Keeping one eye on dropping merit ratings always comes in useful. Even though it might not give you a winner at that particular meeting, many horses will be worth following when they reach a particular mark.
One horse who looks ready for a punt is Zerodarkthirty who runs in Race 5 on the Vaal Classic track tomorrow.
Sean Tarry’s charge looked to have a bright future when running a 0.50-length second behind Whorly Whorly on debut but disappointed in his next two starts when going out as an odds-on favourite, only to find something to beat him on both occasions.
However, it all went right for him at the fourth a empt when he beat Riding Shotgun by 1.50 lengths. One thought that victory would build up some confidence and open the floodgates for a few more wins.
He was sent to Greyville to contest the Grade 3 Umkhomazi Stakes over 1200m where he finished a four-length sixth behind Al Mariachi. He reached a merit rating high of 88 but after that lost form. Even gelding failed to help and his rating was not dropping fast enough to make him competitive again.
His last three starts, however, showed promise and last time he finished a 2.20-length fourth to Star Of Joburg in a MR 80 Handicap over 1400m on the Standside track at Turffontein.
Considering he was drawn No 12 of 12 over a course and distance where a low barrier position is vital as the race starts on the bend, that was not a bad effort. What made it even more useful was that the handicappers dropped him another two points to 74.
The average merit rating in his last race was 80 but when he lines up in this MR 80 Handicap over 1450m the average will be 75. This looks the type of eld which could restart his career and from No 4 draw apprentice Lyle Hewitson, who is edging ever closer to winning his first National Championship title, can get Zerodarkthirty well positioned.
The main danger has to be Tokyo Drift who is proving to be the model of consistency at the moment. Three runs back he beat Blue Diamond Road by a neck and since then has run second, one length behind Sail For Joy and a short head behind Danza.
Chase Maujean is aboard Scott Kenny’s charge and they jump from barrier No 8.
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