Last Saturday one of the main meetings of the Highveld autumn season took place and I was chuffed to have won the Betting World Gauteng Guineas aboard Janoobi.
But in the end, the day belonged to Mike de Kock. Not only did the stable win three features on the day but we also celebrated Mike’s 3,000th winner – and that happened to be Janoobi. It was quite ironic I was the jockey to ride that winner, firstly because I also reached a milestone when I rode 5,000 winners and secondly because I seldom get a ride from the stable.
Mike has to be one of South Africa’s greatest trainers, not only because of his record, but because he is the person who, although was not the first trainer to take individual horses overseas, took a whole string to Dubai and paved the way for other South African trainers to race internationally.
I have not had that many dealings with him but I am aware of his scientific way of training and he has always been prepared to give an honest opinion to other trainers, even though they are his opposition.
One also has to praise his whole team because Mike travels a lot and therefore needs high-quality staff to keep the stable at its lofty heights.
I think if I had ridden for him I would probably have had 1,000 more winners by now. Having said that, if he had used me more regularly, he would have reached 3,000 winners quite a long time ago!
Obviously we had some quality horses running at the meeting but while I was pleased to win on Janoobi I would think in the SA Classic in April it will be difficult to beat Al Sahem and Heavenly Blue. Both were not as tuned up as Janoobi and I’m sure 1800m will suit those two more than it will suit Janoobi.
The Guineas was the first leg of the Triple Crown and it is not often you have a live runner going into the second leg so it could be worth taking a chance with Janoobi as you never know what will happen. He’s starting to settle a lot better and maybe he could improve further.
The Wilgerbosdrift Gauteng Fillies Guineas was won by Smiling Blue Eyes. She was very impressive and she could win the Triple Tiara as she looks likely to stay further and she is unlikely to have another shocking draw.
She was caught three horses wide and she came past me like I was standing still and I managed to run fourth on Babbling Brooke.
Another impressive winner on the day was Nother Russia. She had a bad draw and ended up at the back of the field in a slow-run race. She still managed to run past a field of quality fillies which makes her win even more credible than the margin of a head may suggest.
Today we race on the Turffontein Standside track and Race 1 is over 1400m so the draw is important. The three horses who should fight it out are Chartered Jet, Queen Anne and Great Sound.
I ride Queen Anne who finished third last time in a very weak field but hopefully with a better draw it could help me as she is quite speedy and this testing 1400m might not be in her favour. My first choice is Great Sound as she’s finished a head of certain horses who have finished ahead of Queen Anne.
Charter Jet ran below form last time but once again has a bad draw again.
Race 2 is a handicap for three-year-old fillies so they can improve but current form suggests Bi Pot and Dalaal should fight it out. They have both only raced three times and have not been beaten far against quality opposition. Their danger could be High Seas Beauty as she has only raced twice and could make more improvement than the others.
I ride Emily Jay who should be suited by the galloping track and this distance but is held on form by Sun Sentinal.
In the BiPot I would have bankered Bi Pot but as this field has many runners with chances, include Dalaal.
Race 3 is the first leg of the Place Accumulator and I have one of my best bets on the card in Cheat The Cheaters. I liked him last time but I think the Inside track and a wide draw did not help his chances. On this track with the longer straight and a better draw he should be hard to beat. I am going to banker him in the PA.
In Race 4 I ride Patchit Up Baby. She is not well handicapped this time around but I’m hoping that as she is very fit she could still beat this field. On collateral form my first selections are Zafira and Zante. I rode Zante two runs back when she needed the run behind Patchit Up Baby. With normal improvement on fitness she could be the horse to beat.
For the PA pick two of those and for the Pick 6 take all three and include Inaninstant and Tiger Flame.
Race 5 is the Egoli Mile which is a handicap for three-year-olds and here we have a competitive field. Many have run against quality horses and it is very difficult to pick a winner. I’m leaning towards Raydaveric and Biblical Susan. But the race does not stop there so you will need both in the PA and the field could be included in the Pick 6.
Race 6 is the Storm Bird Stakes for two-year-olds and that makes it difficult to work out form. Currently the strongest form has to come from Barrack Street and Punta Cana. Those are my two for the PA.
They could be good enough for the Pick 6 but as some have raced once for one win they could improve so add in Alfolk and Alpine Echo.
Race 7 is the Ruffian Stakes and the same should apply in this race but Kissable has been so impressive that it’s hard to look past her. She’s a definite PA banker and should be a Pick 6 banker. The only danger could be Daring Diva but she looks unlikely to beat Paul Matchett’s runner.
Race 8 is the Bauhinia Handicap and just about every horse has a chance. I’m riding Joan Ranger and this 1000m is probably too short for her and she looks held on collateral form. As this is now a handicap she is up against it but what is in my favour is Lucky Houdalakis has his stable is in top form.
My first selection is Scandal. In her penultimate start, the Grade 2 Southern Cross Stakes she finished behind Jo’s Bond and the third horse was Carry On Alice. Her last start was in the Grade 2 Sceptre Stakes and she finished fifth. Just ahead of her again was Carry On Alice, proving the previous run was no fluke. Carry On Alice went on to win the Grade 1 Cape Flying Championship after that and that could make Scandal the horse to beat.
Her dangers could be Hashtag Strat and Arissa as Wrecking Ball finished behind them and then came out to win a minor feature against the colts.
For the PA go with those three. For the Pick 6 include as many as you can because if those don’t arrive, anything can win.
Clever Guy in Race 9 looks to be a banker in all bets. He won with consummate ease and as he was only allowed to get a 3kg penalty for that win he is probably better than his rating. The only danger could be Raasmaal but on a line through Al Azraq he will need to improve to beat Clever Guy.
I ride Aussie Austin but he is held by Raasmaal.
Race 10 is a Maiden Plate and a number of horses have wining chances. I ride Intrepid Silva who finished behind Dan The Lad so hopefully with normal improvement we might be able to reverse that. However, Intrepid Silva has been racing quite keenly to the front and I’m not sure 1400m will be in his favour. The dangers could be Tharoos, who finished just behind Dan The Lad and the unknown horse, Made To Conquer. He attracted betting support in his only start but after pecking and losing ground his chances of winning were diminished.