When Al Muthana won on debut he looked to be very special, especially when that race turned out to produce a very strong form line.
So, when three winners from nine runners went on to win their next starts, while runner-up in that race Nourbese, three runs later won the Grade 2 Golden Horseshoe at Greyville.
Al Muthana, on the other hand, seemed to lose much of his lustre. After a rest and then two disappointing runs in feature races, the decision was taken to geld him.
Even then, he ran twice more, once again producing below-par performances. Trainer Mike de Kock felt the Australian-bred son of Deep Field had not really filled out and that could be much of the problem.
He was given another seven-month break and came back to race in a Graduation Plate. He was well weighted for that race and this time the money poured on to him. This time he looked a picture going down to the start and came back with equal aplomb, going on to beat Slings And Arrows by 4.75 lengths.
This was the Al Muthana of old and there is already talk of him being aimed at the Grade 2 Charity Mile at the end of October. He is also among the nominations for the Grade1 Gauteng Summer Cup over 2000m at Turffontein on Saturday 27 November.
On Tuesday he takes the next step in his preparation as he lines up in Race 7, a Pinnacle Stakes over 1500m on the Vaal Classic track.
He is not among the best weighted runners but is clearly better than his merit rating of 95. He will carry just 52kg and with S’manga Khumalo in the irons, Al Muthana will take a power of beating.
The main threat looks to be Eliud, but Candice Dawson’s runner will have to give Al Muthana 6kg and that will be a tough task.
De Kock has his stable in exceptional form and comes off Saturday’s meeting where in three races, runners from the yard finished first and second.
He sends out some horses who look ready for the No 1 box and it would come as no surprise to see him score another treble.
Motown Magic has raced five times, finishing third in the first two and then runner-up in the next three. He tries 1800m in Race 3 and as he appears to be looking for the extra distance, this could just be his day.
It will be his third run after a layoff and Gavin Lerena is in the irons. The danger could come from Heather Adamson-trained Leshawes who went down a short head last time over this course and distance.
Wisteria Avenue represents the De Kock yard in Race 4 and comes off a 7.55-length fourth behind Big Burn in the BSA Sales Race (Non-Black Type) for fillies over 1400m in August.
Big Burn franked the form with victory over Under Your Spell in the Grade 2 Jobug Spring F&M Challenge and there is no doubt Wisteria Avenue will improve over this 1800m.
But there was a lot to like from Paul Peter-trained Tuuletar’s last run. She lost ground at the start but finished powerfully to go down just 0.70 lengths to Bold Decision.
Jack Milner’s selections
Race 1: 9 Baby Dont Hurt Me, 7 Moya Wa Laliga, 4 Arverni Warrior, 3 Angel Of War
Race 2: 4 Lucy English, 1 Captain’s Run, 6 Looking Hot, 5 Eastern Belle
Race 3: 4 Motown Magic, 6 Leshawes, 10 Motor City Hitman, 5 Wave Warrior
Race 4: 4 Tuuletar, 5 Wisteria Avenue, 1 Stunning Kitten, 10 Miss Otis
Race 5: 1 Un Deux Trois, 8 Zazu, 2 The Sash, 3 Smiley River
Race 6: 2 Evening Rise, 5 Grand Escape, 8 The Cambo, 7 Theroseofbecharre
Race 7: 8 Al Muthana, 2 Eliud, 9 Captain And Master, 5 Seehaam
Race 8: 7 English Primrose, 8 Monsoon Kenny, 1 Bit Of Fun, 5 Master Of Law
Race 7 No 8 Al Muthana
Race 8 No 7 English Primrose
Race 7 2×8