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Picture: Yamadori can score a third career win in  the fifth race (Image: Wayne Marks)

Graeme Hawkins (Gold Circle)

We had the Christmas stuffing knocked out of us at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth on Wednesday, but we pick ourselves up off the floor and go again tomorrow when Cape Racing stages another very challenging 9-race programme, with the first race off at 13:00. A first glance at the ante-post betting highlights the competitive nature of all the races and the prospect of big exotic-bet returns looms large.

The fifth race, a Class 3 Handicap over 1400m and opening leg of the Carryover Jackpot, is the highest rated event on the programme and a full field of sixteen runners has been carded. Course and distance specialist, Charlie Croker, will be bidding for back-to-back victories with in-form Gareth Wright aboard for the Candice Bass-Robinson stable. The 4yo gelding has yet to finish out of the top two positions over track and trip, with three victories and four seconds from seven starts, and the fact that he is on offer at 10/1 is further evidence of just how competitive this race is expected to be.

He was penalised just three rating points for his recent victory over Zil Moris and, while he meets useful opposition tomorrow, he clearly rates a good each prospect, particularly as he jumps from a relatively good barrier position.

The progressive King Of The Gauls has been priced up the early 4/1 market leader and Tony Rivalland’s runner was impressive on his local Western Cape debut when scoring a pillar-to-post victory over Usa’s Hope four weeks ago. That was his first run as a gelding, and he is likely to show further improvement with the benefit of that run under the belt. As a Gold Rush candidate he has bigger fish to fry, but this will be a very good test for the 3yo son of Vercingetorix.

But this is a deep field and there are many with winning chances. Gallic Dream, another 3yo son of Vercingetorix, meets King Of The Gauls on even terms and Eric Sands’ runner may well be good enough to come out on top. Two runs back he was beaten less than a length by Green With Envy and last time out was a close third behind Sun Dazed. Those runs were at Durbanville, and he could relish returning to Kenilworth tomorrow. He now meets Sun Dazed on 3kgs better terms which should be more than enough to turn the tables.

Yamadori also represents the younger brigade and brings more than useful form into the race. He finished a one-length fourth behind King Of The Gauls last time and is now 1kg better off. They both step up to 1400m for the first time which should not be a problem for either. Three runs back Yamadori beat Hat’s Pride by more than a length giving away 4kgs and when one considers the latter’s very good effort in the Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas, then Yamadori is entitled to the utmost respect here.

Gallic Dream, King Of The Gauls and Yamadori are all faced with tricky draws but let’s hope for a solid pace and a fair run race.

Marvel William, well drawn in Gate 2, is handicapped to finish on top of Charlie Croker while Seeking The One is very capable on his day and was not disgraced behind Silver Operator in a higher division on Guineas’ Day. Neither would be surprise winners and another that cannot be safely ruled out is Beyondtheboundary from pole position.

It’s a very tough call but I am going to side with Yamadori to come home ahead of King Of The Gauls, Gallic Dream and Charlie Croker.

Place Accumulator bankers – let alone Jackpot and Pick 6 bankers – are difficult to find but perhaps we can take a chance with Bristol Hercules in the fourth race, a Class 4 Handicap over 1400m. Last time out he was half-a-length behind Oliver when placed behind Innamorare but he could have needed that outing and Richard Fourie retains the ride for the Peter Muscutt stable. Muscutt has always held Bristol Hercules in high regard but now it’s time for the 3yo son of Lancaster Bomber to step up to the plate. This will be his peak run and from the best of the draw he could get the measure of the ultra-consistent Oliver this time around.

Infrared and Unicorn Alert come out the same formline and were not too far away in a blanket finish. They clearly warrant respect, but I am expecting more from Bristol Hercules and am prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.

The seventh race, a Class 4 Handicap (F&M) over 1100m, is one of the weaker races on the card and, following the early scratching of On Board, the right horse could turn out to be Apple Catcher. Fourie rides the daughter of Pomodoro for the first time since guiding her to victory back in May and the combination could prove too strong for recent maiden winner Tres Chic and the largely disappointing Gimmethewaltz. Players with lesser budgets could do worse than take their chances with Apple Catcher.

Fourie could also be on the mark with Strathclyde in the third race over 1400m. The Tony Rivalland-trained colt makes his local debut and comes with a big reputation. He fluffed his lines in the Model Man Mile after a winning first up over 1200m at Scottsville but watch out for a much better effort here.

The Adam Marcus/Gareth Wright partnership have struck in the last two race meetings at Kenilworth, and they could be on the mark with All About Al in the sixth race over 1100m. Without a win for 896 days, All About Al has been knocking loudly at the door and is well overdue a visit to the winner’s enclosure.

The enigmatic, but very useful, Itsrainingwilliam rates the one to beat in the opening leg of the Bipot, a Progress Plate over 1400m. He flew up from near the back when a close third behind Silver Operator over track and trip two weeks ago, but he is not the most consistent around and cannot be overly relied upon. Wecangoallnight looks the principal threat.