The Vaal eight race meeting tomorrow should start off with a favourable result for punters and this can help build up a pool with which to play the exotics.
In the first race over 1000m Varina made a good debut over this trip despite being bumped and with improvement has a fine chance. However, Winter’s Power is likely to give her a run for her money as she showed pace last time in a Juvenile Plate race to finish close to the promising Miracle Flight, although she was receiving 5kg. Elusive Woman is not far behind these two on formlines and should earn.
In the second over 1000m Fire And Ice’s seven length third place finish to War Room has turned out to be good form and he looks to be the one to beat. He is interestingly bred, being by Noble Tune and a half-brother to the Grade 1 Cape Fillies Guineas winner Missisippi Burning. Last time out when also running third over this trip with first time blinkers on, he lost a length at the start so can do better if jumping better. Karnallie was beaten 6.5 lengths by War Room in a later race but was receiving 3kg. He can improve so will be a threat. Portico had to be eased and switched before running on well again for second over this trip at Scottsville last time. He also has a chance.
In the third race over 1000m Wings Of Honor ran well over 1200m last time and looks to have plenty of natural pace so can win this off a two point lower mark. Moggie Brown has plenty of speed and can do better than her last two starts especially considering she is reunited with Marco van Rensburg who won on her over this course and distance last July, albeit off a five point lower mark. Phillydelphia has always been thereabouts off this mark and should be in the shake up. Miss Boomerang was a highly regarded speedster as a juvenile and a recent win at Flamingo could have buoyed her confidence while a lowered turf rating will help here too. Midnight Top was 1,1 lengths behind Wings Of Honor over 1200m and is now 1kg worse off which gives her a hard task, although she was slowly away that day and was scalped. She is of interest over the step down in trip as she has pace.
In the fourth over 1200m the classy mare Double ‘O’ Eight has her easiest task for some time and from a plum draw is the one to beat. In Cahoots has a touch of class and a good cruising speed so could be dangerous over this drop in trip despite being given two points for his win over 1475m last time. Topmast beat Grade 1 winner over this trip Eden Roc last time, also over this trip, and off a four point higher mark he can go close with a repeat. State Trooper is unbeaten in two starts over this course and distance but has a tough draw to overcome. Whorly Whorly retuns from a layoff so will likely need it but he is capable of staying on late so might do well fresh.
In the fifth race over 1200m Crown Guardian is an interesting runner from a fair draw of five with the blinkers back on. The last time he wore blinkers, three runs ago, he finished just 1,80 lengths back over this trip. He is now six points lower in the merit ratings and finished second in his only previous stat over this course and distance. Irrevocable Dream seemed a fair sort early on in his career and he has now dropped considerably in the merit ratings so could go close. Alex The Great steps up in trip but has won over this distance before and is interesting from a wide draw with Warren Kennedy aboard as he was dropped three points in the merit ratings for his last run. Bockscar is unreliable but can never be ignored as he is capable of a strong finish. True Words is also interesting as he has some pace and drops down to a trip he has won over before.
In the sixth over 1600m Valetorio was far from disgraced behind the classy Ikigai last time in the Three Troikas and despite a six point merit rated raise he is still selected to win as the Ikigai form has proved strong wherever he ran. Seven Patriots stayed on well to win his maiden comfortably over this trip in his fourth start and off an 82 merit rating he sneaks into the handicap here with the minimum weight so could follow up. Marshall Foch and Norland are both in good form and will be in the shake up too. Mr Greenlight has talent but has become disappointing, so the blinkers on make him interesting, although he has a tricky draw.
In the seventh over 1600m Hawthorn looked to have ability early in her career and has had excuses in her last two starts so is interesting off a lowered merit rating stepping back in trip to her winning distance. Plum Field should be staying on and Magic Mila is interesting as she is still green so can go close first time out the maidens from pole position with Kennedy up despite having to carry 62kg. Tahitian Orana and Passion Peach are the other pair to consider.
Ideal Wolff has a fine chance in the last from a good draw under Gavin Lerena. He made a good debut over 1200m and will relish this step up in trip. However, Ideal Day is an improving sort who has to be respected.
By David Thiselton