Much will rest on the shoulders of Victoria Paige and young Luke Ferraris at the Vaal tomorrow. On an eight card that looks none to easy, Sean Tarry’s filly will be top of the boards and also a popular exotic bet banker when she lines up in the fourth.
The daughter of Captain Al has not been out since the end of July where she finished just over two lengths behind the highly rated Gabor in the Gr1 eThekwini Stakes. However, she did not enjoy the best of draws after winning her first two races and a wide draw on the tight Hollywoodbets Greyville track can be problematic especially in top class company. She drew 13 out of 14 in the Gr2 Golden Slipper and nine out of 14 in the eThekwini.
The four month break is of concern but Victoria Paige appears to have scared off most of the opposition as she only faces six rivals in the Betting World Graduation Plate and should prove difficult to beat as her logical next mission will probably lie at Kenilworth given that the African Horse Sickness issue has been resolved.
The opening leg of the Pick 6 could rest between Atiaaf and the year older Midnight Top. Mike de Kock’s filly ran like she needed a good blow-out when fading late in his first run back after starting favourite on debut back in January. She is almost certain to have come on from her recent effort.
Midnight Top is a long-time battler and has been up-and-down in trip in a career spanning 17 starts. However, St John Gray appears to have got to the bottom of her as she has put in two stout recent performances and will be a threat to Atiaaf.
Three Peaks is another possible contender. Paul Peter’s filly finished a distance second at her second start but given the stable record she cannot be over-looked with any certainty. Three winners have since come out of that race.
Mike de Kock holds a strong hand in the fifth. Vaseem returned from a lengthy lay-off to win well over a distance that appears shot of his best. He can put one over stable companion Your Pace Or Mine who does return from a long break and gelding. Although winning his maiden at his second start, he may just need this outing. Leopold has put in two smart efforts since his maiden win and just beaten last time out. Gavin Lerena, who rides Your Pace Of Mine for his retained stable, will know just what he is up against.
The sixth is a mighty difficult race with any one of ten runners in with winning chances. A tentative vote goes to Malteza. Although she shed her maiden in a work riders race followed up with a cracking effort first up in handicap company when coming from the clouds. Her stable is in form and apprentice Philisande Mxoli will be dead keen for his first win. Empress shed her maiden at second time of asking and appears to have some scope while Decadent Lady caught all with their pants down when winning at 100-1. She was coming off a break and with a blue-blood pedigree one could expect her to find form at some time.
The advice in the exotics is to fill up.
The seventh s another tricky event over 2400m but Master And Man seldom puts in a bad effort and goes well over this trip. He is 2kg better off with At Hand who boasts a win and three seconds in his last four outings and should stay the extra. Before Noon was running on smartly over the trip last run last run and is 2kg better off with Skiminac who is in mustard form of late but could be hard-pressed to confirm the form. Major Return sports blinkers for the first time but does have a tricky outside draw.
Cairon, Ideal Man and Numberninteynine stand out in the last with the majority of the opposition short on any meaningful form.
By Andrew Harrison