We were set to race at Turffontein on Sunday but the meeting has now been postponed till Monday. The country badly needs all the rain and we welcome it. In fact, the racing people welcome it as well because a very firm track is not ideal to race on.
But now and again too much rain plays havoc with horseracing. For a start the lack of training tracks becomes a problem. The work tracks are often under water and the unevenness, or the fact that the horses will go right through the sand on to the base, will obviously not do the horse any good.
There are methods of getting through it as some trainers might swim their horses but there are not swimming facilities in South Africa although I know there are quite a few in Hong Kong.
They can also use a treadmill and those who have one have a huge advantage. But a trainer has many horses taking part in a race meeting and it is just impossible to get every horse on a treadmill as you can only work one at a time. Therefore some horses have a lack of training and that is sure to play a part when the horses race, especially on a wet track where stamina is an issue.
So during this wet period it pays to follow horses who are proven racing fit.
Naturally the jockeys have a dangerous job to do and if you need proof, just look at a record of all the previous injuries, or just ask the course doctor how busy his schedule is. Naturally the worse the conditions the higher are the chances of injury.
People argue that in the UK the conditions are worse and they still race. However, I have seen many UK meetings cancelled due to inclement weather. In addition, because they race so often in the wet, they train their horses to handle the conditions.
Finally, and most importantly, the surfaces are different. Because we have sand underneath the grass, our tracks get very muddy when it rains but in the UK it is more like peat moss. That’s almost like having wet tea leaves as the base so the horses almost race on top of it.
We flat jockeys don’t want to ride in hurdle races and vice versa. In their opinion we travel too closely bunched and too fast, so when you come off the chances of serious injuries are much higher.
From a jockey’s point of view we also struggle with visibility as sometimes we have numerous goggles on and they mist up, so it’s like driving your car without a demister.
The fact that Turffontein Racecourse has a downhill pull-up also does not make life easy for jockeys.
Hopefully the move to tomorrow will allow the track to dry out a little more but we should be racing on “virgin” territory as the false rail has been brought out. After Thursday’s meeting you can only imagine how cut-up the inside must have become. As I mentioned earlier, lean towards horses who have raced currently and have a fitness advantage.
Race 1 is a Maiden Plate for fillies and two runners should fight it out – Santa Monica and Cold Cash. As Cold Cash has raced recently and is drawn No 1, she should get you off to a winning start.
Race 2 is a difficult fillies’ handicap and over these long distances, as pace plays a big part, you can end up with form reversals.
My first choice is Silken, not only because she has a light weight but because she is super fit. I rode her last time and 1700m was way too short as she struggled to stay up with the pace. You can also consider Cranberry Crush and Balalaika. Those three could be good enough for the BiPot but this is a difficult race so include anything else you might fancy.
Race 3 is another fillies’ handicap but the in-form horse who is fit and drawn No 1 is Polly Wolly Doodle and she could quite easily be a Place Accumulator banker. If you look past her consider Return To Power and the dark horse, Cinnamon Wind. She claims 3.5kg, has dropped quite a bit in the ratings and is drawn No 2.
I ride Emily Jay who is coming back in distance and has a bad draw so I’m just hoping for a good run at this stage.
Race 4 is a Maiden Plate for fillies in which Empress Valley has the best form. On form she could quite easily win but the unknown factor is whether she will stay the distance and from a bad draw she will need some luck to get a good position. Therefore in the PA I would back her up with Salmon Run, who should enjoy this track and distance – and she’s racing fit.
For the Pick 6 consider Charter Jet and Knysna Rose, but both have bad draws.
I ride Queen Anne, who placed last time in a work riders’ race and they are often very weak form lines.
Race 5 is another fillies’ handicap and I will look at First Dance again. She has been going up the merit ratings after winning her last two starts and that will make it more difficult. The danger should be Shatoosh.
For the PA those two should get you through and for the Pick 6 consider the field as many of these horses have similar form lines.
I was surprised to see my mount, Shivering Sea, priced up favourite because she is held by Movie Award.
Race 6 is a fillies’ handicap for three-year-olds and on this occasion I think the PA banker could be Zaakhira. She has a good draw, she’s coming back in distance and the fact she’s been running in features means she’s been taking on stronger opposition than she will meet in this race.
For the Pick 6 consider Dame Eleanor as she is a classy filly, even though this distance could be too short and she’s coming off a short rest. My ride, Secret Star, must have a chance as she is fit and is still improving but she has a poor draw. Favour’s Pride is not far behind Zaakhira so should be included along with Intriguing Lady and Timedtoperfection.
Race 7 is an apprentice handicap and the horse with the best form is Duzi Moon. He has a good draw and will be ridden by a capable apprentice in Calvin Ngcobo. I would make him a PA banker but as many of the others are claiming 4kg you might need more runners for the Pick 6. Look at Pachuco, Post Grad and Champions Cup.
Race 8 is another apprentice handicap and on this occasion you could possibly banker Luca Delago. He ran a good race last time and the fact that his apprentice has been plying his trade in Joburg and gets a 4kg claim is a huge advantage. Therefore he will be a banker in the PA and Pick 6.
Race 9 is a Maiden Plate and of those who have raced nothing stands out. So for the PA I would consider Kang Of Mani, Mess and the unexposed form of Starpath. For the Pick 6 add in Captain Rockhopper and my ride Soldat, who finished just behind Mess and King Of Mani last time but has a wide draw to overcome.