In the interview after a race, the winning jockey and trainer are asked by the presenters about their other chances on the day. We try to answer truthfully in order to help the punters but even that tends to get us into trouble.
We had an incident at the Vaal on Thursday when Marco van Rensburg was asked about Soldier On who was running in Race 6. He replied that the horse was being aimed at the Grand Heritage next month and would probably need the run.
Soon after that the stipes received calls from some angry punters saying they had bankered Soldier On in their Pick 6 and now Marco is telling them it can’t win.
That is not the case. It does not mean the horse is not trying. In fact, Soldier On ended up finishing second to a fit Puget Sound who had the race won a long way out. All trainers give their horses a break and then plan their next move. A goal is set and the horse is prepared for that race. If it wins along the way nobody will complain but the aim is to have the horse at its peak for a particular race.
The same is true for all athletes. Soccer teams don’t peak for the friendlies prior to a World Cup, they peak at the World Cup.
A horse has come off a rest, all the work may have been done at home but to have him “racing fit” is another story. Many jockeys have come back after an injury and feel they have done enough work in the gym to be ready for their return. But when they start riding they realise they are not yet right.
The same applies to horses.
The other issue is the track. Currently we are riding horses on a track that is not kind to horses. Many of them are feeling the hard going and we often go to the start and feel the horse is not enjoying the track conditions. Unfortunately, the horse does not show enough wrong for the vet to pull him out.
So, there are times when a horse does not run up to scratch and we have to bear the wrath of trainers, owners and punters, but at the end of the day we have to take the horse’s welfare into account. More importantly, we have to look after our own lives.
The hardness of the track is just a fact of life at this time of the year on the Highveld. It’s all about nature and is nobody’s fault. And it will continue until we have rain.
We race on the Inside track at Turffontein again today as the Standside track is being prepared for the feature season.
Race 1 is a Maiden Plate and Sweet Red looks a winning bet. Have a bet on him to start off the day and should get you some money for the rest of the meeting. You have to take note of the unraced Jetorio but Sweet Red does look the horse to beat.
Race 2 is another Maiden Plate and on this occasion we have Silken Prince who, although he has a bad draw, has a high merit rating and could also be a potential winning bet. His danger is Maroon Bells who jumps from pole position, and Toastmaster, who should improve over the distance.
I tried to get the ride on Silken Prince but was unable to.
Race 3 is a handicap and my first selection is Full Of Attitude. He has the strongest form line but there are others in this field who also have some sort of a chance, for example Autumn Rain, Huyssteen and my ride, Dan The Lad. For the Place Accumulator I would go with Full Of Attitude and Autumn Rain. The dark horse is Bronx Bomber.
Race 4 is a Pinnacle Stakes and the best handicapped runners are New Predator and Captain Aldo. They both might be prepping for bigger races so the two to follow could be Full Mast and Africa Rising and they should be good enough for the PA. For the Pick 6 the other inclusions must be New Predator and Captain Aldo.
I’m riding Arctica who should find this distance too short and when I did ask the stable for a ride I was hoping to get Full Mast.
Race 5 is a handicap over 1000m and it seems quite a tricky affair. A lot of these horses have similar form lines and the draw could play a big part. My main selections are Mademoiselle, Ilha Da Var and Colombina. Others to consider are Claremorris, Ficticious, Trip To Ibiza and my ride, Queen Of War. On previous runs she is held on form but her last start she won impressively and I’m hoping she could improve further to beat this field.
Race 6 is the Ladies Stakes which is actually a handicap. Pretty Penny has won her last three starts with ease so she could quite easily, with the benefit of being drawn No 1, win this race comfortably as she is probably still on the upgrade.
She has to be a banker in all bets but the horses who should chase her home are Covered In Snow and Vivir, although last month she was still a two-year-old.
Race 7 is the Spring Spree Stakes, which is also a handicap, with my first choice being Chimichuri Run. He won with consummate ease last time out but he also has a good draw. But what concerns me he is not receiving much weight from top horses. Talktothestars has won a Grade 1 sprint and he’s only giving 4kg. Chimichuri Run obviously ran to his rating but that was against his own age group but now he is taking on top sprinters and is he capable of beating them?
For the Pick 6 you need to consider good draws as this race starts right on the bend. Maybe add Splendid Garden in the PA with Sean Tarry’s runner while for the Pick 6 consider Premier Show and Talktothestars – if he runs to his best form.
I ride Angel’s Power who has the worst of the draws and that is why my preferred pick from the stable was Splendid Garden. Angel’s Power has always run well for me and probably explains why I was given the ride.
Race 8 is another handicap over 1200m where the draws are vital. Taking form and draw into account my main selections are Master Boulder, Minnesota, Alex The Great and Prince Jordan.
Those are my horses for the PA but for the Pick 6 include Singaswewin, even though he is drawn badly, and Wonderous Climber who, although he might find this race a bit short, does have a decent draw for once.
Race 9 is another handicap with the main runners being The Rising Legend, Mambo Symphony and Silver Peg. For the PA put in all three but for the Pick 6 include American Indian and Stunned.