Harding is one ahead of Danie van Tonder and Charl Coetzee, with Ross Wellington, Jacques Blaauw, Keith Horne and Adilson da Silva two back.
Van Tonder is enjoying the step-up in his career after a maiden victory in the Royal Swazi Open, Blaauw was a two-time winner on this series last year, and Da Silva finished second in the event last year.
Harding is playing Euphoria for the first time as a professional, having last teed it up here in his final amateur tournament in 2009.
Harding did not play the event in 2013, when the Annika Sorenstam designed course really tested the field. A total of eight under par won, and only eight players finished the tournament under par.
“Last year’s scores scared me a bit,” said Harding.
“It’s a long and demanding golf course. We had no wind today, but when it does get a bit windy I can imagine it can get tricky here. It is a long grind, though.”
Based in Somerset West and unable to practise during a wet last few weeks in the Cape, Harding was fairly relaxed about his chances coming into the week.
“It only took me nine holes in the practice round to get a swing going again.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to play with what you’ve got. I also figured out something on the course in practice. And hitting as many fairways as I did today really helped.”
He recovered from a bogey at the first and went on a run of seven birdies in nine holes thereafter to give him a shot at a first victory since the 2012 Zambia Open.
“It’s nice to be up there again. It’s been a while since I’ve won and I can do with a win.”