Punting Highveld racing during the off season is not for the fainthearted, a point that could be illustrated at the Vaal today where the eight-race card has many pitfalls.

But if you get it right, the pickings are generally fruitful and with the Pick 6 in particular rarely paying less than R50k, a wide spread and a percentage can still reap generous rewards.

The opening leg of the Pick 6 sees Sean Tarry saddle half the field in a competitive six-horse field where all will be going like the clappers. Riding arrangements suggest that Lyle Hewitson is on Tarry’s stable elect. Spring Break was narrowly beaten last run, her second after returning from a break and a repeat should see her close again in what is a competitive race.

Paul Peter, who will have been mightily disappointed with Summer Pudding losing her unbeaten record in the Gr1 Paddock Stakes last Saturday and being forced to withdraw his star filly from the Met, sends out the quick 1000m specialist Garden Party who should ensure a cracking gallop if taken on by Tarry’s front-running filly Slalom Queen and Valyrian King. Paul Matchett’s runner is also quick and Muzi Yeni steered the gelding to a comfortable five-length victory last time out.

Matchett’s ex-Zimbabwean galloper Lily Blue is short-priced favourite in the fourth after two recent local victories. She won nine races in Zim, the last six on the trot so is obviously smart, but the handicapper is slowly catching up and a third win on the bounce could just be beyond her as both Rouge Allure and Shivers meet her on better weight terms.

However, the biggest threat could come from Candice Dawson’s runner Smoking Hot. She has come on nicely since a short break and gets lumps of weight from Lily Blue. She only has 49.5kg to shoulder.

Tarry saddles Nabraas in the fifth and in a change of tactics last run, the colt was raced handy but ran out of gas late. He was finishing nicely in is penultimate run and has had three runs since a break. He should strip at his peak. Seldom runs a poor race and was a close-up second at his last two. He is due a change of fortune. Tyrus Express is the weak early favourite but it is 4-1 the field.

Plum Field and Afternoon Tea dominate the betting for the sixth, the former at the top of the boards.

She finishes her races off nicely but hasn’t quite got there at recent starts but that can change today. Bitter Wind was a recent maiden winner but had steady form leading up to that win. She takes on males but this is a modest line-up. Afternoon Tea has shown some improvement in blinkers and has been battling wide draws. She is a little closer to the action here.

Un Deux Trois and Swiss Bank are both in good form in the seventh and could dominate proceedings while the last is the proverbial minefield with the bookies offering 5-1 the field.

www.goldcircle.co.za – Andrew Harrison