Race by race previews for Vaal today.

RACE 1: Preview: GODSWOOD (1) is a nice looking type and after not enjoying blinkers last time he is the one to beat in his second run after gelding. JUST AS RICH (2) is knocking on the door and should be thereabouts. LAGERTHA (7) is a well bred sort who has been disappointing over further and she now tries the minimum trip.
(David Thiselton 1-2-7) 

RACE 2: Preview: QUATTRO PASSI (3) will have the opportunity to dictate in this small field. EAGLE ALLEY (4) is well bred and although he will need further he won over 1450m on debut and could make a bold bid. MASTER SUPREME (1) has talent but has been a touch disappointing and now gets the blinkers on and jumps from pole. (David Thiselton 3-4-1)

RACE 3: Preview: SALUT DE WINTER (11) is by What A Winter out of the twice Listed-winning middle distance to staying type Salutation. TIMEFORTHAT (1) improved last time with a strong finish and can win this with a repeat. REGENCY BALL (3) has pace and will enjoy reverting to the minimum trip. SKY VIEW (12) is by Global View out of a four-time winning Kahal mare. KAROO SPACE (7) ran a good fifth in her penultimate start over this trip and a repeat would be just about good enough to win this uninspiring event. ALMALFI COAST (5) is by Potala Palace and is a half-sister to the Listed-placed staying type Balalaika (Imperial Stride). LOVE POSY (9) is by Flower Alley out of a once-winning Rich Man’s Gold mare. and NYAKASANGA (4) could be involved if producing her best.
(David Thiselton 11-1-3-12-7-5-9-4) 

RACE 4: Preview: LIVERPOOL LEGEND (13) has a fair draw unlike last time when caught wide over this trip and she looks the one to beat under Strydom. PLUM FIELD (15) beat Liverpool Legend last time by 2,75 lengths and from pole position should be able to produce her normal strong finish. IN FOR A PENNY (3) is 3.5kg under sufferance with the best weighted according to official merit ratings but he comes off a good run behind the useful Category Four over this trip and should make his presence felt. BAYMAX (9) has been given a reasonable opening merit rating and although officially 2.5kg under sufferance with best weighted horses he is scopey and  should improve. RABIA THE REBEL (8) is the joint best weighted and can never be ignored as she is dangerous in a front-running or handy position. NABEELA (6) is the joint best weighted but does have a tough draw over this ideal trip.  (David Thiselton 13-15-3-9-8-6)

RACE 5: Preview: LOTUS (2) beat Mode by 2,25 lengths over 1600m in October and now gets 1kg so looks the one to beat from a fair draw. JOANNA ESS (5) looks to be a typically improving daughter of Ideal World and should be a threat. MODE (1) has to carry topweight in this maiden handicap but has improved and should be in the shake up with Strydom up. (David Thiselton 2-5-1) 

RACE 6: Preview: ATTENTIVE (11) finished a fine second over 2000m after a long layoff and although he would prefer further he runs off his old 54 merit rating as opposed to his new rating of 69 so is effectively 7.5kg well in and thus carries 53.5kg instead of 61kg in this maiden handicap. LEADING LAD (1) has earned topweight but as a handy type does have a tricky draw over this ideal trip so it. RED BISHOP (6) has first-time blinkers on so a wide draw doesn’t augur well but he should enjoy the step up in trip and Yeni aboard will help him get placed. (David Thiselton 11-1-6)

RACE 7: Preview: LADY DEFIANCE (3) is a classy looking filly who won on debut in May 2019 and then disappointed second time out last December but the penny had clearly not dropped in both starts and she now has blinkers on in her comeback from a year’s layoff in a Classified Stakes race in which she is officially the best weighted although her draw of one will be a concern if there is any draw bias on the day. STORMY WINTER (1) enjoys this course and distance and needs a strong ride so Khumalo looks like the ideal jockey for him and he has a chance of following up on his win last time.  BIRDWATCHER (5) won her maiden well and is the joint best-weighted horse and Strydom stays aboard. IN THE GAME (7) has Yeni aboard which should bring the best out of him and he is capable of being involved in the finish. NUMBERNINETYNINE (2), a progressive front-runner, starts off handicapping on a reasonable mark but his merit rating falls at the bottom of one of the weight bands meaning he is 3,5kg under sufferance with the best weighted horse. ANATURA (6) should enjoy the step down to this trip and SUPA MUFTI (12) could be involved if reverting to handy tactics. (David Thiselton 3-1-5-7-2-6-12)

RACE 8: Preview: AFRIEL (13) has had awkward starts in her last two over 1200m and 1000m respectively but still gone close so she should be involved again and although her merit rating of 64 falls at the bottom of one of the weight bands her 1,5kg allowance allows her to be one of the joint second best weighted runners behind reserve runner La Valette. STARFLASH (3) is at the top of the top weight band so is weighted equally with the best weighted females, who all get an allowance, so he has a chance of landing this Classified event.  SPEECHMAKER (16) is one of the many joint second best weighted runners La Valette and Piere Strydom will help this hard-knocker get her head in front. HERTOG (4) has not placed in many runs since January but has generally been facing a lot stronger and his merit rating has dropped to an attractive mark so he could be a player her despite being 1kg under sufferance with all of the above mentioned runners. SEKHMET (5) is one of the joint second-best weighted runners and might well have benefited from a break and she will also enjoy the more forgiving ground compared to the hard winter going. LOOK TO THE SKY (2), another of the joint second best weighted runners, has not run a place since winning easily over this course and distance in January but he has now dropped to a competitive mark and will appreciate the slight step down in trip after being a bit keen in the front last time over 1200m and fading although he would prefer the minimum trip. BRIDGE OF SPIES (14) is one of the joint second best weighted runners and if repeating his effort in his penultimate start when leading over 1200m and losing by only three-quarters of a length he has a shout. SNOW IN SEATTLE (12) and WE ALL CHOMIES (8) are 1,5kg under sufferance with the best weighted but can’t be ignored.
(David Thiselton  13-3-16-4-5-2-14-12-8)