Love The Glory

Today's big one! An intriguing Pinnacle Stakes out at the Vaal

Funny Glory

No Joke! Romeo Francis’ fast Argentinian bred gelding Funny Glory is strongly fancied at the Vaal on Tuesday

Trainer Romeo Francis rates his charge Funny Glory the horse to beat in the R115 000 Pinnacle Stakes at the Vaal on Tuesday. The astute Francis has been around horses for close on four decades and enjoys remarkable success with his small squad that includes some seriously revitalised retreads.

The red and black Francis silks have been winning races in Gauteng for many years and while the amiable trainer only has twelve horses racing, his name crops up with impressive regularity.

Backbone

While the big five yards with 100 plus horses tend to win the Group races and the championships, it is the middle core of the market that effectively props the sport up on a day to day basis. South African horseracing boasts some top class horsemen who are the unsung heroes in this middle tier and they really do form the backbone of the sport.

The colourful and charismatic 51 year old Romeo Francis falls into this faithful category. He is assisted by his fiancé Chantal Bowles and has a string of twenty horses at his Vaal home base. Only twelve of these are actually racing, as the balance are babies:

“I have been working with horses for almost forty years now and I am very fortunate to enjoy a passion for what I do for a living. I have the support of a good team of loyal staff and while I would obviously welcome a few more Group type horses, my philosophy of simplicity and value works well for me. One never stops learning in this game either so there is no time to take the eye off the ball !” he laughed.

Coupling

Francis has two runners in Tuesday’s topliner, a Pinnacle Stakes run over the 1000m on the sand. The Argentinian bred Honour And Glory gelding Funny Glory was a shrewd purchase by him for just R8000 at a dispersal sale in KZN a few years ago:

“He has his niggles but I liked him when I first saw him and he is really a very good horse on the sand. He is fit and well at the moment and I expect him to win it. But don’t ignore Romeo’s Reward either,” he cautioned. The former Hernan Brown trained Funny Glory has excellent recent form and has won five of his last nine starts in great style.

The fast and versatile gelding will be ridden by Raymond Danielson, who won on him last time out over the Turffontein 1200m. His trainer has confidently given him the thumbs up!

His other runner Romeo’s Reward is a three time winning son of Fan Club’s Mister, whose recent form does not look highly impressive on paper. His trainer suggests that we not be lulled into being misled by his apparent poor form, and cautions that he is a danger as he is fit and well and very fast. Francis observes that the handicapper has been a ‘little hard on this chap.’

The Tycoon

Second Tycoon

Danger. Mike De Kock trained Second Tycoon is well in here and represents a danger to the Francis runner

The Mike De Kock trained Captain Al gelding Second Tycoon is a lightly raced three time winner. He is 3,5kgs better off with Benbow after going down 0,75 lengths to him over the course and distance at his penultimate start. That is a winning turnaround and he should be seriously considered.

Melting

Sean Tarry’s Across The Ice is one of the top performers on the sand, but the son of Western Winter ran a shocker at his last start, where we tipped him to win. He drifted out of the red to start a 22 to 10 favourite for that 1400m Pinnacle Stakes at end of May, but never showed to finish some 22 lengths behind Storm Surf.

That was Across The Ice’s worst run ever and it is rather puzzling that there is no explanatory annotation in the relevant Stipe’s Report. The effort appears to have been accepted as a simple off day at the office. Strydom stays with Across The Ice and he is most definitely worth considering again.

Erasmus Trio

Leon Erasmus sends out three runners, including the Bezrin gelding Benbow. This fast hardknocking sort has won six races and will be ridden by Marthinus Mienie in the absence of regular man, Sherman Brown.

Benbow finished ahead of Hang Fire last time (when Dennis The Menace won) and he is a half kilo worse off with the Brett Webber runner here after beating him a half length. Benbow is another who makes respiratory noises from time to time, but his form is remarkably consistent. His stablemate Power Jet is in hot form at the moment and has won his last three starts.

Those victories were all on the turf, but it is worth noting that Power Jet was a runaway maiden winner over Tuesday’s course and distance in December. He has won 4 of his 13 starts and looks very well weighted and competitive on the 52,5kg mark. He has exhibited respiratory noises at a few of his runs, and this must be a cautionary factor.

The third of the Erasmus trio is the Carpocrates gelding Zaganos, who shed his maiden at his penultimate outing over the course and distance. He ran a shocker next time when tried again over the same trip and has no chance on that poor effort.

Expat

Brett Webber’s Hang Fire, like Funny Glory, is yet another KZN expat who has flourished in the sand environment up North. Hang Fire’s best form is over this 1000m track (he is something of a course and distance specialist) but his connections lifted that restriction at his last outing where he went 200m further.

He ran an excellent third to Dennis The Menace after being baulked and having to be switched late. He is undoubtedly very much at home over this trip, and could be the danger runner if not getting too far out of his ground.

Fast Var

Mike Azzie’s Var filly Solarium is a game and very fast sort who is a multiple course and distance victor. The six time winner is yet another who has her breathing problems and may be dangerous if she gets away from her field down the inside from her 2 draw. Robbie Fradd knows her well, and she would not be winning out of turn.

Confusing

This race closes the Pick Six on the afternoon, and it won’t be a leg where punters can go short. The muddling sand form, confused further by plenty of speed and problematic horses (how many of them have respiratory problems, for instance?) makes this contest wide open.

Romeo Francis was confident when interviewed as we went to print and his Funny Glory looks the right one. However Mike De Kock’s Second Tycoon is unexposed and capable of improvement, while Across The Ice could up his game again. Then there is the Erasmus coupling to consider and the speedy Solarium.

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