It has been nearly two years since Kings Archer recorded the last of his six victories but the now eight-year-old has lost none of his zest for racing. He is due to line up in the eighth race on the Turffontein inside track tomorrow and although he has the worst of the draw, he only faces eight runners – possibly seven as Culture Trip was due to start at the Vaal yesterday.
Stuart Pettigrew has kept the son of AP Arrow on the boil throughout the year and from a handicap high of 100, Kings Archer was as low as a 75 before the universal 10-point hike in the ratings.
He has been close-up in both recent starts and should have an outstanding chance in this small field.
The Paul Peter / Warren Kennedy combination yielded many winners this past season and they team up with ante-post favourite Bien Venue who makes his debut for the stable. The gelding’s recent form is solid but he does have to give the selection 2kg which may be beyond his compass.
Punters face a competitive card but Dickens should get them through the opening leg of the Place Accumulator. Johan Janse van Vuuren’s gelding finally cracks a decent draw but will face stiff opposition from the likes of Port Key and Segontium.
Callan Murray has his first ride back in the country on Port Key after leaving Singapore last week so he will be keen to get his local season off to a winning start on Mike de Kock’s runner.
The four-year-old has only had one outing, that nearly a year ago, where he finished his race off well. He has obviously had issues so it could pay to keep an eye on the market.
Another trainer / jockey combination that has blossomed is that of Gary Alexander and apprentice Denis Schwarz. Alexander has been instrumental in giving Schwarz opportunities and to date the young rider has not disappointed. He teams up with See Me Run in the opening leg of the jackpot, the filly narrowly beaten on the Greyville poly last time out. The blinkers go on for the first time and from draw one, See Me Run may be the horse to beat with Piccadilly Square a possible threat.
The fifth is a punter’s nightmare and the ante-post market has priced up 4-1 the field. Joint favourites are Lasair and Zabarjad, both ex-Mike de Kock, with Paul Peter having a second string to his bow in top weight Seventh Of June.
It’s not an easy race but Flame Fella has been re-united with Muzi Yeni for Bertie Sage and his last showing is best ignored. He could be good value at 11-1.
Punta Cana is the top-rated horse in the sixth, a Graduation Plate, but has been a well beaten third at his last two.
A better proposition could be Jonny Hero. It’s tough for newly turned three-year-olds in this early part of the season but Tyrone Zaki’s charge finished with a rattle to win at the tail end of late season and from a good draw should at least be competitive.
Another to consider is Joey Soma’s charge Roll Of Drums. He ran way below form in the SA Classic behind Hawwaam and has since been gelded. His form before that was useful and if anywhere near his best he will be right there.
Banking on a horse to win four on the bounce can be risky but Promise is unbeaten over course and distance in the seventh and can justify her 2-1 odds. She has galloped all into the ground in those three wins and the opposition must be wise to those tactics by this time.
Yeni is one rider not afraid to take them on up front and Tehuano was up there all the way since being tried in blinkers. She has been trying further of late but she could be better suited to this shorter trip.
The last is another difficult race and it could well pay to load up this leg in the exotics.
By Andrew Harrison