Autumn Sand Sprint over 1000m at Vaal on Thursday
The highlight in midweek is the non-black type Autumn Sand Sprint over 1200m at the Vaal on Thursday. In what in real terms is a very competitive handicap fourteen will go to post and plenty have chances, writes Steve Furnish.
Heading the weights is Sean Tarry’s sole representative in the event The Mouseketeer. This son of Kahal has only been beaten once in three starts on sand and that was when a runner up to his stable companion Mr Tobin (unbeaten in four starts on sand) over 1600m last time out. Usually one to race up with the speed, The Mouseketeer beat both Master Blaster and Prime Mover fair and square in his only previous outing over today’s course and distance in the Gr3 August Stakes earlier in the season. He doesn’t have the best of the draw here, but he is usually quick into stride and if soon at the helm, will take some pegging back.
Both of Master Blaster’s wins on sand have come over 1450m, but he has won three times over today’s distance on turf. He meets The Mouseketeer on 5,5kg better terms than when beaten by 4,2 lengths ain the August Stakes and although he has been unable to finish better than fifth since gaining the latest of his successes in June, he must hold some kind of a chance if reproducing his best.
The only one of the two sure to get a run from the stable of Leon Erasmus is Prime Mover. He’s gained four of his five career victories over today’s course and distance and he is now 4kg better off at the weights with The Mouseketeer for the 1,8 lengths beating he received in the August Stakes.
Stable companion Bownore is on bench. He ran on well when coming from the rear to win over the course and distance last time out, but he is now up in class, and under sufferance to boot, he clearly has no easy task.
The two 3yo’s in the race are both trained by Paul Peter. Winter’s Song has gained all four of his wins on today’s surface, but interestingly, three of those successes were gained over the minimum trip. He’s risen some fifteen points in the handicap since gaining the third of those successes in a lowly MR72 affair in June though and he’s not been finding it easy racing off a mark of 102.
The dark horse of the race is stable companion Carlito Brigante. The runner up in the listed Storm Bird Stakes, Carlito Brigante showed real potential as a juvenile last season. He’s battled to reproduce his best since being reported as lame on the off fore in the Protea Stakes in his next start, but he does now try the sand for the first time.
Fourth in the 2009 Summer Cup, the veteran Captain Scott performed with credit when finishing runner up in his first try on the sand last time out. He is usually seen out over much further than they race here though and without a win in nineteen outings, and drawn wide to boot, he is not easy to fancy here.
Much more of a threat from the stable should be last year’s winner of this race Chrysalis. Always handy, Chrysalis cruised in by five and a half last season. He’s been in good form on turf prior to disappointing when drawn wide last time out and setting off from gate two here, he must be a serious contender if reproducing last season’s effort.
The highest rated of Paul Matchett’s two runners is Gold Game. He’s only managed to fill a place in the Trifecta twice in eleven starts since finishing fourth in this race last year and racing off a mark just one point lower than he did then, a win looks unlikely.
The 6yo Commissionerstreet raced no less than fifteen times during the course of 2011, but he clearly thrived on it as he has won four of his last six starts. He goes particularly well over today’s course and distance and although he is now up in class, he deserves to take his chance.
Since returning from a nine month break in August, Cape Winter has come to hand nicely and he showed his liking for today’s surface in no uncertain terms when hammering three of today’s runners in the non-black type Lightning Stakes over 1000m here last time out. Cape Winter received a massive 15 point hike in the weights for that win, but he was in under sufferance that day and could still improve now back over a trip on which he has won on turf.
Rarely out of the frame, the Tiger Ridge colt Boss Cat has performed with credit since being stepped up in class in recent months. He’s without a win in eight starts now, but he was only 3,5 lengths behind Cape Winter in the Lightning Stakes and he is now 3kg better off at the weights with that one.
The White Horse
The aptly named The White Horse gained the latest of his two sand wins over today’s course and distance. That was way back in Sept ’10 though and usually seen out over further nowadays, he could find this a bit sharp.
On The Bench
First reserve Speed Keeper is as honest as they come and is sure to give of his best if getting a run. He is now up in class though and having only won one of his last twenty outings, he won’t find this easy.
About The Pace
With plenty of candidates for the role of frontrunner amongst the fourteen going to post, a good pace looks assured. Last season’s Emerald Cup winner The Mouseketeer went from strength to strength on today’s surface last season and he did win his only previous start over today’s trip. He has no easy task at the weights, but his class could pull him through.