The Vaal nine race meeting is competitive and those who do their homework can hope for some healthy dividends in the exotics.
In the first race Jackpot Jewel moved up well over 1600m last time out before plugging on for second and the step down to 1400m here could be the answer. Warren Kennedy has kept the ride. Latest Craze was drawn in pole over this trip on the Turffontein Inside track last time and he ran on well from a handy position to finish a decent 1,30 length second to the promising Cornish Pomodoro. Curious and Semper Fi both stayed on well last time over this course and distance for places. The former could reverse form from a more favourable draw by trends. Twice The Surge stayed on well over 1200m in a workriders maiden and should improve over this trip so has a big chance. Gold Rock stayed on for fourth over this trip last time from a handy position and he should be thereabouts again.
In the second race over 1400m Peaceontherocks is a progressive sort who just failed to catch the winner Midnight Top last time over course and distance. The connections will be hoping there is no draw bias as she is drawn two. Theatre Of Dreams has not run since last August but being by Ideal World she might well have benefited from the rest. Franklin caught the eye running on well from way back in the Million Maiden over 1160m and should relish the step up in trip. Maculate had to be eased at one stage over 1600m last time when staying on but the step down in trip is not sure to suit. Ella Bean stayed on quite well over course and distance last time and could earn.
In the third over 1400m Emerald Crest caught the eye flying up late over this trip last time and she looks to be a scopey sort. Cotopaxi stayed on well over this trip and if Peaceontherocks wins the second the form will have been franked. Both the first two choices have potentially unfavourable low draws, Pavlova Project tended to oevrreace a bit over 1600m before a layoff so should run well fresh over this trip. Loralei was not disgraced on debut and could improve. Anatura should enjoy the step up in trip.
In the fourth race over 1600m Dual At Dawn looks to be a decent sort and won her maiden well last time over 1400m. He is by Vodacom Durban July winner Pomodoro, although his dam was speedy which creates a slight concern. Whipping Boy was a revelation last time with first time blinkers on and despite running past the field on what appeared to be the unfavourable inside he stormed through to win easily. He now has high flying Craig Zackey aboard, although he does have to give Dual At Dawn 1,5kg. Stone Judgement beat Dual At Dawn when winning his maiden over 1400m by 1,75 lengths and is now only 1kg worse off, although the latter has improved. He is by Judpot which gives him a chance of enjoying the step up in trip, although he is also out of quite a speedy mare. Trapiche is up against the boys but has fine form over this trip. August Rain looks to have plenty of scope so is another must include.
The fifth over 1100m provides a good opportunity for in-form Candice Dawson to pick up another winner with the relatively unexposed but seemingly decent Illusion. Warren Kennedy stays aboard which is a bonus. Oden has flawless recent sprint form and should make another bold bid despite being five points higher for his last win. Prince Of Venice has always struck as one with some class and should also be in the mix.
In the next race over 1800m could Flichity By Farr proved last time she had acclimatised to the Highveld. David Nieuwenhuizen keeps them in form well and the filly, who has a resolute, enjoys middle distances on courses with long straights. Jet Star is capable of a strong finish too and is also distance suited. Return Flight is a dual Grade 1 winner and will go close if able to dictate in front, although Seville Orange might challenge her for the lead. The latter is not out of it and Pretty Border can’t be ignored either.
In the seventh Shabba Ranks is chosen as the best bet on a tricky card despite a wide draw as he stayed on well last time in a good field over 1600m with the blinkers back on and he should relish the step back up in trip. He should be coming into his own being by Jackson and is two points lower in the merit ratings. Royal Honour stayed on well over 2000m last time and is in consistent form. Christopher Robin is not sure to stay the trip being out of a speedy mare but his sire Damage Is Done won over 2000m which gives him hope and he is in fine form. Others to consider are Kurt’s Approval, At Hand, who gets a good draw for a change, and Therevada.
The eighth is an interesting event over 1400m and the question is whether Scent Of Evening can repeat her fine effort last time when beating a good field in a Pinnacle Stakes race. She has always had talent but has issues. Preference is for Flying High who should be coming into her own. Gallic Princess is in good form and should make a bold bid and Too Phat To Fly and Rockin Russian have the class to contest it.
In the last over 1400m Ex’s N Ohs comes back from a deserved break and being by Jackson should be coming into her own so should be right there. Kapama looks to be the main danger. Oceania, Midnight Top and Tahitian Orana should also be considered.
By David Thiselton