A wide-open Pinnacle Stakes over 1160m tops the card on the Turffontein Standside track on Sunday but it is one of those races in which the form and the best handicapped boxes do not necessarily align.
Exquisite Touch is the best handicapped runner based on merit ratings and she could still be the horse to beat. There is an interesting swop of jockeys from the Sean Tarry yard as S’manga Khumalo takes over from Lyle Hewitson, who has ridden the four-year-old filly in her last three starts.
This time apprentice Lyle Hewitson, who now looks uncatchable in the race for the jockeys’ championship, takes the ride on Trip To Heaven.
Looking at the statistics one can certainly see why Tarry has made the move with Exquisite Touch as Khumalo has ridden the filly seven times for five wins and a fourth place. This is also a slight drop in class for the daughter of Var as her last two runs were in Grade 1 company. Her penultimate outing was in the Computa-form Sprint where she was run off her feet but was the third fastest finisher behind Attenborough.
Her last start was in the SA Fillies Sprint at Scottsville but she never got into the race on an unfamiliar track and finished unplaced.
The next best weighted runner is Champagne Haze but this is where form and fact don’t match up. Gary Alexander’s charge finished a 3.10-length ninth behind Arabian Beat over this course and distance in a Pinnacle Stakes while Just As I Said ran second, beaten just 0.30 lengths.
They meet at the identical weights in this race and that indicates Just As I Said, who finished 2.80 lengths ahead of Champagne Haze, is weighted to have the advantage once again.
Trip To Heaven has been disappointing of late but he is not running badly. He is still finishing within a few lengths of the winner and must still have another win or two in him. Hewitson has ridden him on three previous occasions in which he finished unplaced but that could be more about the horse than the jockey.
Piere Strydom regularly proves he can bring out the best in a horse and that could well be the case with Romi’s Boy. Strydom has ridden Alec Laird’s charge four times and has come away with two wins, a second and a fourth place. He jumps aboard again on this occasion and one is likely to see an improved performance from this four-time winner.
Graduation Day has not given trainer Joe Soma an easy time as he had many problems early in his career. However, he looks to be running into form and is worth including is all bets, especially with Muzi Yeni up.