The Work Riders’ Challenge is strongly supported by Phumelela, the Racing Association and the Racing Trust and there is R50,000 to be won at the three meetings devoted to the competition. Riders earn points for each mount who finishes in the top four positions and the work rider who accumulates the most points over the three meetings will take home R20,000.
The second-placed rider earns R10,000 with R5,000 going to the third-placed rider. In addition, the work rider who amasses the most points at each of the three meetings will win R5,000.
Last year Semela beat off Mosia and Jackson Feni to win the title but he could be put under pressure in this first leg.
Sadly for Semela his best ride of the day – Silent Force in Race 2 – coasted to victory last Thursday, and as she is no longer a maiden, she has been withdrawn. Mabaya has landed two plum rides for the Mike de Kock yard and is expected to have a big chance of winning Race 1 on Mink Trip and Race 6 on Sole Mio.
Mink Trip will be having her first outing on the sand but if she does handle the surface, the daughter of Trippi looks in a different class to her opposition. Last time she took on a field of winners over 1600m on the Turffontein inside track and ran on well to finish just 2.75 lengths behind Besame Mucho.
This time she will race over 1800m and back in maiden company should be hard to beat.
Sole Mio in Race 6, an MR 72 Handicap over 1200m, has had the benefit of a sand run and did well to run a 3.25-length third behind Gold Prospector over 1000m in the Sophomore 1000 (Non-Black Type) on Emerald Cup day.
The Brazilian-bred son of Elusive Quality should be better over the additional 200m and with the aid of a No 2 draw, should be a banker in all bets.
However, the best bet on the card could come in Race 7, an MR 72 Handicap over 1600m, in which trainer Weiho Marwing saddles Judge The Stride. The three-year-old gelding had had two very good runs at the track and the form has been backed up.
His first run on the surface came after a five-month layoff and he tired late to finish 0.50 lengths behind Tobe Turf Terror. He easily beat Ajuba by 2.75 lengths over the course and distance next time and the runner-up came out and won by 3.75 lengths last Thursday.
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