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Picture: Safe Passage winning the WSB Gauteng Guineas (JC Photos). 


he Grade 2 Allied-Steelrode Onamission Mile will have a full field of 16 runners on Saturday.

Among them are class packages Safe Passage and MK’s Pride as well as the potentially well handicapped After The Rain.
MK’s Pride (Willow Magic) finished a 3,50 length third in this race last year and went on to win the Grade 1 HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes over course and distance.
He is now merit rated 122, so will have to carry 60kg, 1,5kg less than the 125-rated topweight Astrix, winner of the Grade 1 Premier’s Champions Challenge.
He will have his first run for Mike de Kock and has landed a good draw of two.
Muzi Yeni, who was aboard in the Horse Chestnut retains the ride.
Safe Passage (Silavno), also trained by De Kock, won both the Grade 2 WSB Dingaans and Grade 2 WSB Gauteng Guineas over this course and distance last season. He went on to be an impressive winner of the Grade 1 Daily News 2000 before running a fine third in the Hollywoodbets Durban July.
S’Manga Khumalo rode Safe Passage in both the Dingaans and Gauteng Guineas, but has not been called up here and instead the ride has been given to Grant van Niekerk.
Khumalo rides the Joe Soma-trained Red Saxon (Red Ray), who actually beat Safe Passage in the Grade 1 SA Classic over 1800m. Red Saxon was beaten 3,65 lengths by Safe Passage in the Gauteng Guineas, but off his 116 merit rating will receive 3kg from the 122-rated Safe Passage on Saturday.
Red Saxon has drawn nine.
The aforementioned are the only Grade 1 winners in the field and form students will be torn between sheer class and what their handicapping nous tells them.
On paper the winner would have to surely be the Gareth van Zyl-trained After The Rain (Master Of My Fate).
This five-year-old entire is probably KZN’s most popular horse due not only to his white-coloured grey coat but also due to his stride, in which he throws his front feet up high and is exhilarating to watch.
On his overall form the 1600m would look to stretch him, but this gallant front-runner has learnt to settle, as he proved last time in the Grade 2 Topbet Mike O’Connor Jo’Burg Spring Challenge over 1450m. 
In that race he took up his favourite front-running role, but after being overtaken by the favourite William Robertson he fought back and was finishing very strongly to be beaten just a quarter of a length. 
Bingwa stayed on for third in that race and made up no ground on After The Rain, which suggested it was not a case of William Robertson fading but rather After The Rain seeing out every inch of the trip.
The most interesting point was the 104 rated After The Rain was facing the 125-rated William Robertson on weight for age terms.
To put that into perspective, After The Rain faces Bingwa in the Charity Mile and, despite beating him by 3,50 lengths in the Spring Challenge, he will now be 7kg better off. 
After The Rain beat Hoedspruit by 8,95 lengths in the Spring Challenge and will be 3kg better off on Saturday.
So, despite After The Rain being 1kg under sufferance according to his official merit rating, he is potentially well weighted.
If he is able to restrain himself in the running as he did last time, he should see out the trip.
On the downside he is drawn 12, so might have to use up a bit of energy to get to the front. Furthermore, there is another known front-runner in the field, Forever Mine.
Another big runner will be Pyromaniac. He showed glimpses of class last season, but was inconsistent. However, he has now been gelded. He did the job well when weighted to win a Graduation Plate over 1450m last time out. He does have a tough draw though.
The five-year-old Vercingetorix gelding Irish Tractor is 1,5kg under sufferance off his 103 merit rating, but is progressive and has won three of his six starts on the Highveld, including the last two. He does have to overcome a tough draw of 15 out of 16.
The four-year-old What A Winter filly Humdinger (What A Winter) is also on the up, having won her last three, but she is still 2kg under sufferance despite being given an eight point raise last time, so it will be tough even from draw three.
Puerto Manzano loves the long straight here and has the class to be a contender even from a wide draw.
Litigation (Greys Inn) is 3kg under sufferance but struck as one who would come into his own as a four-year-old this season. 
Forever Mine (Vercingetorix) is a dangerous front-runner and sneaks into the handicap with the minimum weight but he does have a tricky draw and would probably prefer a touch shorter.
The full field is below: