THE country course at the Vaal has had 50mm of rain in the last 24 hours – over 70mm in the last seven days – and early indications are that their interesting nine-race card will be staged on a soft track today.

At 9am on Tuesday it was starting to clear in the Viljoensdrift area, but if there is no sunshine this morning, Piere Strydom (headline photo)  and his colleagues are likely to return mud-splattered after each race. ‘Striker’ will, be biting the bullet, however, as he has a decent book of rides and could be one of the jockeys to follow at the meeting.

Strydom’s day starts in Race 2 over 1200m, in which he has a rare ride for Stuart Pettigrew on Moshav, who has a strong rival in Scott Kenny’s A Horse With No Name, who finished a good third on debut recently.

In Race 3 over 1600m, Strydom’s mount Tilbury Fort is marginally preferred – he stepped up from a Maiden win to MR91 company for a top run to Matador Man three weeks ago and could have the edge over Holy Joe, who looks like a runner Tyrone Zackey will be taking through the divisions.

A lack of decent opposition and some fair recent form makes in-form trainer Paul Peter’s VIP the one to beat in Race 4 over 1600m.

Mike Azzie’s Isphan is just a pound off his lowest ever rating in Race 5 over 1000m and is significantly one of only two rides for Weichong Marwing today.  Isphan hasn’t won for ages, but Azzie may have found the right race here.

The seasoned handicapper Pivotal Pursuit could fight out the finish of Race 6 over 1200m with course-and-distance suited Amazing Strike, but Scott Kenny’s Morpheus looks a danger at the weights too, and the wily Vaal trainer has secured the services of high-flying Craig Zackey.

Gavin Lerena is going to let loose and start riding them ragged any day now, and there will be some value about his mount Polly Woodle Doodle in Race 7 over 1400m, where the Peter runner Lebanese Tractor looms ominously on her good second in a mixed handicap recently.

Lerena’s mount Open Road Road has generally faced stronger than she does in Race 8 over 1400m and Roy Magner’s filly won’t be far off today.

Lerena has been booked for Mike de Kock’s Reserve Runner Qeyaadah in Race 9 over 1600m, which makes this race even trickier than it was, but Strydom’s mount Street Flyer looks the right choice on a line of form through Move Like Jagger, who also comes into the race after a brace of scratchings.

Here is a suggested Place Accumulator for the meeting:

2,5 x 3,4 x 3,6,9 x 1,2,6 x 1,2 x 5 x 5. (R72)

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