The Sun Met turned out to be a day of ups and downs for me. On the positive side we saw some champion horses come to the fore and it will be interesting to follow their careers. It was also great to have Usain Bolt and Lester Piggott at the course.
The exciting horse I rode was Last Winter. Between myself, Dean Kannemeyer and Lady Laidlaw we were over the moon with his performance.
From No 18 draw I was able to get a reasonably good position but honestly, when we went through the 400m and 300m I would have been happy with a minor place. With quite a bit of urging nothing seemed to happen but suddenly it was like turning on a switch as Last Winter made up his mind it was time to go. As we all know he took off like a rocket.
Obviously one is always hoping to win but it was great, under the circumstances, to finish second. But it was great later when I went up to their private box it was pleasing to discover that even though we finished second, everybody was in such a jovial mood. In fact, my chirp at the end of the night was that I’d never seen people so happy to run second.
Naturally I would be quite happy to ride him again but I believe he is off to Dubai.
On the negative side it turned out to be a long day with 13 races. Once the feature races were over, by Race 10, for many the thrill was over.
The other disappointment was the attendance. The threat of demonstrations had a lot to do with it because I know of people who had booked to come but didn’t turn up because they were worried about the protests.
We have a couple of minor features at Turffontein today and these mark the beginning of our autumn season on the Highveld.
Race 1 is a Maiden Plate where Manhattan Cocktail looks the horse we all have to beat. Admittedly he is coming back in distance but he has a good draw. He will probably have to jump out on terms this time. As some of these horses are lightly raced you have to respect the likes of Sirtain, Infamous Fox and Power Of Place.
I’m riding Coastal Torrent who is drawn a bit wide and trying the distance for the first time.
The fact Muzi Yeni is off Coastal Torrent to ride Sirtain has to tell you something. However, I would like nothing better than to show him he’s made a mistake.
Race 2 is a small but very tricky Progress Plate where the highest rated horse is Glider Pilot. I rode him last time after a long rest so he should be fitter. Unfortunately he was not comfortable around the turn and raced awkwardly throughout the race. On best form he should win but I’m not sure he is yet ready to produce his best run.
Other horses with similar form are Social Order and Being Fabulous. However, the unknown runner is Greek Fire. Even though he is not well handicapped, he is laid back and still immature so he could make huge improvement and beat all his opposition.
Race 3 is Plate race so your highest handicapped horses should come out on top. On this occasion She’s A Giver comes out way above the others and therefore she’s a banker in the Place Accumulator. The dangers are Redberry Lane and Tambalang.
Race 4 is a Maiden Plate with none of the runners having exceptionally strong form. My first choice is Rising Legend who has only had one run and has scope for improvement. He did run second on that occasion but was beaten quite a distance by Lobo’s Legend who contested a feature in Cape Town last week, so makes it a creditable performance.
To be on the safe side you will have to include Agent Kay and Ghost Rider. Those three should see you through the Pick 6.
Race 5 is another Plate race with the highest rated horses having an advantage. Therefore, the only horses who can win are Witchcraft, Patchit Up Baby and Bondiblu. They should be good enough for the Pick 6 and pick any two for the PA.
Race 6 is a handicap with many horses having winning chances. There are a group of well handicapped runners – Irish Pride, Count Tassilo, Finchatton and Secret Captain – but they are either in need of a run or have bad draws, and that could bring others into the race.
The race does not stop there. Horses like Matador Man, Unagi, Romany Prince and Starrett City also come into the equation if they produce their best efforts.
For the PA include as many as possible and for the Pick 6 the field could easily apply.
I ride Kings Archer who has a good draw but looks held by the weight turnover by Arctica who in turn is held by other horses. It will be difficult for Kings Archer to place but as he is fit and well, hopefully he can surprise.
Race 7 is the Tony Ruffel Stakes and we have young, up-and-coming, lightly raced colts who are hoping to make it in the upcoming features. This is a Plate race in which higher rated horses should come out on top but because of their rate of improvement that could change completely over the next couple of months.
The highest rated horse is Ideal Secret who has an undeniable chance. Seerite has beaten Ideal Secret but was withdrawn from a race last time and could need the run. The horse we might all have to beat is Yakeen who has a great draw over this course and distance.
Others to include are Pietro Mascagni, Wonderwall and my ride, Surcharge.
Surcharge is a top horse but 1400m is not his right distance as he struggles to keep up with the pace and gets going late. That means his class is getting him through but once he starts racing over further you will see the best of him.
For the PA include a few of these mentioned and for the Pick 6 include all those mentioned as well as Sir David Baird and Purple Diamond.
Race 8 is the Three Troikas Stakes for fillies and the same rule applies and they can make huge improvement. For the PA San Fermin could have been a PA banker but from a wide draw it could be worth adding in Fish River. For the Pick 6 consider Takingthepiece and No More Words.
However, the choice does not end there. You could quite easily go for the field.
I ride Dame Kelly. She’s not the best handicapped but could quite easily win this as well.
Race 9 is another Plate race. The best-weighted runner is Pagoda but unfortunately his last run was not that good. However, he has run in feature races against some of the best in the country.
If you look past him the other contenders are Cool Chardonnay, The Elmo Effect, Sheet Weaver and Dromedaris.
Include as many of those for the PA but there are other possibilities for the Pick 6 like Kilrain, Dawn Assault and Smart Mart.
Race 10 is a Maiden Plate with Mambo Model my first selection as she finished third in her only start. Her dangers should be Sunshine Silk and Tigerlace. I ride Written who has not finished far behind Tigerlace so we must have a winning change.
The dark horse is Babe Paley who found some support on debut.
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