Columnists 21.2.2017 06:36 am

Old Em has lots of scope

Bi Pot might be ahead of the handicapper in Race 4.

Old Em is the best-weighted runner in Race 6 at the Vaal on Tuesday and if she improves on her comeback from a four-month rest she could be hard to beat in this Conditions Plate for fillies and mares over 1200m.

Sean Tarry’s charge had only one run from June to February, when she went lame, leading 400m out and finishing 14th behind talented Green Pepper over 1160m at Turffontein in November.

She made her return to action on Thursday last week and showed good pace after recovering from a slow start. At the girth of winner Clever Guy all the way, she got a little bit tired late and was beaten by 3.50 lengths over 1000m at the Vaal.

She will be ridden by 4kg claimer Mpumelelo Mjoka, who is picking up a few good rides from the Tarry stable, and the weight allowance could be a good piece of business for this daughter of Trippi.

There is a possibility Tarry will decide this race comes too soon for the lightly raced four-year-old filly, and if she is pulled out the Mike de Kock trained three-year-old Dame Eleanor could capitalise.

At the time of writing, De Kock was only five winners shy of his 3,000th career victory worldwide and he has several horses with chances at this meeting. All, however, have serious rivals in their respective events.

New Approach filly Dame Eleanor won her first two starts and there are several possible reasons for her fifth behind Smiling Blue Eyes in the Grade 3 Fillies Mile on Summer Cup Day last November. She has not raced since, but should make her presence felt.

Joan Ranger, Fort Ember and Penny Serenade are others to consider.

There is also a Progress Plate for fillies and mares on the programme, with Weiho Marwing-trained Sensible Lover and a De Kock runner, Noor, sharing the best-weighted spot on the table.

Both come firmly into the reckoning over this straight 1600m, but there is a possibility that Bi Pot, a three-year-old from the Geoff Woodruff stable, still has an edge on the handicapping panel and she gets the nod in Race 4.

She has run only three times for two fourths and a win, returning from a short layoff on 4 February in a 1600m race on the Inside track at Turffontein and finding fair sorts Unagi, Shukamisa and Pagoda just a little too good.

She lost a length at the start that day but if Chase Maujean can get her to jump on terms she will make an impact.

Johan Janse van Vuuren-trained Cathedral County could provide good Eachway value in Race 5, a MR 80 Handicap over 1000m. She is in quite a competitive field but a line of form through Chief Sioux gives her a good chance of posting her third win in only four career starts.

Mike Azzie-trained duo Isphan and Aussie Austin could be her biggest threats with Fieldmarshal Fenix and Evening Breeze others to include in same-race exotic bets.

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