The fields may be on the small side but the form is mostly thin so punters will need to tread warily at the Vaal tomorrow where racing is on the Classic track.
One of the shorter priced runners and a possible exotic bet banker could come in the form of Wordyness in the eighth. Since being tried over a bit of ground and shedding her maiden, Wordyness has been a model of consistency for Lucky Houdalakis and she looks set to snap a sequence of runner-up berths.
Although reported to be over-racing in her last start, she was still running at the eventual winner, finishing just under two lengths back to Nimcha. A repeat of that showing from a good draw should see her right there.
Wordyness was on offer at 12-10 in early market exchanges with Berry Flambeau at 5-1 for Weiho Marwing. Like Wordyness, she has started to show form since being tried over ground and the extra furlong here could see her as the principal threat to the selection.
A recent raid by Paul Peter on Scottsville was rescued by Corrido scoring in the last race of the day but earlier there were high hopes for Big Blue Marble in a handicap sprint. After showing pace, Big Blue Marble blew up over the final furlong, trailing in mid-field some 10 lengths off the winner Ultra Magnus.
It was a warm afternoon and Big Blue Marble had to be hosed down after the race.
Prior to that his Highveld form had been solid, his last win an end-to-end effort over tomorrow’s course and distance.
He does have a big weight to shoulder so you may need insurance in your exotic bet perms. Culture Trip is the ante-post favourite at around 28-10 with Sean Tarry’s gelding yet to finish out of the money in four outings. A lightly raced four-year-old, he finished with a rattle to get up on the line to win his latest start and he gets 1.5kg relief courtesy of apprentice Kabela Matsunyane.
Captain’s Alpha is at the bottom of the handicap and only got off the mark as a late four-year-old. He followed up on that maiden win and was not disgraced when fading late behind the talented but largely disappointing Purple Diamond last time out. He is in receipt of 8kg from Big Blue Marble which should make him competitive.
In the opening leg of the Pick 6, Mazavaroo showed signs of life when staying on for fourth behind Gallic Princess and given her good draw, Muzi Yeni on board and a pedigree that suggests that 1500m should be right up her street, she has a lot in her favour.
In a difficult first leg, Miss Cap Mala and Wiley Kim could be worthy additions to any perms.
The second leg is no easier. Rocky Path got his new season off to a promising start when making marked improvement behind Lighthearted last time out. The handicappers were not impressed with St John Gray’s runner and dropped him a further three points which could be enough to see him home ahead of the eight-year-old Sleepinseattle. Erico Verdonese’s veteran has notched eight victories in 64 starts, six more than any of the other runners barring Kimberley specialist Bishop Of Bombay who is way off form.
Peter will be hoping for a quick double after Big Blue Marble when he saddles Dread The Dragon and Way Of The World in the seventh but it is not a leg to go light in. Dread The Dragon gave the starter a difficult time when breaking through the stalls before his last run and that effort may have taken its toll as he faded late after showing early pace.
Young apprentice Jeff Syster will be aboard with his 4kg claim which may be enough for him to get the better of stable companion and top weight Way Of The World while Fictitious, touched off at his last start, is a must inclusion in all calculations.
In the last race of the day, Miss Tycoon has finally come to hand in blinkers but she also stays well and can follow up on her maiden win. Magic’s First is the only runner for Diane Stenger on the day and she is the early ante-post favourite at 22-10. The filly goes well for Muzi Yeni who has ridden her in all of her recent starts and they were end-to-end victors over the Turffontein 2400m last time out. However, she does have to give Miss Tycoon 6.5kg which may be beyond her capabilities.
By Andrew Harrison