Taxing Costs

Vaal on Tuesday and Legal Account looks overdue for a second win

Expensive – The Lake Coniston mare Legal Account deserves a second career win and looks the value in the race

The fairer sex step into the ring at the Vaal on Tuesday where a field of ten face the starter in a competitive MR 88 Fillies & Mares Handicap over the testing 1400m straight. With the generation gap spanning four seasons, punters are left with a choice of possibly untapped potential against proven experience.  There are also some top-class jockeys riding in this race. Which just adds to the uncertainty.

The criteria for Springbok selection for the upcoming International Jockey Challenge is a rather unimaginative top four on the national log, but the selectors could pick a winning side from the guys riding at this meeting.

Tuesday’s card boasts names like Robbie Fradd, Piere Strydom, Anton Marcus, Marthinus  Mienie and Sherman Brown, and any one of them would walk blindfolded into most international jockey sides. Their presence makes up for the slightly lacklustre four-legged participants on this programme.

Age Analysis

The younger set are represented by Dominic Zaki’s very promising Victory Moon filly, Sea Shadow. The Gary Player Stud gave her away at sale for just R30 000 and the youngster is a winner of 3 of her 6 outings. She has only blotted her copybook at Group level.

In hindsight her two runs in the SA Fillies Nursery and the Alan Robertson may have come a few months too early, but many will argue that horses get only one tilt at the big races of the particular year and they are worthwhile going for.

Sea Shadow won her first two outings by a combined 10,25 lengths and while she has not run since finishing second to Cherry On The Top on July day at Turffontein, she could strip fresh and come out firing. She comes in on 55.5kgs and gets the services of Derreck David. Her connections will be looking for a forward effort here if she is continue in the same vein that she left off in her 2yo year.

Wasted Costs

A runner that catches the eye is the Lake Coniston mare, Legal Account.

We had to take a second glance to ensure that she has in fact remarkably only won one race in her 34 starts. In her defence, she was campaigned against the very best of her generation as a younger filly and came away with multiple Group feature places.

Legal Account’s recent form is not highly inspiring on paper and includes a third placed 8,25 lengths off runaway winner Formation in the Emerald Fillies Handicap. But she has run on well in a few of her starts and only needs things to go her way. She is admittedly held by Piere Strydom’s classy ride,  Up Front, for Barend Botes.

The daughter of Count Dubois showed her true ability and class as a 2yo, when running a Gr1 and a Gr2 second as a maiden. Her 3,25 length second to Equus Champion Princess Victoria in the Alan Robertson would in fact be recommendation enough for us to bond the house and get the lot here.

She has won 3 of her last 6 starts and one can probably ignore the failed experiment of her shocker behind Formation on the Vaal sand last time.

Jet Fuel

Geoff Woodruff and Anton Marcus team up with Jet In The Sky, who was hailed as something special when winning her maiden by 8,75 lengths in March. She won her very next start, but then registered two no-pays in the Syringa and a handicap three months ago.

Her fitness will have to be taken on trust and the betting may be the best guide as to whether she warrants consideration.

Lucky Houdalakis trains the Victory Moon filly Vivacious Star, who showed her well-being with a smart third to Alessandria over a mile last time out.

Vivacious Star is very consistent and beat the capable Paschal Moon by 1,25 over the Turffontein 1400m when getting a half kilo and it is interesting to note that Paschal Moon subsequently beat the boys on 29 September in an MR 80 Handicap. Vivacious Star also has some fair form to Guineas winner Go Indigo.

Fire Me Up

Robbie Fradd rides Magic Smoke for Mike Azzie and this good-looking daughter of Fort Wood was considered a promising future prospect when winning on debut by 7,50 lengths. She followed that win up with another smart victory at her next start when jumping at prohibitive odds.

Magic Smoke had earned her dip in the deep end, but flopped in the Gr3 Starling Stakes and the Gr3 Fillies Mile. She, however, only took two runs to get back into the winner’s enclosure when reverting to the more pedestrian competition of ordinary handicaps. She won on the sand over a mile, but went a bit one-paced when fourth 4,50 lengths behind Shattered Image over the 1450m on the sand last time out.

Magic Smoke should strip a fit filly here after that disappointing last effort and could come into the consideration for bigger exotic perms.

Discount King

It is with some difficulty that we discount any one of the runners, but the likes of Raise The Bar, Cyclone Michelle, Hotel Royale and Knock And Announce look unlikely to be in front where it counts.

Raise The Bar is a six-time winner but seems a lot more competitive on the sand.

Cyclone Michelle showed a form return at her last start, when powering on late behind Alessandria over a mile in a similar strength race. She will have to confirm the improvement and also erase the thought that this may be a bit short of what she enjoys.

Hotel Royal is a course and surface distance winner, but has lost form in her recent outings.

Bottomweight Knock And Announce has not run since mid-May and injured herself on course at her last scheduled appearance on 28 June. She will probably need the outing and needs to lift the level of form shown at her last few runs, although she did stay on for third behind Shattered Image at her penultimate start – and is probably capable of running a long-priced place on that sort of effort.

Fillies and Mares races are notorious for producing upset results, and with rests and sand efforts punctuating the formlines, we are inclined to seek value. Legal Account is way better than retiring a one-time winner and she may deserve another chance to make good.

Strydom’s mount Up Front and Dominic Zaki’s Sea Shadow look to have the most scope for further improvement and have touches of genuine class about them.

We suggest that any one of Up Front, Sea Shadow or Legal Account could win this. The value may lie in the latter, but the two younger horses look serious runners.

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