Today we’re racing on the Vaal Classic track. Unfortunately I won’t be taking part because I’m serving a one-week suspension and will only be back on Tuesday.
Suspensions are part and parcel of a jockey’s life – not that we’re looking for it, but as you can imagine, when riding these big animals and trying to win, mistakes can happen because of split-second and sometimes unavoidable occurrences.
I accepted my suspension with good grace after the stipendiary stewards showed me the patrol film of the incident. I was riding Kings Archer, who is a horse who needs no excuse to throw in the towel. I allowed him to drift across in the finish, feeling if I had to straighten him up he would stop trying and we’d get beaten. Plus, I went past Sherman Brown and Shukamisa – the horse I inconvenienced – easily and I thought the horse had tired. I learnt afterwards that Sherman had to ease out because it was getting a bit tight. After seeing what happened I had to accept my punishment and signed an admission of guilt.
My decision cost me a quarter of a month’s salary, though, and one winner cannot make up for that. It might also have cost me a few of my regular rides if another jockey does well on them while I’m suspended.
I must admit that, although I’m cross with myself, I did take advantage of the time off. At this late stage of my career it doesn’t do me any harm to give my body a break, so I took a couple of days off to visit a friend in Klerksdorp and play some golf. That was fun.
Not so much to be missing the Vaal Classic meeting today, though.
Race 1 is for work riders and these are often not the easiest races to assess. The ones you need to look at are Mighty Valdie, Tommy The Builder and Finding Troy, who finished second on Thursday. But do take note of any betting support for the unraced horses.
Race 2 is a Maiden Plate where the main selection is Shakespeare Inlove. Unfortunately, she is drawn quite wide so you also need to consider Diva Faustina and Twice A Lady, who has only run once. BiPot players should put in Shakespeare Inlove and Twice A Lady.
Race 3, another Maiden Plate, offers a possible banker for the Place Accumulator in the form of Gertjie. He finished second in his last start, is lightly raced and with the highest merit rating, looks the one to beat. If he does not grab you as banker material, consider including Greenwood Drive.
Race 4 is a fillies’ handicap and such races always seem competitive. Many have winning chances here, but my main selections are Azkur, Circle Of Latitude and Savethebestforlast – even Kimberley raider Sea Bean has a chance. The race doesn’t stop there, though, so for Pick 6s consider putting in the field.
In Race 5 I think Winter’s Forge is the right horse, but last time out she ran poorly. It must be noted the word was out she would probably need that run. I rode Winter Watch last time she ran but she’s never done well over further than 1000m and as she reverts to her best distance here, she could quite easily win. Singing In Seattle is better off at the weight with Winter Watch so also needs to be included, while a young, improving filly is Frederico’s Dream although she could find 1000m a little bit short. I also won on Ice Art in her last start and she won quite easily. That’s quite a list, so I’ll narrow it down to the ones I think are the main contenders – those who have competed in feature company, like Winter’s Forge, Winter Watch and Singing In Seattle.
Race 6 is a Pinnacle Stakes and the highest merit-rated horses normally come out on top. I’m tempted to go against the norm and make my first selection Captain Aldo because he only just got beaten last time out. Unfortunately he has a wide draw to overcome. Therefore Kangaroo Jack and New Predator must rank the main runners with Captain Aldo to chase them home.
We have a few young horses with some promise competing in Race 7 and many of them can still improve on their current form. My first selection is Noble Secret but he hasn’t run since November and I don’t know whether he’s going to need this run or not. His main dangers could be Manitoba and Alshibaa. Include all three in the Pick 6 but Noble Secret is a possible banker in the Place Accumulator.
Race 8 is a fillies’ handicap for three-year-olds only and you can expect a lot of improvement from certain horses. My first selection has to be Maple Syrup, who has won both her starts to date. The unknown is Dressed To Impress, who won her only start and can improve. Others to consider for the Pick 6 would be Pilgrim’s Progress and Pale Lilac. However, I think Maple Syrup is definitely a banker in the Place Accumulator and on a difficult card, perhaps also in the Pick 6.
Race 9 is another fillies’ handicap, this one over 1500m, which means the draw and form will play a big part. La Roquette finished well in a stronger race than this last time and must be my first selection – especially because she’s got a good draw. She’s had a tendency to overrace, which means this course and distance should be ideal. In fact, she could also be a Pick 6 banker, although Redberry Wood is an improver and could be the other necessary inclusion if you want to go wider.
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