Chestnut’s Rocket could make a winning start on the sand

VALUE. Be Mine Tonight looks to be a worthy favourite for the Listed Nkosazana Stakes over 1450m on the Vaal sand today.

While most attention over the autumn Highveld season has been focused on the turf, the emphasis moves to the sand today when two Listed races are run at the Vaal.

The Riverside Handicap and the Nkosazana Stakes for fillies and mares are both contested over 1450m and the draw plays a massive part. Sadly for form studiers, many of the best runners in the Riverside Handicap have landed poor draws, which makes life quite tricky.

The other concern is that All The Bids, who has a record of three wins and three places from seven starts on the Vaal sand, will first run at Flamingo Park today and a lot will depend on how he takes that run.

Shadow Line, who was a lovely contender despite his poor draw, has been scratched, so there are not that many options left. Maybe it is worth going with a horse who is making his sand debut and that is Chestnut’s Rocket. Vaughan Marshall’s charge had a disappointing debut in Gauteng when fading out of contention in the Grade 2 Hawaii Stakes over 1400m at Turffontein, finishing 14.75 lengths behind Chekilli.   

He stumbled coming out of the gates so he does have an excuse. He is by Horse Chestnut from the Fort Wood line and, in general, they love the sand. However, jockey MJ Byleveld will have to overcome No 9 draw which is probably asking a lot of him and he will need luck.

Brooks-Club ran a decent fourth in the Listed Drum Star Handicap over 1800m at Turffontein last time, running on from last to finish 3.75 lengths behind Bouclette Top. Mike Azzie’s charge has a record of one win, one second and two fourth places in five runs over the course and distance.

This is his third run after a layoff and he should be perfectly primed. He is drawn No 8, which does not give jockey Ian Sturgeon too many options.

Solar Triptych would have been my first choice had he drawn better, but jumping from barrier No 13 is no easy task. He has an excellent record of two wins and two seconds in his four starts over the track and trip, but Francois Herholdt will need fortune to smile on him.

The Nkosazana Stakes looks a lot easier with Be Mine Tonight the runner to beat. Dominic Zaki’s charge has an excellent record over the course and distance and showed her well-being with an excellent 1.25-length third behind Whatalady in the Grade 3 Acacia Handicap last month. She has a decent No 5 draw and will be ridden by Ryan Munger.

Jade Vine looks the main danger.





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