Jack Milner
2 minute read
12 Jan 2016
6:00 am

Thriller at the Vaal

Jack Milner

There seems to be one jewel in what is otherwise a mundane card at the Vaal today and that is in Race 8, a MR 88 Handicap over 1000m.

IMPROVING. African Ruler has shown ability but he will be tested when he runs in Race 8 over 1000m at the Vaal today.

Paul Peter had his stable in top form currently and he seems to have a decent sort in African Ruler. The son of Trippi has raced just six times for three wins, one second place and one third.

His last run was particularly impressive as he managed to overcome a sluggish start and then ran on well to beat Buckland by 0.50 lengths over 1200m at this course. Buckland ran last Thursday at the Vaal and went down a head to New Predator, a short-head runner-up to Noah From Goa in the Grade 2 Investec Dingaans. That form was franked yet again when Noah From Goa ran a superb third behind Legal Eagle in Saturday’s L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate.

Running through that line of form should make African Ruler a hard horse to beat if he is able to repeat his last run. What he has against him, however, is that all of his wins have been over 1200m and 1300m – he has yet to run better than an eight-length second when competing over 1000m.

Last week champion jockey Gavin Lerena did readers of Racing Express a good turn when he won aboard My Treasure and he could repeat that favour for us aboard this three-year-old gelding.

Opposing him, however, is Al Azraq, a horse high regarded by trainer Clinton Binda. He is a only a one-time winner from five runs but has twice finished second behind talented Bull Valley and most importantly, beat Buckland by eight lengths when winning his maiden.

His last run which was over 1200m at the Vaal was disappointing but he did get a bump at the start and never recovered. He ended up running a 5.50-length sixth behind Amazing Strike.

Apprentice Mathew Thackeray takes the ride and they will get 2kg from African Ruler.

Then there is Brian Wiid-trained Angel’s Power. He won his first two starts – both over 1000m – and then went down a head to African Ruler over 1300m, giving away 1.5kg. He now gets 2kg from Peter’s runner so over the shorter distance he could have an advantage.

Angel’s Power then finished two lengths behind Al Azraq in a race won by Bull Valley but is now 3kg better off and could reverse the placings.

Both Angel’s Power and African Ruler contested the Grade 3 Graham Beck Stakes over 1400m at Turffontein in October. The race was won by Muwaary and African Ruler finished just a neck ahead of Angel’s Power. However, Wiid’s charge is now 2kg better off and, with Andrew Fortune up, must be a lively contender.