In spite of his respiratory problems, Blackball has been an honest servant for Gavin van Zyl and his many owners and he looks set for his eighth visit to the winner’s circle when he lines up in the Intelligent Solutions Pinnacle Stakes on the turf at Hollywoodbets Greyville on Sunday.
The race is almost a re-run of the recent Umthomboti Stakes at Hollywoodbets Scottsville where Blackball ran out a convincing winner in spite of stable companion Marchingontogether starting favourite.
Raymond Danielson, who rode Blackball, said he was puzzled at first why Warren Kennedy had chosen Marchingontogether ahead of Blackball. “I was scratching my head a bit why Warren picked the other one then I saw the weight difference and he was probably on the right one.”
The boot is on the other foot come Sunday with a four length and 4.5kg turn around in favour of Blackball so all things being equal, Marchingontogether will have to start tomorrow to beat his stable companion.
Wealthy has nearly five lengths to make up on Blackball after finishing fourth but he is 4kg better off this time around which brings him well into the picture.
The filly Moon In June steps up in class but Robbie Hill’s charge was a comfortable winner last time out. She is in receipt of 9kg from Blackball which must also put her in the frame.
True To Life made a strong start to her sophomore campaign, beating Ikigai in her seasonal debut and following up in the Magnolia Handicap where she had three lengths to spare over Dancing Queen. She is up against some smart older fillies including former Gr1 Empress Club winner Camphoratus in the Silverline Panel Beating & Spray Painting Conditions Plate.
True To Life’s Highveld form was deemed good enough for her to make the trip to Kenilworth for the Cape Fillies Guineas but it was all in vain as she finished midfield behind Mississippi Burning.
That was not the strongest Guineas field on record but if the merit ratings are anything to go on, she should be right up there.
If Camphoratus, who is rated one-pound better than True To Life under Sunday’s conditions, is anywhere near her best she will give the younger filly a tough race.
She is back on home soil with Robbie Hill after a warm-up over the Turffontein Inner track mile.
Her best recent form has been over ground but she is fully effective over this trip and if not short of a gallop, will be a serious contender.
Also in opposition is Master Keys. She ran a creditable race in the Flamboyant Stakes on Boxing Day from a wide draw and had solid form leading into the race. She is over what looks to be her optimum trip and although the opposing line-up is strong, she is definitely a big runner.
The third is a difficult Fillies and Mares Handicap and it may prove prudent to load up in this the opening leg of the Pick 6. There was a piece of paper separating Mai Tai and Extravargant when last they met and the former went on to frank that form with a win next time out. Extravargant is 1kg better off this time around but the younger filly is still on the up.
Song Of The Forest held on just long enough to hold all at bay last Sunday over the Hollywoodbets Scottsville 1400m and she should appreciate this shorter trip. Love Theme, Someone Exciting and At Your Request are all live runners.
The balance of the card is made up of rats and mice maidens where any form could prove suspect.
By Andrew Harrison