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David Mollett (Business Day)
Benoni-born Derreck David and JP van der Merwe have been riding in Mauritius and Singapore. David had a hugely successful spell on the holiday island, but for Van der Merwe it was a disaster.
Before his departure, David enjoyed plenty of success here, notably his association with Pierre Jourdan who he partnered to seven wins. Van der Merwe won the 2016 Cape Met on Smart Call.
Last September, Van der Merwe fell foul of the Singapore stewards after a race at Kranji racecourse and was slapped with a 12-month ban. This was reduced to six months on appeal.
David has five mounts at the Free State track and his best chance of success may lie with Paul Peter’s runner, Droghiere, in the sixth race. The son of Master Of My Fate won his maiden on his second start at Turffontein last month.
Droghiere beat Fulliautomatix at the city track and the gelding’s chance will be enhanced if Brett Webber’s three-year-old wins the fourth race.
Paul Peter also saddles Frontline Fighter — the mount of Warren Kennedy — but the gelding failed to justify favouritism on his last start.
Nevertheless, the Peter duo may be hard pressed to beat Gavin Lerena’s mount Esquevelle, who finished a close-up fourth in a race at the Vaal at the end of December.
David has an each-way chance on Pick A Lily who takes a drop in class in the eighth race. The two horses likely to attract most of the money in this 1,600m event are Speechmaker and Wikkel Spikkel. The latter has the advantage of pole position.
Van der Merwe has two booked rides — Black Burner (fourth race) and Mercer Girl in the seventh race. The first-named — a son of Red Ray whose son Red Saxon won last Saturday’s SA Classic — hasn’t been far away in his recent starts and could trouble the likely favourite, Maradiva.
Tuscan Winter will be an absentee in the fifth race which reduces the field to just six runners. The pick of the sextet looks to be Mufasa and Roy Magner’s three-time winner, Retallick.
Magner, who is now housing July and Met winner Kommetdieding, has booked Muzi Yeni to ride his son of Time Thief for the first time. It was a surprise that the popular jockey had only four mounts at last Saturday’s Classic meeting at Turffontein.
The big worry about Retallick is that the gelding is returning from a break. He hasn’t contested a race since last October.
As a member of the powerful Peter yard, Mufasa is likely to be sent off favourite. The son of What A Winter has won two of his five starts and looks like another good mount for Warren Kennedy.
The opening race — a Work Riders event over 1,450m — looks a match between Peter’s runner Lady Osier (Sam Mosia) and Paul Matchett’s Forgotten Time (Daniel Baase).
While Mosia is the more experienced of the two riders, Forgotten Time has run second to two useful sorts in Sound Of Hounds and Charge Down and it’s a good chance for the gelding to leave the maiden ranks.
1st Race: (1) Forgotten Time (9) Lady Osier (2) Count Pablo (4) Great Melody
2nd Race: No Selection
3rd Race: (1) Fashionigma (6) Oceans Pride (2) Arabian Sky (4) Mix The Magic
4th Race: (1) Maradiva (6) Black Burner (3) Fulliautomatix (5) Earl Of Cardigan
5th Race: (3) Retallick (2) Mufasa (1) Kings Road (6) Irfaans Boy
6th Race: (5) Esquevelle (7) Droghiere (6) On Cue (4) Frontline Fighter
7th Race: (2) Money Fighter (6) Hear The Trumpet (11) Allez Les Bleu (10) Edward Longshanks
8th Race: (3) Wikkel Spikkel (2) Speechmaker (8) Petunia (5) Queen Bomi

9th Race: (11) Track Commander (10) Call Me Master (8) Naval Guard (1) Arverni Warrior

Picture: Retallick (JC Photos)