The drop in class from Champions Season fields to bread-and-butter fare is dramatic but there are always a few nuggets to be mined no matter what.
Coldhardcash rounded off what for him was a disappointing season at Hollywoodbets Greyville last Wednesday, but Duncan Howells can turn the page for the new season as he saddles a few with definite chances at Hollywoodbets Scottsville on Sunday.
Best of these could come in the last race of the day where stable companions Candy Apple and Rocket Fire could have the race to themselves.
Howells rated Candy Apple as one of his better two-year-olds last season but the colt ran way below expectations in the Gr1 Gold Medallion. He had shown promise before that and races in first time blinkers which could bring out the best in him. Stable companion Rocket Fire was not far back first start out of the maidens, his first run in nearly six months. The spectre of the ‘second-run-after-a-lay-off’ syndrome looms large but he looks a likely threat.
Bravo Zulu was second best behind Coldhardcash on Wednesday but trainer Louis Goosen is confident of another forward showing. “The stable has turned,” he said yesterday, “and Bravo Zulu is my little ATM.”
Bedazzled Joker is another that should be in the firing line as he is holding form well.
Howells saddles the mare High Altar in the sixth where she faces half-a-dozen opponents. She loves this course and distance and was running on well last start over a trip arguably short of her best. Andre Nel saddles the consistent Agenteus who seldom runs a bad race. But she has been off the track since February and if it comes to a tight finish she may just be found wanting.
Of the balance, Classic Guard is lightly raced but has steady form over shorter while Roy’s Pony was only run out of it late by Jamaica Bay on Wednesday. She has a handy galloping weight and can turn the tables on Irish Wonder Girl who got up late to touch her off when tried in blinkers for the first time.
Dennis Drier is the perennial master in KZN and finished on top of the pile for the third season running with his 61 local winners.
So his charge, The Master, is well named and has good form over Sunday’s 1600m trip and has yet to run a bad race. From the best draw he should be right there again although he will face stiff opposition from Farland who has run two promising races over course and distance and his stable is finding form while Noble Joshua, who was an easy winner last start, can go in again.
Howells holds another strong hand in the seventh with his two fillies Wildly In Love and Starlight. Wildly In Love was much improved when tried in a tongue-tie last time out and was only caught late for second, finishing ahead of stable companion and favourite Marsanne. A repeat will see her go close. Miss Calypso has been in good form since returning from a lay-off and was a comfortable winner over the Greyville 1400m on the poly last time out. She showed good pace that afternoon so this 1000m should not be a factor against her.
Of the balance, French Legend found good market support at her last start and has been consistent while Starlight has been in good form since her maiden win and has a light weight.
There are two novel races on the day, the first a work riders plate where Aron Xabendlini will be looking to make it a hat-trick of work rider wins and the second for Drier where he partners Liquidity. The gelding gets first time blinkers and a tongue-tie and he could prove a little too quick for Dancing Princess and Class Of Eight.
The SA Jockey Academy is currently hosting a party of apprentices from Qatar and they get a chance to display there skills in the tenth race, although it will be run between the fourth and fifth races and is not included in any of the exotic bets.
Abdulla Saleh won this race two years back for Paul Lafferty and he will be aboard Lafferty’s runner Mokoko on Sunday but Krishnies Jet and Great Dictator look better propositions.
By Andrew Harrison