This time of the year is traditionally greatly looked forward to by the more astute and patient punters of the SA racing fraternity as it heralds the arrival of the summer rains and trainers have their best horses tuned like machines to take advantage of the more forgiving going.
Unfortunately the rains are yet to arrive and there is no sign of them in the forecast this weekend, where the highlight is a MR 104 Handicap over 1200m.
The latter race is difficult to analyse, but Grade 2 Post Merchants winner La Bella Mia is given the nod. She has a wide draw to overcome but will be fit, having had recent runs, and has a 4kg claimer up. She has won over this course and distance before and many of the opponents she faces have question marks against them. If she gets the necessary luck in running she will go close.
Winter Storm struck as one who was headed for the top in the sprinting division last season but by the end of the term he needed a layoff and disappointed in his last couple of starts. He should have come on from his comeback run last time. Interestingly, the blinkers have been removed and with Warren Kennedy aboard he has every chance of overcoming a tough draw.
Warrior’s Rest is a highly effective front-runner but such is his style, in which he continually ups the pace, it is essential he gets to the front as he lacks turn of foot when sitting behind a slow pace. This trip is too sharp, so he could battle to get to the front, but he is well drawn so might be worth including. State Trooper is capable of running on so is interesting from a tricky draw. Attenborough had a disappointing last season but this Grade 1 winner can’t be ignored over an ideal trip from a plum draw.
In the previous race, a MR 99 Handicap over 1800m, Silver Spectrum appears to be on the up and can follow up on his last win off a five point higher mark. Green Haze has some class and will be a threat. He has run once over this trip and appeared to not stay. However, he is now having his third run after a layoff and gelding so he should be given another chance, especially being by miler Gimmethegreenlight out of a Western Winter mare who won twice over this trip. Popsicle Toes looks to be an ever improving sort and he will also be right there over a suitable trip if able to overcome a tough draw.
In the seventh race, a MR 92 handicap for fillies and mares, Ouro is the narrow first choice. She has some class and has bounced back to form this season after ending last season on a disappointing note. Double ‘O’ Eight has a tough draw and a welter 61,5kg to carry but has a fine turn of foot, so if finding a good position in the running she will go close. Three Stars improved last time with second time blinkers on when running second, finishing three-quarters of a length in front of Ouro. She has a good draw, but is half-a-kilogram worse off with Ouro, who likely needed that run. Blonde Vision is a small but zippy sort and with first-time blinkers on she can’t be ignored. Twelve Oaks is capable of popping up and is effective over this trip so will be dangerous from a plum draw with a 4kg claimer aboard.
It should be an enjoyable meeting but many will be keenly anticipating the arrival of the summer rains.
By David Thiselton