Mike de Kock has plenty of firepow-er lurking in his Randjesfontein barns and with the big-stakes Highveld spring-summer season upon us he rolls out some of it at the Vaal tomorrow.
It’s a low-key race meeting but the master trainer’s classy runners give it a bit of shine.
The conundrum is that some of these horses have been resting and no-one can be sure if they’re quite ready to win yet.
The most intriguing De Kock candidate is Pietro Mascagni in Race 5.
This four-year-old son of Silvano, out of a Western Winter mare, cost owner Sheikh Ham-dan a cool R2.3 million as a year-ling and the time has surely come for him to start recouping larger chunks of that outlay.
However, tomorrow’s 1600m Assessment Plate on the Outside course straight is a pipe-opener and he is likely to finish behind stable companion Viking Trail, a colt by Pathfork who won his second start little more than a week ago and looks progressive.
It’s no-table that Viking Trail gets stable jockey Randall Simons.
Pietro Mascagni has won twice from seven starts and has been disappointing in feature events. Since a no-show in the Gauteng Guineas six months ago, he has been rested and gelded.
He’ll have a target lined up and this outing is designed to brush away cobwebs.
However, superior horses can surprise running fresh, so it’s advisable to include Pietro Mascagni in Trifecta and Quartet bets.
It might also be prudent to include De Kock’s third runner in the seven-horse field, Rajasthani Queen, a four-year-old filly who shows signs of coming to hand after having lost her way following an early win.
Viking Trail opened the 22-10 favourite with Pietro Mascagni at 7-2.
Between them on 5-2 is Chris Erasmus-trained Norland, who is seeking a third career victory and could upset the De Kock applecart with Piere Strydom in the irons.
De Kock steps out two other rested horses in Race 2: Australian imports Hakeem and Shufoog.
Simons swings his leg over aristocratic Hakeem, a son of Redoute’s Choice who also owes Sheikh Hamdan a prey penny.
His opposition doesn’t look fierce in this Assessment Plate and the 1200m might be right for a come-back win after five months off.
Filly Shufoog has been off for eight months, is less experienced and is likely to need more time to get competitive.
The favourite in this race is Mr Flood – also coming off a break, but a good one to pair with Ha-keem in the Exacta.
Would you like to place a bet on the horses? Click here to get started in 3 easy steps.