2009 Vodacom Durban July. He appears to stay quite ably and while, on the face of it,is not well in here, could start regaining some of his lost pride and form at this late stage.


Inca’s Spirit has won 8 of 38 starts, and ran fourth 1,35 lengths behind Drill Sargeant in the Lakeside Handicap last time out, and meets him on 4kgs better terms. The Silvano mare is always thereabouts and capable of matching strides with the males.

Grant Paddock’s Ice Flag ran on for third in the Lakeside Handicap and was only shaded by Drill Sargeant. He is 1,5kgs worse off and was also reported to have made a respiratory noise there.

Confident Choice

Tara Laing’s good gelding Drill Sargeant is confidently expected to revert to his winning ways and bank the first cheque. The stampede behind him is likely to include the revitalised Cape Town, Inca’s Spirit and the old man Key Castle. The race is wide open beyond our top selection.

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