Fortune did not smile on Scotland in his last start and with a little more luck he will be the runner to beat in Race 6 at the Vaal today, a MR 80 Handicap over 2000m.
His last outing was on 25 April over 1800m and was his first back from a three-month break. The Paul Peter-trained runner looked to be travelling quite comfortably coming into the final stages but then got cramped late in the race and did well to finish second, beaten 2.25 lengths by Wild Horizon.
He carries the same weight on this occasion with the only change being Lyle Hewitson replacing Craig Zackey in the irons.
Interestingly stable companion Henry Higgins, an absolute stalwart of the Peter stable, also finished second to Wild Horizon, but over 2450m.
He was beaten 2.50 lengths and at the weights there should be little separating the two Peter runners. However, because of Scotland’s misfortune last time, he is narrowly preferred.
The race does not end there. Brian Wiid saddles Lee’s Pick who takes a drop in class.
He looked ordinary until winning his maiden on the Polytrack at Greyville in March but then ran a cracker in the Listed Derby Trial over 2000m at Turffontein when a 3.30-length second to Pagoda, who will be running in Saturday’s Vodacom Durban July.
Wiid then opted to run his charge in the Grade 1 SA Derby but he probably found 2450m a touch far at this stage of his career and faded out to finish 11.50 lengths behind Durban July favourite Al Sahem.
Back to 2000m Lee’s Pick should be competitive and needs to be included in all exotics. Deon Sampson gets the ride.
Another interesting runner is Penteliko, who showed glimpses of his best form last time when finishing strongly to finish 3.15 lengths behind Wild Briar. He joined the Lucky Houdalakis yard last November and came back after a five-month break in March, running 25 lengths behind Street Flyer over 1400m.
The manner in which he finished last time indicates he has started to get his form back and could be running on when all others are calling it quits. Gunter Wrogemann takes the ride.
Then there’s Amsterdam. Piere Strydom told trainer Mike Azzie he felt the horse needed further when he finished a 2.30-length fifth behind Top Shot over 1600m at Turffontein in May. They took him at his word and next time the Windrush gelding came out over this course and distance and easily beat Jubilee Line by 1.40 lengths.
They then tried to go further, and he raced over 2450m in the race won by Wild Horizon. Amsterdam was beaten 5.75 lengths and on that form looks unlikely to beat Henry Higgins who was 3.25 lengths ahead of him, although he will enjoy the drop to 2000m.