There is an old saying that the smaller the field, the bigger the upset, and that could well be the case at the Vaal today as all eight races look highly competitive and five of them comprise 10 horses or less.
There is logic to that maxim as often small fields end up with a false pace and that will often suit weaker horses. The man who holds the key, however, could be Sean Tarry who is starting to get his stable into full swing after a small hiatus during which his horses get their inoculations and have a decent rest after a long season.
The best banker on this tricky card looks to be Tarry-trained Visigoth in Race 5. He ran a cracker on debut when relatively unfancied in the betting, finishing strongly after a slow start to run a 2.80-length this behind The Puma over 1400m at Turffontein.
He goes 1600m up the Vaal straight this time which looks ideal for this son of Visionaire. S’manga Khumalo takes the ride.
Tarry also has a strong hand in Race 7, a MR 94 Handicap for three-year-olds over 1300m where he sends out Wonderous Climber and La Bastide, the lone filly in the race. Wonderous Climber comes from a very good family and is a full brother to Our Icon and a half-brother to Helderberg Blue, Silver Mountain and Cloth Of Cloud.
He was narrowly beaten on debut and then scored a 2.25-length win in a 1600m race over Alssakhra. However, he has not raced since May and could be in need of the run.
Khumalo has the ride.
La Bastide was not strongly fancied on debut but this daughter of Dan De lago won well at odds of 8-1, beating Distant Call, a facile winner of her next race, by 1.10 lengths. She looks quite decent and carries just 52kg. Lyle Hewitson takes the ride.
A bigger threat, however, could be Borya from the Gavin van Zyl yard. This son of Indigo Magic brings Grade 1 form into the race as he ran a 1.20-length sixth behind Eyes Wide Open in the Premiers Champion Stakes over 1600m at Greyville on 30 July.
One would imagine they have bigger things in mind for him this season but one should get a decent run out the colt. Keagan de Melo takes the ride.
Prince Of Kahal ran fourth, beaten three lengths, by Al Mariachi at Greyville on Durban July Day while Flying Winner is from the in-form yard of Alec Laird.