The Vaal Classic track has an eight race meeting tomorrow and there are some opportunities for punters amid generally competitive racing.
Major Return is chosen as the exotics banker in race six over 2000m. He ran on well from a handy position last time in a Pinnacle Stakes race over 1800m which was stronger than the field he faces tomorrow. He has a fair draw with S’Manga Khumalo up and will relish stepping back up to the trip of his last win. Top Shot could be the main danger despite having been kept to further lately as he has a good record over this distance and has dropped to a competitive mark.
The meeting starts off with a 1000m maiden and Orchid Express could be the one to beat. She was slow away on debut over this trip but caught the eye running on strongly late. She is by Oratorio, whose progeny tend to improve continuously, and being from the Johan Janse van Vuuren yard she should come on considerably from that debut run. Madame Patrice will likely lead and will make a bold bid to stay in front all the way to the line having been run out if it in her last two starts. Samoa likely needed her last start after a layoff of over a year and could earn.
In the second race over 1000m the first-timer Rock The Kazvar makes appeal. He is a Team Valor homebred by Var out of the decent Western Winter mare My Kazzie, who won a Listed race having finished second in both the Grade 1 Golden Slipper over 1400m and the Grade 1 Thekwini Stakes over 1600m as a two-year-old. The one concern is that this colt’s full-sister failed to place in seven starts, although she was My Kazzie’s first foal. Golden Duke will be improving being by Duke Of Marmalade and can build on his debut when leading over 1200m round the turn before being swamped and finishing about ten lengths back. Live By Night is an improving sort who has been right there in his last three starts and he will make a bold bid from the front. All three will have to be included in the PA in this tricky opening leg.
In the next leg over 1200m In The Dance is easily the best weighted horse and has the class to win in her seasonal reappearance. This Gimmethegreenlight filly is a half-sister to Capetown Noir and possesses a similarly superb turn of foot. She also has natural speed and in the three sprint starts she has contested she has won two and finished a narrow second in the other. Ouro is a decent sprinter who is well drawn and she showed signs of a form return last time when 3,75 lengths behind the useful Sarah. The Fifth Wave has ability and should make her presence felt from pole position.
The fourth race is a Pinnacle Stakes event over 2400m and Ali Bon Dubai makes plenty of appeal. He showed in his last two starts of last season in the Grade 3 Betting World 2200 and the eLan Gold Cup he had improved into a useful horse capable of mixing it with the best over middle distance and staying distances. He confirmed that with a good comeback run over 1800m. Nathan Klink stays aboard and his 1,5kg claim will alleviate Ali Bon Dubai’s weight disadvantage in which he is officially 3,5kg under sufferance with the best weighted horses, Seville Orange and Sunshine Silk. Dawn Assault won well over 2600m after a layoff last time and is the best weighted male in the race, being 2kg under sufferance with the two best in fillies. He is a courageous horse and with Warren Kennedy in the irons should be given every chance, so is rated the chief threat. Sunshine Silk was a revelation when stepped up to staying trips last time and beat her stable companion Ali Bon Dubai over the too sharp 1800m trip last time in her seasonal reappearance. They face each other on the same terms and she should relish this step up in trip, so will not be a surprise winner.
The fifth race over 2400m is wide open. Master And Man is drawn in pole and has Kennedy aboard so should give a good account of himself coming off a third place finish in a decent field over 2600m. Slay The Dragon also has a good draw and the last time he tried this course and distance he failed by a neck despite casting a shoe. In his only subsequent start he was charging late over 2000m and just failed so off a two point higher mark he should be in the shake up again. Dickens has always struck as one with ability and having won easily in the maidens last time when stepped up to 2000m he is interesting stepped up again and running off a reasonable opening handicap mark. However, a case can be made for just about every horse in this race so it is advisable to go as wide as possible in the exotics.
In the seventh race over 2000m Port Key goes for a hattrick and as it is his third run after a long layoff he should be cherry ripe and can overcome a three point raise for his last win. However, he does have a tough draw to overcome. Nimcha in in fine form and won the only start he had over this course and distance. He also has a tricky draw and as a handy type will need some luck in running. Matloob was a touch disappointing last time when starting hot favourite over 1800m. He was found to be coughing and as a typically progressive son of Silvano can bounce back from a fair draw. Jagesa Jagesa goes for a hattrick over this distance so can’t be ignored. If he is included then Rocky Path also comes into the equation as he is together with the former on a combination of form and weight. Corrido is drawn in pole and is another one to consider.
The meeting ends with a Maiden for three-year-old fillies over 1450m and Aztec looks the one to beat. She made a decent debut over 1200m considering she was difficult to load and she will appreciate the step up in trip being by What A Winter out of a Jet Master mare who won three on the trot from 1600m to 1800m. Smiley River has run well in two races from 1400m to 1600m and as she runs on well the high draw should not be too much of a concern. Get Set was not disgraced behind some good sorts in her first three starts as a two-year-old from 1000m to 1200m and could provide some value for a place in this race over a likely suitable trip from a wide draw.
By David Thiselton