Speaks To Us!

No communication as confusion reigns in Scottsville exotic bets on 26 February

Confusion reigns. No information forthcoming from any quarters.

Second guessing and subdued chaos followed the cancellation of the sixth race at Scottsville on Sunday 26 February. The  racing operators and Saftote predictably once again came up looking like chumps  in the communication and public relations stakes.

Press Releases are difficult enough to come by during the working week, so expecting a short note on a Sunday is probably asking just a little too much. Even a brief explanatory note on a website would have sufficed.

The original seven horse field MR 100 Handicap scratched down to just two runners so the Clerk Of Scales withdrew Ice Axe and Mike’s Choice in a seemingly magical Houdini act. Maybe?  And no runners means no race. So let’s cancel it. Never mind the punters or the racing media. Cancel the exotics too. Move the Pick Six forward. Make it an hour between the scheduled fifth and seventh race.

Or hang on. Rather leave the exotics as is. Let the field count in the cancelled race. Start the first race late so that the race times play catch up and fall into line. Then almost bring the tote down after the seventh race as the world goes into freeze mode as the number crunchers try and fathom out the qualifying numbers. That’s what we have managed to fathom out without the benefit of a press release or Stipes Report.

This seems a fail safe product too! Despite the confusion and loss of a leg in each of the three exotics, punters still came to the party with over R2,5 million being wagered on the PA, Jackpot and Pick Six. And we also had the pleasure of seeing the undefeated Northern Emperor register his third win.

Looks Special! Northern Emperor is now unbeaten in three starts.

The Charles Laird-trained Northern Emperor is something of a talking horse after two facile career victories and he went to post a 7-20 favourite to win the Natal Carbineers 157th Anniversary Pinnacle Stakes over a mile. As expected Anton Marcus did not let punters down after Chill had set a brisk pace. The Ingrid and Markus Jooste owned gelding showed character when cutting through late – even though his backers may have wished for a smoother passage. He went on to beat the talented Indian Hawk who may have gone closer with an earlier burst, while the trusted old warrior Cape Town earned another place cheque for Braam Van Huysteen.

The forthcoming KZN Champions Season beckons and we’d guess that plenty will yet  be heard of Nothern Emperor.

Career First! Mandla Ntuli scored his first win on Happy Colours.

It was a memorable afternoon also for 18 year old Apprentice Mandla Ntuli who rode his first career win after some eight months in the saddle on the longshot Happy Colours for trainer Colin Scott. Ntuli ecstatically performed the Statue of Liberty impersonation, as Tellytrack Presenter Paul Lafferty has apty coined it, just past the winning post. He rode a confident race to bring the formless son of Spectrum from just off the pace to collar Desert Raptor and Billy Boy Blues. The favourite Radio Waves, like the winner a son of Spectrum,  ran a shocker and finished  unplaced.

A youngster with the obvious correct material motivation, Ntuli  candidly lists ‘making money’ as the best thing about being a jockey. It has certainly got to beat training or punting horses!

Double. Anton Marcus rode two winners on an average day at the office.

Anthony Delpech retained his position at the top of the SA jockey table in spite of a blank day while Anton Marcus recorded a double – despite the disappointing efforts from his fancied mounts in the first four races, who all looked potential winners on paper

Marcus rode Macchiato who was sent out at odds on to win the opening leg of the Place Accumulator, an MR 88 Handicap over 2400m. But the five year old Jet Master gelding proved again that his R2,9 million National Sale price tag  is a heavy burden,  sadly not matched by heart or ability. He was given every chance from the saddle as they ambled along just a few lengths off the pacesetting Membrado and the Govender gelding Make My Day.

Anthony Delpech stepped up the pace at the 1000m marker on Make My Day but wide awake Apprentice Julius Mariba tracked him and pounced late to gain a narrow win on League Of His Own – the biggest outsider at 40-1 in the six horse field! And to add to the mystery guessing game of the day this fellow paid a measly R8-20 for a tote win and…wait for it… R8-40 for the place. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

The Tiger Wheel & Tyre Apprentice Handicap, an MR 70 event run over the 1200m straight, posed the first serious test on the card for  punters. Sixteen young jockeys, including two lady riders in Denis Lee and Justine King, went to post in a race split equally between the equine sexes with eight  geldings facing seven fillies and a solitary mare. And the  lady riders did very well in the final summary, running third and fifth respectively.

Slammed Them! Jason Smitsdorff won the Apprentice Handicap.

Nineteen year old Apprentice Jason Smitsdorff took the safest route here on the Glen Kotzen-trained Mister Slam as he stuck to his rail position from his 1 draw. In the final stages Mister Gone shifted out into the eye of a stampede that included the fast-finishing Manjur. A predictable objection followed, but the Stipes may have got this one right – overruling in favour of the Kotzen runner.

And rather than watching the Zimbabwe replay, it would have been beneficial had punters been granted the opportunity of watching a rerun of the final crucial stages. This is an important entertainment aspect of punting emotions and expectations that Tellytrack just can’t get right somehow.

It was Smitsdorff’s third career win and he looks like a young man on the right path. Frikkie Greyling saddled the winner for Raymond Deacon and Fred Crabbia.

As for what happened today. Maybe it will come out in the wash by midweek.

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