Houdalakis saddles Vivacious Star and Jenny Green and it could be the latter who takes the honours. It is generally difficult to assess a horse who has run only once and then lines up in a reasonably strong handicap but there are some elements to indicate Jenny Green could be quite decent.
Her lone start was in a work riders’ race over this course and distance and that is usually perceived as a negative point but the three-year-old filly could not have been more impressive. She lost quite a bit of ground at the start but made up a deficit of more than 14 lengths to beat another first-timer, Classic Traveller, by 1.50 lengths.
The form was franked at Turffontein on Saturday when Classic Traveller came out to beat well-bred debutante Stirling Leaves by 0.50 lengths. The two concerns about Jenny Green are that she went off at 36-1 and the time of 74.32sec was not great.
However, the daughter of Miesque’s Approval could be better than her work at home might suggest. It is interesting to note that the handicapper gave her a merit rating of 83 for that performance.
Secondly, with 4kg-claiming apprentice Jarryd Penny up, she will carry just 48kg. She cannot afford to concede start in this field so it is vital Penny gets her out on terms so he is able to make use of the light weight.
If she does fail, then Houdalakis has solid back-up in the form of Vivacious Star. The five-year-old daughter of Victory Moon has been relatively consistent but did disappoint last time out when fading to finish a 10-length seventh behind Flag Of France. However, she was racing in open company in a MR 94 Handicap over 1400m and gave 3kg to the winner.
She now drops in class and distance and returns to fillies’ company. Even with 61kg on her back, Vivacious Star should be most competitive. Regular jockey Chase Maujean takes the ride.
Lizzy Grey would probably prefer 200m further but will be coming back from a 108-day rest and could race fresh. She has run quite well since joining Chesney van Zyl in Joburg from father Gavin’s KwaZulu-Natal yard and with S’manga Khumalo up, must be a contender.
Best outsider could be Sheen Queen, although with Piere Strydom booked for Ernie Anderson’s charge, bookmakers are unlikely to be too generous.