The Michaelmas Handicap (Listed) has attracted only eight runners, disappointing in terms of numbers for the R150k stake, but that said, sorting out a pecking order is no easy task.
It may prove prudent to look among the bottom weights for a likely winner where Paul Lafferty’s runners get lumps of weight in the 1900m contest on the turf at Hollywoodbets Greyville on Sunday.
The pick of the Lafferty runners could be White Lightning who has his third run after a break and now tries blinkers. The grey has only recorded a single victory in his 14 starts but has only been out of the money on four occasions and has placed against some useful opposition. He was far from disgraced when just under three lengths back to the promising Jack Of Hearts last time out, giving the winner 7kg. Lafferty has probably had the Michaelmas pencilled in for his colt a way back as he goes well over course and distance. With a light weight and blinkers on for the first time, he could prove the one to beat.
Lafferty says both of his runners are in with strong chances. “White Lightning and Our Coys are both big runners,” he said yesterday. “The half-cups are on White Lightning just to get him to concentrate,” he said.
Frank Robinson has probably had similar plans for his filly Arianos Shadow who caught the eye in her last two starts over 1400m. She was staying on stoutly in both those races and the step up to 1900m with only 53kg on her back could make her a handful.
Of the balance, The Dazzler has a big weight but is always honest and although Blackball returns from a four-month break and may just need it, he will go close on his best form.
Mike de Kock is back in two and saddles two runners with strong chances, Port Key in the fourth and Balletto in the eighth.
Balletto shows some promise and is sure to be among the fancied runners, many of whom have poor draws to contend with. She is a lightly raced daughter of the ill-fated stallion Soft Falling Rain whose progeny have come to light in recent weeks. Her pedigree suggests that Sunday’s 1400m will be right up her alley and she may prove to be the one to beat.
Lowan Denysschen is enjoying a good spell of late and he saddles Eternal Words, successful in three of her ast five starts including a recent victory over Liquid Irish. She has the benefit of an inside gate and young apprentice Jason Gates has an enviable record aboard the mare.
But the list of possible winners is a long one. Obvious dangers Spam Alert, Linear and Je Ne Sais Quoi have drawn in Marriott Road – not the best place to be in a 1400m dash.
Port Key lines up in a seriously competitive handicap in the fourth race and opening leg of the Pick 6 – there are nine races on the card.
Dean Kannemeyer saddles the progressive Favour who bids for his fourth race on the bounce. He was cleverly placed when winning a lowly merit rated handicap on the poly last time out and takes a jump in class this time around. However, he does come from a very much in form stable and has a handy galloping weight.
Clouds Of Witness is consistent and Gary Rich’s runner caught the eye when two lengths back to Noble Joshua in his warm-up for this event. He will much prefer this trip and with a good draw will make them gallop.
Port Key arrives with useful Highveld form, no further back than second in his four starts, and the lightly raced four-year-old is likely to start at the top of the boards.
Kannemeyer could provide two of the better bets on the card in Ice Baron in the first leg of the PA and Silva Magic in the fifth.
By Andrew Harrison