GAVIN VAN ZYL has picked a stern test for Crimson Causeway’s seasonal debut when she lines up in a Conditional Novice against males on the poly at Hollywoodbets Greyville this afternoon.

She is a recently turned three-year-old against older males but given the conditions of the race Van Zyl appears to have picked the right race for her seasonal opener.

She has only had one race on the synthetic surface and that was when shedding her maiden by an impressive six lengths.

The showing prompted Van Zyl to have her take her chances in the Gr1 Allan Robertson Championship where she was in contention until the final furlong, eventually tiring late to finish fourth behind Under Your Spell.

The going was a little on the soft side that day and her next outing was in the Gr2 The Debutante where she finished two lengths back to Maryah.

That form has been franked and Crimson Causeway is back over when at this stage looks to be a more suitable trip on a surface where she has already excelled.

Rated jointly with Crimson Causeway is the British import Different Face. Bred to northern hemisphere time, she is in theory 6 months older than Crimson Causeway and six months behind her other rivals.

She boasted some creditable UK form before arriving on these shores and with two runs under her girth she looks primed for a big effort.

She tired late first run at Scottsville and showed improvement from that when making most of the running only to go down narrowly to Impressive Duchess.

She makes her poly debut here but shows plenty of speedy and the poly surface should suit.

Of the males, Shampompo Shampizi has the best of the draw and is back over what looks to be a more suitable trip. It’s been a long time between drinks for Canadian Bolt but he was a touch unlucky last start and can surprise.

Ancient Epic is likely to start a hot favourite in the first as Gareth van Zyl’s filly has put in three smart efforts to date and should put in another decent showing. has shown up well in all three starts and rates the one to beat. Future Princess could be the surprise package as she took on strong feature company last run but faded badly the last bit. The blinkers come off.

The second looks more open. Varvacious won her maiden well first time out for her new stable. She does look to be a little difficult but has ability. Aunty Lizzie was in at the deep end first up for her new stable but only fading late. She can do much better in this company while Perspicuous returns from a break but has been improving again and was only caught late last run.

The Pick 6 opener is a tough handicap. Palace Assembly is an old campaigner and they often improve on the poly. He had shown some useful Highveld form but his best recent showing was his debut on the poly. Di Mazzio has been a soldier for the Goosen stable and does his best over course and distance. His last run was on the turf. Sir Pom came good when tried in blinkers last run and finished with a rattle. A repeat will see him in the firing line again.

In the fifth is wide open with a number with claims. Forgetful Girl made major improvement at her second local outing. She had some useful Cape form and must have a strong chance here. Purple Nkanyezi has drawn wide but goes very well over course and distance. Purple Merchant has shown some of her best form on the poly. She goes this trip for the first time but should see it out comfortably.

Straight Up has the worst of the draw in the sixth but was a touch unlucky last run when finding traffic and coming from a long way back last start. Land Of Mystery showed up well first run for his new yard. He has been trying further but may no prefer this shorter trip.

Duncan Howells will be hoping for a quick double as he sends out Fat Cigar in the seventh. He caused a major upset when winning his maiden but has shown ability and has his first outing for a new stable. Double Gemini has a wide draw but his best form has been on this synthetic surface and could prove the biggest threat to the selection.

The last could rested between Whispers Of War and The Green Gallant. The former has come on with each outing and looks ready now while The Green Gallant improved nicely in blinkers and enjoys the surface and should go close. – Andrew Harrison