A winner on debut, Petra was launched straight into the deep end early in her career and Robbie and Shannon Hill were vindicated in their assessment as the filly got off to a quick start when beaten a length into third in the Strelitzia Stakes.
However, from there on she was against the tide but the memory of her early promise lingers on.
Those that kept faith were nearly rewarded when she was touched off in a desperate finish to her last start by Diamond Noir who held on by the shortest of short heads.
That was Petra’s third run after a break and only the seventh of her career. Doing her best work late, she can go one better when she goes the extra furlong in the fourth on the Greyville poly this afternoon.
Should she fail to run up to expectations then Ooh La La and Heart Of A Legend are the pair mostly likely to pick up the pieces.
Ooh La La is a smart filly who at her last outing, slowly wore down Generous Lady to get up close home in spite of losing a couple of lengths at the start. She has been mostly kept to the turf by Doug Campbell but goes very well over this trip.
Anton Marcus and Glen Kotzen teamed up with Temple Grafin and Hugo Hattingh’s Chrigor Stud to win the Gr3 Umzimkulu Stakes on Sunday and that combination hook up again with ante-post favourite Heart Of A Legend.
Taken to the front by Keagan de Melo over the poly track mile last time out, Heart Of A Legend was caught late by Komeshans Flight. She is drawn on the paint today and with Marcus aboard she could start a lot shorter than the current 33-10 on offer.
Exotic bet punters have not had it easy these past few weeks and it doesn’t get any easier this afternoon where the nine-race card is littered with pitfalls and another substantial Pick 6 dividend is on the cards.
It’s 5-1 the field in the opening leg of the Jackpot with The Private, Philos, March Preview and Grande Maestro all joint favourites.
March Preview won well to stronger last outing but took a five-point rise in the ratings for his efforts. That may not be enough to stop him but Pantsula has come to hand again with the blinkers off and was close-up in a useful field last run. Philos took to the poly last run and could prove even more effective over this shorter trip while The Private is overdue another win. He has smart form over course and distance and apprentice Jason Gates takes over in the saddle from Ashton Arries who is on the side-lines after a car accident.
Chesney van Zyl has had a bit of a slow start since re-locating to KZN with his yard in the grip of a virus but Miss Jagger could break the ice in the sixth. The highest rated runner in this maiden field, she was improving nicely on the Highveld before being shipped to the coast. She has had a barrier trial and will much prefer this trip.
Of the balance, Apple Magic shows some promise and improved nicely second time out while Orient Express is holding form although she was a well beaten second last run.
The seventh is another wide open affair but Paul Peter saddles Quebec Queen who could be good value at 8-1 in the ante-post market. She has been busy, having run nearly every fortnight on the Highveld since late December so will be super fit. She steps up in trip and could defy top weight. Stormborne Thunder has come well for her new stable and has a handy weight while Lady Abigail landed a bit of a coup last start and although she steps up in trip and can go in again. Ante-post favourite is Imperial Royal after her two recent wins. She goes well over the trip and is possibly still improving and cannot be left out of any calculations.
The eighth is another difficult handicap where any number have chances. Oratorina is lightly raced but shows some promise. She was possibly in need of her last sprint and should much prefer this trip. Sweet Preserve was a narrow winner last start with a number of today opposition close-up. However, she looks to have some scope and can follow up. Purple And Gold has gone close at her last two while Josephine Baker is long overdue another win.
By Andrew Harrison