A maiden winner with a merit rating in the 90’s is either good according to the handicappers, or over rated if you listen to the trainer. So, when set weights race like the Durban View Restaurant Novice Plate come around, trainers with horses with high ratings jump at the opportunity.
Two that stand out are Winter Sun and Dive Captain at Hollywoodbets Greyville today.
Michael Roberts thought well enough of Winter Sun to race her mostly in feature company last season. This earned her a lofty 97 rating but last year’s juvenile feature winners, both male and female, have not set the tracks alight in the current season which makes Winter Sun’s rating appear suspect.
Roberts stepped his filly up to a mile in the Flamboyant Stakes on Boxing Day and it was an experiment that did not have the desired result. Using her light weight, Denis Schwarz had her up with the pace before blowing out of the back door.
Winter Sun’s sprint form is far superior and although she takes to the poly track for the first time she does look capable of notching her second win, and if her rating is correct, it should be a comfortable win.
Dean Kannemeyer’s KZN string is firing nicely and if the ratings hold any water, Dive Captain should pose the biggest threat to Winter Sun. Although rated 3kg inferior, she is in turn rated 4.5kg superior to the next highest rated filly, Cut Loose.
Dive Captain made no show in the soft at Scottsville last time out but prior to that showed good early toe on the poly, only to be run out of it in the last few strides. Her effort behind the useful Petra in a Graduation Plate was a particularly commendable effort and a repeat on her favourite surface could see the opposition chasing shadows.
Tony Nassif will never go home wondering. He wears his heart on his sleeve and when he raids KZN it is always worth taking note. Cut Loose ran out of puff when well fancied at her second start at the Vaal but was reported to be making a respiratory noise. The addition of a tongue-tie appears to have solved that issue as she scored a comfortable win over the Hollywoodbets Scottsville 1400m next time out. She could be anything and probably worth including as a safety measure in the exotics.
Some quick horses contest the Greyville Convention Centre Handicap and a win for Drunken Sailor would not be out of turn. Yogas Govender’s gelding has earned a cheque in all of his 10 starts and his fourth behind Scottsville specialist Ishnana being his only finish out of the first three.
Regular pilot Billy Jacobson has been signed up by Louis Goosen so the ride goes to Sherman Brown but it was probably on Jacobson’s advice that Govender has declared blinkers for the first time.
The irony is that Jacobson could provide the stiffest opposition as he partners the Goosen-trained poly specialist Di Mazzio, the combination bidding for a winning hat-trick – never an easy feat – but the stable does appear to have turned the corner.
Coldhardcash would appear to be held by Di Mazzio given their last meeting but apprentice Jabu Jacobs claims his 4kg and Coldhardcash will be out and gone when the gates open.
In the fifth, Arrabiata has shown up well in two starts since shedding her maiden over course and distance. She tried further last run but looks more at home over this shorter trip. Diamondsandpearls, Popova and Barinois could feature as the main threats. Diamondsandpearls won well last run and the extra furlong should not hold any fears from her good draw while Popova has been coming to hand slowly for her new stable and caught the eye over course and distance last time out. But judging by the riding arrangements, Arrabiata is the stable elect. Barinois is over her best course and distance but will not have her original 1.5kg claim as apprentice Jason Gates booted home his 60th winner on Sunday and is now ineligible to claim.
Jacobs landed a treble at Scottsville last week and he could finally see Ziva De Grace into the winner’s enclosure in the first. Kom Naidoo’s filly has been game in defeat in all three of her starts and the five furlongs on the poly with the claim could be enough to see her home.
By Andrew Harrison