There is a nine race meeting at the Vaal tomorrow and the exotics look the way to play it.
The meeting begins with an intriguing Maiden over 1200m which pits Makara against Masaaqaat. The former has not raced since March last year but her form is good with the highlight being a narrow loss to Mill Queen, who has gone on to be a Graded winner. Giving her extra hope after her long rest is that her chief protagonist here Masaaqaat seems to always find one to beat her despite possessing plenty of ability. Another one who could improve to be in the shake up is Malvern. She is by Oratorio so should be improving and her dam was speedy. Furthermore, Warren Kennedy now takes the ride. Samoa and Serenity could also be included in the quartet.
In the second race over 1600m Creation is not a straight forward horse but is well regarded and looks to be full of ability. He can be forgiven his disappointing last start as it was his second run after a long layoff and this 1600m down the straight should suit him. S’Manga Khumalo rides him for the third time in succession. Shenandoah River stayed on after a slow start over 1200m on debut and will also relish the step up in trip. Afraad is a R2,4 million son of Dynasty and is a half-brother to Graham Beck Stakes winner Zen Arcade. He has been disappointing to date but now gets the blinkers on.
The third over 1600m also looks like a three cornered contest. Tilmeeth is improving and having run on late over 1450m she will enjoy the step up in trip. She is a R2.6 million daughter of Captain Al and her half-sister won South Africa’s longest race, the Port Elizabeth Gold Cup over 3600m, so her pedigree also suggests she can win this. Seven Patriots has run three good races over this trip and will be a danger as will Zuluonmystoep who improved last time in her second start over this trip and should be right there if getting a better start.
In the next over 1200m the tall grey filly Sekhmet made a good impression on debut over this trip when staying on strongly to get up and the form has been franked. She starts off handicapping off a lenient mark of 77 so can follow up. Miss Khalifa is interesting stepped down in trip as she stays on well and does have done speed. The Great Queen has hard knocking form over this trip. Midnight Top was narrowly beaten by Sekhmet when they met and now gets 1kg so has a shout on paper. Jenny McGee could earn if reproducing her best.
In the fifth over 1400m Written In Stone is off a good handicap mark at present and proved he likes this trip last time when staying on strongly. Baahir is also off a competitive mark and ran on over this trip last time. Captain Chorus’s debut win over 1200m has been franked and he should relish the step up in trip so has a shout despite carrying top weight.
In the sixth over 1500m the classy pair In The Dance and Vistula should both find this in between distance ideal and will likely fight it out. Mill Queen has had an interrupted campaign but she has class and always give her all so she has to be considered.
In the seventh over 1600m Full Mast became disappointing at one stage but now appears to have come into his own and should go close after running on well in the Grand Heritage. Captain Of Tortuga also ran on well in the Grand Heritage and has a shout here. Lake Kinnaret has a sustained finish and should also be right there despite carrying top weight.
In the eighth over 1600m Elusive Butterfly is knocking on the door and is distance suited. She went close in first time cheek pieces last time and Khumalo stays aboard. Wild Date returns to the trip of her easy Maiden win and the consistent Eightfold’s Lass can’t be ignored. Jetorio is a touch disappointing but this trip might be the answer. Machali won her Maiden well over this trip but looks to have been given a harsh merit rating.
In the last race over 1600m Oh Mercy Me can get it right having improved lately to go close twice over this trip. Miss Lexi might well enjoy the step down in trip. Littlewood has a shout too.
By David Thiselton