Anton Marcus will make his long awaited comeback to race riding on Friday night at Greyville and among his six rides are three talented Gavin van Zyl-trained horses, Wave, Railtrip and Whizz Of Odds.
Marcus said last week his wrist and knee had “improved” from the state they were in before surgery and believed fitness would be his main obstacle.
However, Van Zyl had no concerns about the latter and said, “When Anton Marcus is riding your horse you know he will be ready. He is a professional. He will start off where he left off from and will be a force to be reckoned with for as long as he puts his backside on a saddle.”
Ironically, Marcus was able to pick up those three rides because the national log leading jockey, Warren Kennedy, who is Van Zyl’s stable jockey, is sitting out a one week suspension.
KZN racing can look forward to a fierce rivalry between the pair as Kennedy has recently looked more and more capable of filling the gap left by the retirement of Marcus’s arch rival Anthony Delpech.
Van Zyl has no doubt Kennedy will fill the gap and added, “He will give Anton a run for his money. But Warren’s agent will have to sharpen his pencil and be quick on the draw to outmanoeuvre Anton for the best spare rides. Anton picks his rides himself and is very choosy. He is as sharp as a two-edged blade. You know anything he asks to ride has a chance, especially when he phones, because you know he will have done his homework and handpicked the horse. His ability to pick them out is why he has such a phenomenal strike rate in KZN.”
Kennedy’s one advantage over Marcus will be the strength of the Van Zyl strings.
Gavin probably has the strongest string in KZN at present and his son Gareth, who also has Kennedy as his stable jockey, also has some good horses.
Gavin is currently in joint second place on the log with twelve winners and Gareth is in joint seventh with seven.
Gavin said about his three Marcus-ridden horses on Friday night, “Whizz Of Odds barrier trialed well but unfortunately has a bad draw. But we are taking our chances because she is very quick. I rate her and she has a good winning chance.”
“Wave is Grade 1-placed and comes back from a rest. He is not quite where I want him but is good enough to run well in this competitive field. If they have a place chance, they have a winning chance. He was caught wide in the Grade 1 Premier’s Champion Stakes without cover and didn’t stay so we are going to stick to sprints with him. We have fitted him with blinkers so he should get out of the pens quicker. A couple of times at Greyville he has been sluggish, especially at night.”
“Railtrip finished second in a Grade 1 as a two-year-old and we have sorted out some problems with her, so she is back to her best. She is looking for further than this 1700m but she is well prepared and should be competitive.”
By David Thiselton