This is the time of the year when you have small fields. A lot of jockeys are back from other engagements and that makes it so difficult to get rides.
That is where a jockey needs the support of a stable in order to earn a living. It is especially tough in my case where I have taken around five weeks off, with the exception of the Gold Cup and Champions Cup meetings, as I needed to recuperate. But if you’re not on the system, you get replaced.
However, I needed to look at the bigger picture in that I wanted to be 100% injury free and pain free and this break has done me the world of good. The Catch 22 I find myself in is that while on the one hand I need to give various body parts a rest, I am also trying to keep fit so the exercising again puts pressure on those limbs.
That is why I took the second break after the Gold Cup because although I was a lot better going into the two meetings, I realised during those two days that while I was nearly there, I wasn’t quite where I needed to be. Like so many sportsmen I think I started coming back too early. We earn our living from our sport and it is a case of “no play, no pay”. But I did need more time and think the extra three weeks has given my body the recuperation it has needed.
Having said that, I am due to be back on Thursday and obviously I hope to get going with some quality rides. What is positive is that I have already received phone calls from some trainers and that augurs well for the future.
The reality is that no matter who you are, every jockey needs good rides to win races.
Today we are back at Turffontein and we race on the Standside track.
Race 1 is a Maiden Plate over 1400m and over this course and distance a good draw counts a lot but I will lean towards the one horse with winning form and that is Serendipity with the only danger being first-timer Poormanslady from the Mike de Kock yard.
Race 2 is an apprentice handicap which can always be a bit tricky. But hopefully over 1000m they cannot do too much wrong. Experience does count but I will go with Varsity Princess who has only had two runs and gets a 4kg allowance from apprentice Dylan Lerena. The two dangers are Celtic Lady and Burgundy Rose. For the BiPot put in all three.
Race 3 is a Conditions Plate where your higher rated horses should come out on top. In this case the best handicapped runner is Myfunnyvalentine but as she has not raced for a while it is difficult to make her my first selection.
That leaves it between Secret Star, Biblical Susan and Khaleesi. Khaleesi is getting a 3.5kg claimer which could help quite a bit. For the Place Accumulator include two of those mentioned.
Race 4 is a handicap over 1160m where most of these horses are probably prepping for bigger races in the upcoming season in Joburg. Even though the field is small it is competitive, but I will lean towards those who are distance suited. They are Pure Blonde and Ronnie Rocket who should be good enough for the Place Accumulator. However, I could quite easily see any horse win in this field so for the Pick 6 you could consider the field.
Race 5 is a handicap in which Knysna Rose looks a definite PA banker and a possible Pick 6 banker. Last time she had a bad draw and now she is drawn No 1. If she’s not your idea of a banker the dangers are Elusive Strike and Sylvan On Fire.
Race 6 is a handicap with a small field. Every runner has a chance of winning so for the Place Accumulator consider Top Shot and Happy Pills, the horse who could make the most improvement in this field. For the Pick 6 the field could apply.
Race 7 is a stakes race which should suit the highest rated runner. In this race Dalley has that honour and she looks a hard horse to beat. I make her a banker in all bets but If you don’t want to banker her the dangers look to be Bondiblu and Silken, who should enjoy the Standside track with the longer run-in.
Race 8 is a Maiden Plate for apprentices and I doubt any of these horses are heading off to Hollywood. Their collateral form is very close so include as many as you can afford in both the Place Accumulator and Pick 6.
My top three selections are Emmeline, Vul Indlela and Casino.
Race 9 is another Maiden Plate and it also looks quite competitive. Many of these horses have finished close to one another so for the Place Accumulator I’m leaning towards the older horse who is Ali Bon Dubai. He has more experience and stamina which will aid him over the distance.
I think his dangers are coming from slightly weaker form lines, but they are young horses and could make quite a lot of improvement. They are Money Matters and Harington Port. Those would be my three for the Place Accumulator.
As far as the Pick 6 is concerned you could quite easily consider the field but from my point of view, the main dangers look to be Mister Lister, Young Eagle and Graf Spee. If you don’t like the first three mentioned then this trio are also worth including.
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