Champion jockey Gavin Lerena teams up with African Ruler in Race 5 at the Vaal today and they look to be a winning combination.
Lerena has an excellent record on Paul Peter’s charge, having ridden him four times for three wins and an unplaced effort which can be forgiven as it was in the Grade 3 Graham Beck Stakes over 1400m, a distance that is probably a touch too far.
In his last two starts this three-year-old son of Trippi has taken on some top-class opposition. Two runs back he ran in the Grade 1 Golden Horse Sprint over 1200m at Scottsville and finished a 2.25-length second behind Talktothestars.
Last time out African Ruler ran a 2.50-length second to Graduation Day in a Pinnacle Stakes over 1160m at Turffontein and under the race conditions had to give 1.5kg to the winner.
He meets some useful performers in this MR 100 Handicap over 1200m on the Vaal Outside track but should have the class to overcome this field.
The main threat is likely to come from Donny G with S’manga Khumalo in the irons. This son of Seventh Rock has been running consistently after having been gelded and in his four starts since has a record of two wins and two seconds.
On a line through Finchatton, though, he could be facing quite a duel with seven-year-old Dennis The Menace from the Stuart Pettigrew stable. Dennis The Menace beat Finchatton by 0.30 lengths, receiving 2.5kg while Donny G ran a 2.75-length second to the same horse, getting 3.5kg.
As the pair meet at level weights Dennis The Menace should have the edge but the one concern is that the time of Donny G’s race was more than a second faster.
Marco van Rensburg was carded to ride Dennis The Menace but he is out of action following a fall on Sunday and Randall Simons takes the ride.
GOOD COMBINATION. African Ruler and Gavin Lerena look a winning team in Race 5 at the Vaal today.
BEST BET: RACE 2
NO 14 VAR AGTIG
VALUE BET: RACE 8
NO 9 RIVER EMPRESS