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Dave Mollett (Business Day).

Cape-based jockey Grant van Niekerk had a fruitless trip to the highveld last weekend, but it could be a different story on Saturday as he has a good chance of taking top honours in the Grade 2 Senor Santa Stakes at Turffontein.

Van Niekerk has got the call from Candice Dawson to partner Gallic Princess in the R400,000 race and the 30-year-old will not have had a moment’s hesitation in accepting the ride.

Dawson is sure to have offered the mount on her mare to Keagan De Melo as he was in the saddle when the five-year-old won the recent Tommy Hotspur Stakes. However, the in-form jockey rides for trainer Johan Janse Van Vuuren in Gauteng and is required for six-time winner Hello Winter Hello.

The What A Winter mare will have her supporters — she is tipped to win by Winning Form — but she failed to shape in the Cape Flying Championship and has had a long haul back to her home base.

Gallic Princess, part-owned by Gary Player, appears back to the form which saw her beaten by Rio Querari at Greyville in July 2021. Bred at The Alchemy, she has proved a bargain buy at R70,000.

The opposition to this column’s selection includes top-weight Mr Flood, KZN raider Ultra Magnus, Vaseem, Sweet Future and the lightly weighted Smorgasbord.

Considering the big weights he has shouldered in his last three outings, Smorgasbord will probably think he’s got loose with 52kg on his back. He is in the safe hands of Paul Peter and is halfway to recouping his R460,000 purchase price.

Six-year-old Mr Flood bounced back to form at his home track of the Vaal last time out — no big surprise when one remembers what trainer Lucky Houdalakis did with his star performer, J J The Jet Plane.

While Mr Flood meets Vaseem on the same terms, the question is whether he can give 4.5kg to Gaelic Princess and 8kg to Smorgasbord? It may be a tough ask though it’s in his favour that this is only his second start in five months.

Drakenstein Stud nearly pulled off a Grade 1 double last weekend and have a more than useful representative in Sweet Future. Richard Fourie is an eye-catching jockey booking but he will be well aware that he has two lengths to find on Gallic Princess.

So the selection for this Grade 2 event is Gallic Princess to follow up her Tommy Hotspur win by beating Smorgasbord, Mr Flood and Hello Winter Hello.

It might be a “Gallic” meeting as Gallic Chief has to be on the short list of possible winners of the eighth race, the 1,100m Gold Rush Sprint.

Formerly with Gareth van Zyl in KZN, Gallic Chief was nominated as a “horse to follow” in the Molly awards at the end of December. Sadly, we are out of pocket as he’s been beaten in each of his three starts this year — two of them as favourite.

Muzi Yeni also had a winnerless meeting on Classic Day so he will give it his best shot on Paul Matchett’s sprinter who faces a tough opponent in the unbeaten three-year-old Cleaver Greene.

De Melo rode the son of Rafeef on his last start so might also have been offered the ride on the gelding bred by Haras Del Carmo. He is booked for Ultra Quick so Mike de Kock has shrewdly booked Richard Fourie.

One person hoping Cleaver Greene maintains his 100% record is Sandra Arundel as she bought his half-sister (by Trippi) for R375,000 at last month’s Cape Premier Yearling Sale.

Another of Trippi’s progeny, Slings and Arrows, rates an each-way shout for Candice Dawson in the Gold Rush and the three- year-old will sport blinkers for the first time.

The Ormond Ferraris Oaks Trial carries the name of a talented horseman who has graced the South African racing industry for 70 years.

Granted his licence in 1952, Ormond Ferraris was twice champion trainer, winning eight SA Derbies and 10 SA Oaks. His last Oaks winner was Triple Tiara winner Cherry On The Top in 2013.

Ferraris is sure to have helped in the preparation of Paul Peter’s Oaks Trial representative, Flame Flower, who tackles 2,000m for the first time. Nevertheless, preference is for another De Melo mount, Greengrowthelilacs, who has plenty of time to get into top gear down the Turffontein straight.

Litigation and Motown Magic may prove the principals in the Derby Trial with preference for the latter who stormed home by three lengths on his last start. It took some time for the son of Uncle Mo to come to hand and De Kock made the right decision in not sending the gelding to the Jonsson Wokwear Cape Derby.


1st Race: No Selection

2nd Race: (8) Rimaah (7) National Star (9) Rose Velvet (6) Miss Daisy

3rd Race: (1) Castletown (4) Invincible Warrior (5) Captain Of Grit (2) Western Fort

4th Race: (1) Johnny Hero (9) Reunion (8) Tierra Del Fuego (10) Nebraas

5th Race: (2) Motown Magic (1) Litigation (4) Flashy Apache (7) With Pleasure

6th Race: (8) Greengrowthelilacs (5) Princess Kesh (4) Flame Flower (9) Defender Of Rights

7th Race: (6) Gallic Princess (14) Smorgasbord (1) Mr Flood (8) Hello Winter Hello

8th Race: (1) Gallic Chief (7) Cleaver Greene (5) It’s About Time (6) Rozara

9th Race: (8) Quiet Rebellion (5) Masaaken (9) Zazu (2) Traveling Wilbury

Picture: Gallic Princess (JC Photos)