Grand On The Sand

Today's Features! Summer Speedsters & Lightning Stakes at Vaal

Top Form. The Var mare Miss October is enjoying her racing in Gauteng and tries the sand for the first time

Top Form. The Var mare Miss October is enjoying her racing in Gauteng and tries the sand for the first time

The sun has set on the glitz and glamour of the J&B Met at Kenilworth on Saturday and we move on to an entirely different universe where the Vaal sand plays host to a rare weekday double feature on Thursday. A smart daughter of Var has come good since her recent move to Gauteng and she catches the eye in the R125 000 Summer Speedsters run over 1000m.

The nine race Vaal sand programme may not have attracted anything like the level of performer seen down South on Saturday, but it remains a veritable feast for the regular punter who enjoys well patronised and com-petitive racing, without the frivolous fashion and silly sideshows.

Double Feature

The non black type double feature bill on the afternoon caters for both sexes and the lightly raced Var mare Miss October stands out as a big runner. That is if she takes to the sand with her electrifying turf toe. The Northfields Stud bred Miss October has had her fair share of trainers in a solid, albeit not illustrious career on the racetrack.

She made a winning debut at Durbanville for Neil Bruss in October 2011 and was to win 3 of her first 4 starts before losing her way slightly. She is stakes placed and can turn it on when in the mood. She switched yards from Bruss to Dennis Drier for her fourth outing, which she won at Scottsville .

Some Time

That was to be Miss October’s last victory for some time though until her third trainer Geoff Woodruff produced her to win a Pinnacle Stakes, slamming a small field of strong sprinting males at Turffontein on 21 January. That win was not unex-pected as she had blossomed since changing yards to Geoff Woodruff and her four Gauteng runs were all promising. At her penultimate start, she ran a cracker when galloping on powerfully for a 0,35 length third in the Gr3 Lebelo Sprint behind Jade Bay. Fit and well and obviously enjoying her racing, Miss October has her first run on sand and can only be taken on trust on that score.


But she will have to be on her toes to beat Dominic Zaki’s Tiger Quest. The superfast daughter of Where’s That Tiger has won on this surface and blotted her copybook with a rare flat performance when running downfield in the Listed Swallow Stakes behind Virgo’s Babe recently. Tiger Quest beat Miss October in the Listed Gardenia Handicap by two lengths in receipt of 8,5kgs and now has to give the Var mare 2kgs.

That is a massive weight turnaround and while the surface is very different, if Miss October shows any aptitude for the sand, she will be a massive runner. The two stand out in the small field, although both Club Captain and Shiver ‘N Shake are impressive recent course and distance winners and are capable of challenging and being thereabouts.

Greased Lightning

The second of the features is the Lightning Stakes run for the same stake and also over 1000m. Trainer Leon Erasmus has a powerful hand with his four way coupling, but Corne Spies may have pulled an ace with the engagement of Piere Strydom for the consistent Velvet Verona. The son of National Assembly appears to thrive on the Spies well proven ‘let them race’ policy.

He won the Flamingo Park Sprint over 1200m on Monday 6 January and then came out three days later on the Thursday of that week to win again, this time on the Vaal sand 1000m. Velvet Verona showed fighting pace again just five days later when going down a 2,25 length third behind Aurum Pot over the 1160m at Turffontein. That is good going! Two wins and a third cheque on three racecourses, over thiree different distances in under 8 days on two different surfaces takes some doing and is an indicator of the heart of a lion.

Very Fit

Let’s just say that Velvet Verona is a very fit horse and let’s not tell him that he is in the noms to run again next Tuesday evening! Kum Naidoo sends out a old hand and duo of Cape Winter and Be Assured. Cape Winter may need the run as he has not seen action for 16 weeks, while Be Assured returns to the sand after two unplaced turf efforts. The 8yo has an electrifying turn of foot and may enjoy the change of scenery.

In The Mind

Strydom will certainly know what is required to beat Louis Goosen’s 3yo Trip Tease. The delinquent starter has the services of Chase Maujean as Striker could naturally not have done the weight. The son of Trippi won his maiden over the course and distance by a country mile and is reputed to have plenty of ability. But to race he will have to go into the stalls, and that is his biggest obstacle for now.

On Track

If you didn’t back the Met winner or crack the Kenilworth Pick 6 put your 2014 back on track and price the double of Miss October on to Velvet Verona. But take insurance and cover with places as the racing is quite competitive!

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