The weather in Joburg hasn’t been co-operating and we’ve been losing meetings but unfortunately when the tracks get saturated it only needs a little rain to make racing dangerous.
On Wednesday at Turffontein, where only four races were run, the divots were 20cm deep and the horses were pecking – they are not used to these conditions. You can’t ride a horse out properly when that happens and you get atrocious results.
When I rode at the International Jockeys’ Challenge in Cape Town a few weeks ago even the overseas riders were quick to say the conditions were dangerous. They ride on wetter going in Europe but the soil composition here is different and racing becomes unsafe a lot sooner.
We jockeys don’t ask to cancel meetings on a whim, we need to ride in races to earn our living.
I’m going to Cape Town today, mainly to ride No Worries in the Calulo Services Premier Trophy. At this stage I will probably also be riding him in the Queen’s Plate – although he should struggle at weight-for-age and the 1600m of that race could be too short for him. His main target is his following race, the J&B Met. The 2000m will be more in his favour and he’ll be getting weight from the top horses.
I’m hoping he wins today – he needs to run a decent race if he’s to have any chance in the Met.
He’s run some crackers from the front and it’s possible we’ll end up there again. I think the blinkers should be taken off because when I’ve ridden him before he’s travelled hard (and that was without blinkers). I’m hoping he’ll settle better this time. He must be included in all bets.
His dangers could be Master Of My Fate, who is probably still on the upgrade, and One Cool Dude, who has also done little wrong and ran second to smart Gold Onyx.
Run For It is the best-handicapped horse but needs a fast pace and everything to go his way. He will appreciate the long straight, though.
I’m riding Gifford in Race 3 and he’s got a big chance, but Destiny Driven and It Is Written have only had two runs each and could make a lot of improvement. Box the Trifecta.
My mount in Race 5, Snowbelle, comes out of a Maiden Plate and it’ll be hard for her to follow up. The horse to beat here is lightly raced Souk, who’s drawn at No 1.
Parado, who I’m riding in Race 6, doesn’t seem to have much of a chance while Petara is weighed to get beaten many lengths in the Unical Shipping Victress Stakes. The horse we all have to beat here is Jet Aglow, who would be giving Petara 10kg in a handicap.
Sovereign Sound, my mount in the last race, hasn’t been beaten that far of late, but he’s a six-year-old, so younger, improving Silicone Valley and Sail South look the two to fight it out.
Let’s take a look at the Turffontein programme.
Be Mine Tonight is a nice big filly who has raced only once. While she was soundly beaten in third, she’s the one to beat in Race 2. Don’t go overboard because I have no idea how good the first-timers are.
The best-handicapped horses should fight it out in Race 3 – Magico and Sharp Design. They’re all you need for Place Accumulator perms. She’s A Stunner is one to include in same-race exotic bets. I rode her last time after a long rest. She needed the run quite badly and pulled early. I’m expecting a lot of improvement, especially because this race is over 1000m.
Two horses stand out in Race 4. Apple Tart has had many chances but will eventually get it right. Coby can improve on her debut effort but is coming off a bad draw.
Race 5 is tough. I’m leaning towards Killua Castle, who ran a cracker in the Summer Cup and has a good draw again. Smanjemanje and Glorious Jet ran from bad draws in the Summer Cup and could get into the argument this time. For Pick 6 perms, consider also including Rock Cocktail (although I’m not sure about his fitness after a 140-day rest) and Wild One, who can make big improvement with only 52kg.
My first pick in Race 6 is The Barbadian, although Pocket Filler can beat him at these weights. The Barbadian has not run many bad races and has lots of scope for improvement. Plus he gets the benefit of a 4kg claiming apprentice and a good draw. Bamako ran badly last time out but maybe didn’t stay the 3200m. He’s met stronger opposition in the past. Global Strike also meets weaker now but might need a couple more runs to peak. To be safe, Pick 6 players should consider putting in the field.
Race 7 is another open race. I’m going to side with the horses who have better draws – Atamasco, Updike and What A Boytjie. The Saint is an obvious runner but he’s got a very bad draw and might have to come from far back yet again.
My tip in Race 8 is Queen Eliza. She’s been running over further and against much stronger company. To think she ran Summer Cup fancy Ilha Bela to three lengths! She should be good enough to win in this kind of company. Those worried about her coming back to a sprint distance from 1600m should put in Love Vivien.
My best bet comes in Race 9 in the form of Kings V. She’s got the strongest form and could be a banker. What worries me is that she’s wearing blinkers for the first time and sometimes they can make a horse over-race first time up. Those who believe she could run her race too early should back her up with Crown Of Roses, who wasn’t beaten that far last time and stayed on well off a fast pace, and Var’s Die Geld.