It looks like the last-chance saloon for Vodacom Durban July hopeful Tree Tumbo when he barrels through the swing doors of a Progress Plate on the Vaal Classic track on Thursday.
The gelding remains one of champion trainer Sean Tarry’s eight entries for South Africa’s biggest race, but if he can’t win this rather humble contest at a moderate midweek meeting the lofty aspirations of his connections will be plugged full of holes.
And it certainly won’t be easy for Tree Tumbo as he faces tough opposition in Race 7 over 1600m. A plated race of this nature offers horses on the cusp of the topmost level a good chance to boost their status ahead of feature seasons to come.
Tree Tumbo glories in a merit rating of 109 despite only having won three low-level events, but he has been pitched into a few features along the way and has done OK – notably getting a third place in the 2021 Summer Cup, well behind winner Summer Pudding, and a fourth in the Charity Mile.
He is well in weight-wise but must still shoulder 61kg – and is coming off a 107-day break.
His biggest problem comes in the shape of stable mate Willow Express, who is in hot form and pursuing of a hat-trick of wins. This guy is also a three-time winner and has run creditably behind the likes of Malmoos and Seeking The Stars.
It was a dastardly snip of the bollocks in the new year that put Willow Express on a new trajectory, a quick victorious double and a nudge at the big time. Unsurprisingly, Tarry’s stable jockey Lyle Hewitson has opted for the progressive grey.
Smart filly Gee For Go takes on the males and has an strong argument in her favour. She was the support act to superstar stablemate War Of Athena in the Triple Tiara but is now looking to establish herself as a top galloper in her own right.
Her trainer, Paul Matchett, also sends out Bold Jazz, another who has had the pleasure of seeing Malmoos’s rear and who might be a lot better than the stats show.
Mike de Kock saddles Nartjie, who was highly thought of in the fairly recent past; while Johan Janse van Vuuren fields Herodotus, who was rated as high as a MR109 a year ago but who has plunged to a 95.
It’s an interesting race that could put the cherry on the top of a yummy cake day for Tarry and Hewitson.
They team up with the best bet on the day, Miss Magician in Race 2, and could also celebrate with the likes of Siren Of Greece (Race 5) and Jumeirah Gold (Race 6).
5 Abalus, 8 Silvery Blue, Aurora Light, 7 Prettier In Pink
11 Miss Magician, 1 Imitation Game, 3 Lulu’s Boy, 4 Connection
11 Sybaris, 5 Willow Lane, 1 Bold Decision, 12 Parthenon
10 Laird Of Breedon, 1 Castle Corner, 3 Grace From Above, 2 Successful Ruler
3 Sophia’s First, 2 Siren Of Greece, 4 Super Duper, 1 Wedding Bliss
4 Jumeirah Gold, 3 Nussply, 1 Curfew, 7 Enigma Code
2 Willow Express, 1 Tree Tumbo, 3 Gee For Go, 5 Bold Jazz
1 Love Lies, 8 Alex The Great, 2 Belle Of Belize, 6 Magic Choice
5,11 x 1,3,10 x 2,3 x 1,2,3,4,5,7 x 1,2,3,4,5,6 x 1,2,6,8 (R1728)
11 x 5,11 x 1,10 x 2,3 x 1,3,4 x 1,2 x 1,2,8 (R144)