Paul Gadsby was caught off guard when the course commentator announced that La Duchesse would be ridden ‘cold’ not having given any instruction to her jockey. In any event, La Duchesse was ridden from off the pace and arrived on the scene too late, snapping a string of placed runs.
Making excuses for beaten horses is bad punting policy but Warren Kennedy is back in the irons for the first at Hollywoodbets Greyville tomorrow evening and La Duchesse may be worth another chance in spite of being labelled a bookies favourite.
Her latest defeat was particularly painful for those that had banked her in their exotics as the field looked ripe for the taking. Tonight, she faces a more competitive line-up. Masters Beauty was much improved last run but may have found the 2000m a touch too far when trying to make all. Lightly raced, she appears to have come to hand and this shorter trip should suit. Imperial Seal comes from an in form stable and has been close up at recent starts while Storm Tune has come to hand and goes well over course and distance and is a must for all bets.
Keeping up with an ever-changing programming can be a testing exercise and for the first time in KZN we have Progress and Graduation Handicaps. The first of these comes in the second, a Progress Handicap (maximum three-time winners capped at MR90) for fillies and mares. Wendy Whitehead has been amongst the winners of late and she saddles Liquid Irish in an exceptionally difficult race with all 11 runners in with some sort of chance. Liquid Irish has only once been out of the money and was a game winner of her last start beating the useful Statute. She is equally at home on the poly and the turf and should be thereabouts. The lightly raced Star Vega won well from a wide draw on her poly debut and may still have more to come. She should start at long odds as should Just One More looks held on current form, but this is her third run after a break and improvement is expected off her light weight. This trio could be the pick in a tough race.
Head Boy is the obvious choice in the third given his consistent form over the trip and the modest opposition but Paddy’s Legacy is the highest rated runner who was badly in need of his last start. He makes his poly debut and had shown some fair Highveld form early in his career. Royal Pursuit showed improvement first time out for his new stable and on the poly. He may be worth following.
Backing horses first up in handicap company is a risky business but Silva Magic finally got it right when coming from a long way back to shed her maiden and second-placed Magic Mountain has franked that form. Silva Magic does face stronger here but is lightly raced and can go in again. Zagara is on her favourite surface and found good market support last outing while Silver Prancer improved last run and her two best recent efforts have been on the poly. Chatty Cathy finally had some luck last run for a well deserved win and is definitely not out of the reckoning.
By the way, JG Guthrie is not a new trainer – Julie Dittmer married Gordon Guthrie last month. All the best Jules.
By Andrew Harrison