Kangaroo Jack is the highest-rated runner in the R400,000 Joburg Spring Challenge (Grade 2) over 1450m on the Turffontein Inside Track this Saturday and trainer Gary Alexander is “expecting a nice run”.
The final field for the race, to be run at weight-for-age plus penalties for Grade 1 and Grade 2 wins, will only be announced today, but Alexander-trained four-year-olds Kangaroo Jack and Champagne Haze are both certain to make the cut.
Kangaroo Jack, a Grade 2 winner last season, is well drawn at No 6, but received a punitive hike in the merit ratings after winning the Grade 3 Spring Spree Stakes over 1200m in his seasonal debut.
Now rated 113, the handicappers rate him 0.50 lengths better than seven-year-old Night Trip and three lengths superior to next highest-rated runner New Predator.
Trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren’s charge New Predator, who is also a Grade 2 winner, is probably underrated at 107, but drew at No 23 of the 26 entries in a race where many experts believe a good draw is crucial, while Night Trip fared only one better.
Alexander said: “Kangaroo Jack has prepped very nicely for this and his work has been good.”
Last year’s CTS Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup winner Champagne Haze, who will be making his return from a winter break and gelding, is another top sort. He drew at No 2 and will probably be ridden by Lyle Hewitson.
“We are preparing him for the Emperors Palace Charity Mile so he will be in need of the run,” said the Turffontein-based trainer. “He’s a good horse, a nice type, and is doing well in his work at home. I’ll be over the moon if he runs into the places.”
Kangaroo Jack is unlikely to join Champagne Haze in the line-up for the Charity Mile at Turffontein on Saturday 5 November because of his high merit rating. “We’ll decide where to go after the Spring Challenge,” said Alexander. “If Andrew Fortune hops off and says he’ll get 1600m, we might target the HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes next year. If he says no, we’ll restrict him to sprints like the Computaform Sprint.”
Alexander also has a chance in the R400,000 Joburg Spring F&M Challenge (Grade 2) over 1450m. He will saddle six-year-old mare Crown Of Roses, a late entry who also pulled No 2 draw. Alexander has booked Craig Zackey for the ride.
“She was due to run in the WSB Heritage 1200 Fillies and Mares at the Vaal last weekend, but was given a huge weight of 67kg,” said Alexander. “With a lighter weight, that would have been the right race for her. She’s very consistent in this class and from a nice draw, must have a place shout in what looks likely to be a top field.”
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