Turning The Tables

Pinnacle Stakes at Vaal on Tuesday


Too Strong. The classy Snowdon looks well weighted and ready to turn the tables on Merhee on Tuesday

It could well be labelled the Senor Santa return match. The two classy sprinters who fought out an exciting duel to that Gr2 R300 000 sprint at Turffontein a month ago, clash again at the Vaal on Tuesday. This is a rare midweek bonus treat and both Snowdon and Merhee will have their supporters.

This trip to Vereeniging will be a little bit like working for charity for the two as the gross stake cheque of the Pinnacle Stakes in which they line up on Tuesday is a rather moderate R115 000. But that pays the bills for a few months and one can still buy plenty of carrots and blankets.

Weight Gain

On the handicap and the weight turnaround of their last meeting, Snowdon undoubtedly looks the right one. Snowdon is consistency personified and hails from the in form Ormond Ferraris yard. Nooresh Juglall has won on him previously and also knows him well.

Snowdon went into the Senor Santa off an excellent fourth in the Hawaii Stakes at his penultimate start, and a breeze through his formline paints a picture of a horse that does not know how to run a bad race.

He went head to head with Merhee over the final 200m of the Senor Santa, and only went down very late in the day. He is now 4,5kgs better off with Merhee over the extra 40m, and this could be the turnaround required to get back to winning ways.

Lightly Raced


Uphill Climb. Mike De Kock’s Gr2 Senor Santa winner Merhee (inside) will have to raise his game to beat Snowdon again

Anthony Delpech won the Senor Santa on Merhee and cautiously suggested afterwards that we would still see big things from the lightly raced Australian bred son of Elusive Quality. Merhee will be ridden by Marco Van Rensburg, who won two Group features on Champions Day and is riding very well.

His stablemate, the high class Trippi gelding Desert Sheik, returns from a five month break following an unplaced effort in the Dingaans on 1 December. Desert Sheik won three in a row from his first four starts prior to that and he is obviously a very talented 3yo. His fitness and race readiness, or lack of it, may count against him and the betting may be the best guide.


Lucky Houdalakis’ five time winning Tiger Dance gelding Tiger Flash appears to have lost his form badly after a promising spell. Tiger Flash has won twice over Tuesday’s course and distance, and is capable if bouncing back to his better form.

The Sean Tarry trained Western Winter gelding Across The Ice will be ridden again by Piere Strydom, and he ran a fair third 6,50 lengths back in the Senor Santa, after showing good toe.

Across The Ice is a classy sort, who is probably better on sand that turf and looks unlikely to reverse the placings with either of the top two. He is 3kgs worse off with Snowdon and 1,5kgs better off with Merhee.

Gold Class

Across The Ice

Consistent. The Sean Tarry trained Across The Ice is never far off and could surprise with Strydom up

Yukon Gold is something of a course and distance specialist, having registered all three of his wins over the track and trip. The son of Winter Romance was backed when winning smoothly last week, and while not well in at the weights here, appears to be improving and could swoop for the kill if the top two fluff their lines or have an off day.

His Mike Azzie stablemate is the speedy Var mare Solarium, who won over the course and distance on her debut, and comes into the picture with her light weight.

She will be ridden by 4kg claiming apprentice Jarryd Penny, and will thus technically carry only 47,5kgs. She was beaten 5,25 lengths by Across The Ice in receipt of 4kgs, and now gets 9,5kgs from the Tarry galloper.


Kum Naidoo’s seven time winner Napoleon Dynamite is a fair sort, who has an impressive turn of foot when in the mood. He is also a course and distance winner.

The son of Muhtafal ran a fair fourth behind Abbotsbury last time out over the course and distance, but this is much tougher and he could run into the quartet back door with some good fortune.

Pick Six

On paper, Snowdon should be a good bet in this Pick Six opening leg. But Merhee is on the up and that improvement balances the calculations and brings them closer together. Across The Ice is classy and with Strydom up, he is worth including for value.

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