Seasoned trainer Pat Lunn knows his way around a thoroughbred but competitive horses were hard to come by in the latter part of his career forcing him to hand in his trainer’s brief. Leading Highveld trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren was quick to recognise a good horse when he saw one and Lunn is now his KZN assistant.
Model Man and Northern Princess – who could ever forget the match race between Northern Princess and Senor Santa that attracted a massive crowd – were two of Lunn’s best horses but he also had a way with sprinters and his expertise was to the fore when Robberg Express won at Scottsville back in December last year.
A bleeder with dodgy engineering up front, Lunn did a superb job in getting the gelding to the races. “He’s a bad bleeder and does not have the best of legs,” Lunn confided after that win. “I did not do a lot with him before this race, hoping that he would run fresh. He’s a good horse.”
Rider Keagan de Melo echoed those sentiments and said his mount had strengthened up and was good enough to win a few more races.
Robberg Express gets his chance at Hollywoodbets Scottsville on Sunday where he takes on a useful field of sprinters in the sixth. That last win came in yielding going and with some precipitation predicted for the weekend, give in the ground and a light weight can see Robberg Express home.
Clinton Binda is becoming something of a regular to KZN and on a tricky card he could get Pick 6 punters off to a winning start in the third with the lightly raced filly Afriel. She does not face the strongest of maiden fields and was narrowly beaten in her second start at the Vaal. Anton Marcus gets the leg up. Of the balance Chanel allure started at long odds last outing but made marked improvement in blinkers and a repeat could see her finish in front of Noble Freedom again who has shown recent improvement. Upset material could come in the form of True Jewel who found strong market support at her last start on the Highveld and although finishing down the field may be worth including in the exotics.
The balance of the card looks decidedly tricky.
In the fourth, Popova has been showing signs of returning to form for her new stable and with a light weight and a good draw must have a big chance. Bint El Malak regained her position at the top of the log for the Hollywoodbets Sizzling Summer Challenge when finishing third on Wednesday after gaining entry via the reserve bench at Scottsville yesterday. Paul Lafferty has every intention of letting her line up again on Sunday, “depending on how she pulls up,” he said. She has been doing well from poor draws.
Itsapleasure is lightly raced but has shown promise while Suzie Woo has a tough draw to overcome but her form has been franked and she has been showing good work at home.
Louise Goosen saddles Gravitation in the fifth and the signs point to a good run. He has only had three outings for Goosen, the first a disaster when dislodging his work rider, but he has since put up two good sprints. The son of Rock Of Gibraltar is bred for this trip and with a light weight and a good draw he makes plenty of appeal and Goosen is hopeful of a big effort.
Marcus has stuck with the luckless but always consistent Roy’s Physco but it has been a long wait between drinks. He looks the biggest threat to Gravitation as he is never far back and a second win is long overdue.
By Andrew Harrison