The Vaal Classic track tomorrow sees the return of the good prospect Fired Up, who runs in an Assessment Plate over 1600m and is made the meeting banker.
This Rock Of Gibraltar gelding is a typically robust progeny of a Galileo mare and will relish this step up in trip in the second leg of the Pick 6 and first leg of the Jackpot. On debut he showed a good turn of foot and then galloped on resolutely to win a maiden over 1400m. That was despite running from the number one draw, which is often unfavourable on the Vaal straight course.
He impressed the handicappers, who gave him a merit rating of 80, and is thus officially the best weighted horse in this Assessment Plate for three-year-olds. On a line through a horse called Lasair he comes out better on formlines than the second choice Flash Burn, who will enjoy the step down in trip after failing over 2000m last time. Flash Burn is an athletic type and won his maiden in fine style over 1600m. He also has the advantage of a plum draw of three, while Fired Up has to contend with a wide draw of nine, so some will consider including him.
In the second leg of the Jackpot over 1600m Royal Italian goes for his fourth win on the trot. He is a versatile type who can win from handy or rely on his fine turn of foot from off the pace. Last time he won going away over 1500m and the son of Pomodoro should relish the step up in trip. Nordic Rebel is a consistent type but does tend to lose ground at the start. If the 4kg claim of his apprentice is included then he is a whopping 8kg better off with Royal Italian for a 2,25 length beating over 1500m so has a fine chance on paper. Ragoon looks to have a touch of class and he wasn’t suited to a front-running role last time. He still beat Nordic Rebel in that race, although the latter did lose three lengths. Ragoon is drawn in pole and the distance should be ideal.
The third leg of the Jackpot is a tricky 1200m handicap. Only To Win looks to be better than her merit rating suggests as she has been consistently thereabouts in decent fields. She might enjoy this trip as she likes to sit behind horses before turning it on and the faster pace of a race over this trip might well suit her. She could be a banker consideration. However, beyond her a few must be included. It Takes Two was only just touched off by a good sort over this trip in her penultimate start and then won next time, so off a reasonable merit rating here has a chance. Florence, Shadow Queen and Illegal have shown signs of ability and also have to be considered.
The last leg of the Pick 6 could also be won by Mike de Kock, who trains both Fired Up and Only To Win. His charge Gimme Hope Johanna is ultra consistent and is drawn in pole over a suitable 1450m trip. Last time over this trip, also from pole, she went close to the decent gelding Orpheus, so has a big shout back against the girls here. Walnut Dash flashed past the line together with Boutique last time over 1400m and the latter looks to be a good prospect, so she must be included despite a four point merit rated raise. Mistressofmyfate caught the eye on debut so was most disappointing last time. She finished distressed in the latter race and can bounce back. Lady Lexington has caught the eye before as one who would enjoy this step up in trip. Kentucky Blue has a form chance so can also be considered.
The first leg of the Pick 6 is an uninspiring maiden over 1600m. Verdi makes the most appeal as one who was staying on well over this trip last time and went close over this distance three runs ago. The Russian Sailor is improving and looks likely to appreciate the step up in trip after staying on when stepped up to 1400m last time. Mighty Rock would likely prefer further but has fair form and could attempt to gallop them into the ground from a fair draw.
The last leg of the Pick 6 is tough but Royal City looks the one to beat as he won his maiden well over 1160m and is bred to go this 1450m trip. He has faced strong assessment plate fields in his last two and has duly been dropped to a reasonable looking merit rating and is also drawn well. However, it looks to be a contest in which punters will have to go as wide as possible in.
By David Thiselton