“Exam passed; no further action required.” Insufficient recovery time was the explanation given for Hawwaam’s scratching from tomorrow’s Racing Association Pinnacle Stakes at the Vaal but his absence clears the way for Cirillo and Sean Tarry’s contingent in the 1400m event.
Cirillo was a member of the sophomore elite last season and although mostly finding one or two to finish in front of him, Tarry’s runner boasts an exceptional record and may well have given Hawwaam a searching test had the later stood his ground.
Third behind Rainbow Bridge and Soqrat in the Gr1 Champions Cup at Hollywoodbets Greyville on the last Saturday of the season – two high-class performers – Tarry had kept his charge on the boil for much of the early part of this year and the colt will have welcomed the three-month break.
But with the Cape Summer season on the horizon and Champions Season in the offing, it is back to business.
With Hawwaam out of the picture, Cirillo faces a field of mostly well exposed older horses who would be hard-pressed to make it at the highest level. In truth, Cirillo will have to turn in a well-below par performance to get beaten.
The one possible improver is stable companion Tierra Del Fuego. Current form suggests that he is no where in the class of Cirillo but he is still a young horse and was a more than comfortable winner of his seasonal debut. He is in receipt of 8kg from Cirillo, but even that should not be enough.
Gelding can do wonders for a colt’s behaviour and more importantly his concentration in races and Leprechaun can weave a bit of Irish magic in the second. A 7-1 chance in early exchanges, Mike and Adam Azzie’s charge showed in two starts that he is not short of pace but was reported to be making a respiratory noise. The addition of a tongue-tie could sort that problem and now that he is ‘two stones’ lighter he looks a fair price to ante-post favourite Duke Of York who has been costly to follow.
With nine races carded, the PA kicks off in the third where backers face a tricky race. If Duke Of York does not perform, Johan Janse van Vuuren backs up with four competitive runners, best of which could be Magnificus. Like his stable companion, he has been running on the Hollywoodbets Greyville poly but is showing some improvement. Lady Scarletina and Supreme Win take on males but both have light weights and are a must inclusion in all exotics. A possible upset could come in the form of Grey Power with Tony Nassif engaging log-leading rider Warren Kennedy. Current ante-post favourite is the Sean Tarry debutant Nebraas.
Single Red Rose will be a popular choice in the opening leg of the Pick 6. She has yet to finish out of the money and must have a change of fortune sooner rather than later. Pun intended. Tartan Dancer, a close-up second last Saturday, could be a threat. The blinkers may go back on – keep an eye on the changes.
Hawwaam may be a casualty on the day but the De Kock stable is firing on all cylinders and Masaaqaat should start a short-priced favourite in the fifth. She showed up well in her seasonal debut, finishing with a rattle, and the extra furlong should count in her favour. She should dominate along with Cosmic Ray, who has put in two smart efforts and was a touch unlucky last run. She looks the biggest threat to the favourite.
The sixth is a difficult handicap and the advice is to load up as many as possible in the exotics. Tokyo Drift is a little long in the tooth but has put in two promising recent efforts and should go well in this company while Movie Magic, Lazarus Tree and Norland appeal as likely challengers.
The last two races are also tricky affairs. In the eighth, Golden Spiral is in cracking form and although taking on stronger here she must have a decent winning chance. Scent Of Evening took on a strong field last time out and takes on a lot weaker here. She has a big weight and should at least be competitive. Zulu Dawn and recent maiden winner Land Of Rubies can also feature prominently.
Hidden Agenda is another seasoned campaigner but has not been out of the money since his last win. He stays the trip and could finally have a change of luck. Nimcha has improved in blinkers and has only been run out of it late in his last two starts while At Hand was a comfortable winner under Hailey Turner last Saturday. He does not have the best of draws here. He will get a penalty but may also be scratched. Kurt’s Approval is another to consider as he has his first run for a new stable. Muzi Yeni stays with the ride and they can go close.
By Andrew Harrison