Stuart Pettigrew is not an unfamiliar face in KZN, or more accurately that of his assistants, but when he sends a raider it is mostly prudent to sit up and take notice. Seattle Force arrives at Hollywoodbets Scottsville on Sunday with exemplary Highveld form and should make a bold bid in the UmThombothi Stakes (Non-Black Type).
But the four-year-old will not have all his own way given the structure of the weights and the likes of Marchingontogether, the highest rated runner in the race, is set to get 4 kg from Seattle Force.
That said, one has consistent form, for the other, one has to look into a crystal ball.
A strong front-runner, Seattle Force has hardly been out of the money in recent outings and has been competing useful Highveld company. He was a beaten favourite behind Hero’s Honour on the Turffontein inside track last time out when weakening late but was only three lengths back. Prior to that he was caught late by the former KZN-based filly Flichity By Farr.
Going along with good recent form could be the way to go but Marchingontogether looks tossed in at these weights in spite of his rather dismal recent showings.
He made no show in the November Handicap and Summer Cup but did show a return to something like his better form when two-lengths off The Dazzler in the Christmas Handicap. That was followed by another disappointing effort when drawn wide in the Michael Roberts Handicap that was switched from Hollywoodbets Scottsville to the Hollywoodbets Greyville poly.
He was given a three-point relief in the ratings after that showing and the fact that Warren Kennedy has opted for this ride ahead of Michael Roberts fourth-placed Blackball suggests that Marchingontogether could prove the pick of the Gavin van Zyl pair.
Blackball, drawn widest of the 13 runners here, was only a length back to GG’S Dynasty in the Michael Roberts and a little over a length back to The Dazzler in the Christmas Handicap, both times finishing ahead of Marchingtontogether with Kennedy in the irons. Raymond Danielson gets the call-up on Sunday.
Stuart Ferrie has been holding the fort while Dennis Drier has been trying to pluck a few plums in Cape Town and Ferrie saddles Wealthy who has an excellent record at Scottsville where he has recorded five of his six wins. He was beaten four lengths in the Michael Roberts but prior to that went down narrowly to the much improved Merlin From Berlin in a Chapter Challenge final. He does appear to be a couple of lengths better at Scottsville and victory will not come as a surprise.
The Dazzler and Silver Rose will have supporters while Dark Moon Rising may need another outing to find form. White Lightning is always knocking at the door which could pen soon while Twice Golden and Great Warrior are in the deep end but do have scope and light weights.
Van Zyl can get Pick 6 punters off to a good start when he saddles Wave in the opening leg. It is a Graduation Plate where all the stats point in his favour but he is up against opposition that boasts some useful form.
Touched off by the poly specialist Di Mazzio last time out, this extended trip back on the turf should be a benefit.
Promising Pearl Of Asia, winner of his first two starts, ran out of gas last time out but races with a tongue-tie for the first time and could still have more improvement to come.
By Andrew Harrison