The  Vaal stages an interesting nine race meeting today and it offers something for both exotic and on-the-nose punters. 

Grappler is made the best of the day and races in the first event over 1000m.

 This Trippi gelding is out of a placed Fort Wood mare who is a half-sister to dual Grade 1 winner Slumdogmillionaire.

Last time in her second start she was not too well away and had a lot of ground to make up at the business end. However, she stayed on strongly and in the end failed by just 0,20 lengths.

Quenetra will be an interesting runner as he finished just 4,50 lengths behind the smart Bartholdi last time over 1160m and the form has worked out well as he had subsequent winner Double Martini and subsequent dual winner Godswood behind him.

The first-timer South Boy should have some speed. He is an Argentinian-bred out of a mare by Grand Slam and the latter finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Furthermore, South Boy is by Grade 2-winner over a mile Equal Stripes, who is out of a half-sister to the immortal Empress Club. South Boy is second favourite in the early market.

There is not much between Grappler and Rock The Kazvar on a line through a horse called Sonny Quinn. However, Lazy Guy looks held by Grappler, who beat him by 3,45 lengths last time out. 

In the first leg of the Bi-Pot, Country Mile is selected to beat an uninspiring field despite returning from an eight-month layoff. Sky Kingdom is the danger having improved considerably since dropped down to this minimum trip with blinkers on. Magic Choice ran well over this trip on debut and after disappointing over 1200m he could be a threat back at this trip. 

In the first leg of the PA over 1000m, Lagertha is still a maiden but she proved she is off a competitive mark in her last start over 1200m in a handicap and the form has been franked. She usually runs handy so should enjoy this step down in trip.

Ramsay is in fine form and will also appreciate the step down in trip. The hard-knocking Ice Eater can’t be ignored either as he goes well for claimer Cole Dicken. Saviour beat the like of Captain Morisco and Garden Party the last time he went over this trip so would not be a surprise winner off just a three-point higher mark with Kennedy aboard, although that win was around the turn from pole position. Alex The Great can never be discounted either. 

In the first leg of the Pick 6, Mind Reader defies her small size as she is ultra consistent and can go one better than her last two starts which were both over this 1000m trip.

Cape Town horses often arrive in other provinces well handicapped as their merit ratings become suppressed when finishing unplaced against higher class horses and thus the newcomer Freedom Seeker will be dangerous. Southern Charm could also be in the shake up if repeating her debut. She never looked in danger of defeat that day over this trip and won by over six lengths. She has only ever been tried over this trip once since then and finished less than a length back off a mark four points higher than her current mark.

In the first leg of the Jackpot, Bella Black has shown promise recently and has scope for further improvement. The two form choices to challenge her are Informative and Corvette Captain, although it must be said this leg has the potential for an upset as there are no stand outs.

In the sixth race over 1200m, Harry’s Secret showed ability from day one but had bad luck with draws. When he finally got a good draw in the maidens over 1200m he scooted in by four lengths. His first race out of the maidens was around the turn over 1200m and he got a bad draw again. Now down the straight again and from a fair middle draw he should make his presence felt.

Putin’s Promise is capable of a strong finish if getting cover and so will likely appreciate the step down to this trip. Battle Force always struck as one with ability and scope so now that he is out of the maidens he could progress further. Louis The Seventh has a form chance of placing. Procrastinator has come down to a competitive mark. 

In the seventh over 1400m, Full Mast has been in good form this season and looks the one to side with over a suitable trip. In Cahoots has always had ability and was a 2,10 length second to the talented Vars Vicky last time over 1450m.

Nordic Rebel was just a head further back and they face each other on the same terms. Putontheredlight is an honest sort who is ideally distance suited but he looks held by Full Mast on their last meeting over 1400m. Seven Patriots is capable of stealing a race from the front but he is returning from an 87-day layoff and has to carry topweight.

In the eighth race over 1400m, the talented Bold Jazz won his first handicap start and has subsequently been running in feature races without being disgraced. Back in a handicap he is the one to beat over a suitable trip. Stormy Winter is a resolute galloper who will be dangerous from the front dropped to this trip. Against The Grain could also be involved in the finish.

In the last race, Irish Rain was handy over this course and distance and finished second in his penultimate start. The form suggests he can go one better this time although he could be challenged by Prince Alf and Light Warrior. Nussply and Star Effect can also earn and Enrico Ceccetti is one to consider with Strydom up. – David Thiselton