The eight race card at the Vaal straight course tomorrow offers fair opportunities for exotic and on-the-nose punters.
In the first race over 1600m Zuluonmystoep is a long-striding scopey sort and the Sean Tarry yard are back in form so he looks the one to beat. Great Esteem had a good draw for a change last time over 1800m and finished a good second to Bellagio King who was subsequently not disgraced in the Listed Derby Trial. He would prefer 1800m but can place in this generally uninspiring field. Pacific Dream was beaten ten lengths on debut over 1200m but as a full-brother to Port Key, who has won twice from 1600m to 2000m and placed four times in all of his starts, he should both improve and relish the step up in trip.
In the second race over 1400m the well regarded Afternoon Tea got off the mark on Saturday after three second place finishes. He should relish this step up in trip. Mynage, who jumps from pole position, will have a chance from a likely handy position. She has been a touch one-paced in the finish in her two runner-up efforts over 1450m, but this is her third run and she is open to improvement. Zernez was not disgraced in her last two starts against stronger than this and on pedigree she should relish this step up in trip.
In the third race over 1400m Fire And Ice is not much to look at but the same can be said of his half-sister Missisippi Burning, who won the Grade 1 Cape Fillies Guineas. He faced some good sorts in his first four races without being disgraced and then won well over 1160m in soft ground last time, beating a decent field of maiden two-year-olds. He has to give 3kg to the non-winners here but that is alleviated by the 4kg claim of Philisande Mxoli and on pedigree and racing style he should relish the step up in trip. Siren Of Greece has finished close up placed in her only two starts, both over 1160m, and being by Duke Of Marmalade out of Siren’s Call, who failed by a stride or to to land the Triple Tiara, she will be improving and will relish the step up in trip. The Paul Peter-trained first-timer Blue Moon City is an interesting first-timer by Marchfield out of a twice-winning Victory Moon mare from 1600m to 1800m.
In the next race over 2400m, the first leg of the Jackpot, Kool Baikal looks a nice sort and is well bred being by Byword out of Fort Wood mare Urabamba, who won the Grade 1 SA Fillies Classic. He was a touch unlucky last time but rallied again after switching and looks to be capable of staying this trip. Abdul has also caught the eye as one who should enjoy the trip and on pedigree should do as he is by The Sheik out of Formation whose eleven wins were up to 2000m. Grey Street is proven over the trip and should also be included.
In the next race over 1800m Bellagio King has turned the corner and was not disgraced last time in the Derby Trial, having won his maiden well over 1800m. Kings Cup has his third run after a rest and will be cherry ripe over a suitable trip. Serendipity has done well over this trip against the boys before and is not only off a competitive mark but also has a useful 4kg claimer in Philisande Mxoli aboard. Those are the preferred choices but not far behind are all of Theravada, Gentleman Only, African Adventure, Latin Opus, Highlander, Seeking Gold and Capetown Affair.
In the sixth race over 1800m Diorama stayed on quite well in the Listed Oaks Trial to not be beaten by far. She finished a length clear of Tahitian Orana who now gets the blinkers on and is well drawn. Jive Express proved her capabilities last time again and now has a win and a second over the course and distance, but she does have a five point raise to overcome.
In the seventh over 1600m Liberado has fine form over this trip and has dropped to a competitive mark. Akwaan won his maiden well over 1400m with first time blinkers on and now steps up in trip. His sire I Am Invincible was a sprinter and his Listed-winning and Grade 1-placed dam by Fastnet Rock won five times from 1200m to 1600m so he has a chance of getting this trip. Waqaas is off a competitive mark and could be in the shake up.
In the last race over 1200m Rodger The Dodger has been given a reasonable opening handicap mark after running on strongly from well of the pace to win over 1000m on debut. He could follow up over a suitable step up in trip. Written In Stone has stayed on well over this trip since gelding and can earn again. Strikeitlikeamatch makes most appeal of the rest.
By David Thiselton