OF all the runners in Saturday’s Gr2 Joburg Spring Challenge over 1450m at Turffontein, Kangaroo Jack seems to find himself the best space, and in the right race. Gary Alexander’s four-year-old has enjoyed a perfect, winning preparation into the contest unlike his rivals, most of whom are using this as a warm-up race for forthcoming features this season.

Racing Editor Jack Milner of Racing Express writes in his preview that “… it is a safer to go with a runner you know is fit and Kangaroo Jack meets that criterion,” and the same publication quotes Alexander as saying: “Kangaroo Jack has prepped very nicely for this and his work has been good.”

Alexander’s other runner Champagne Haze, last year’s CTS Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup winner, has the beating of Brett Crawford’s Rabada on a line of earlier form, but the trainer said this one is likely to need it.

“We are preparing him for the Emperors Palace Charity Mile. He’s a good horse, a nice type, and is doing well in his home work. I’ll be over the moon if he runs into the places.”

Rabada himself is the type who can spring a surprise if he’s up to the level of his best Gr1 runs last season and by the sound of it Crawford is quietly optimistic, though not entirely sure what to expect.

He said: “I’m still learning about Rabada. It’s always difficult getting horses from other trainers. Mike Azzie did a fantastic job with him, his form-line reads really good. He’s won two Grade 1 races so far (the first was the Premier’s Champion Stakes) and I’m sure we’re going to have a lot of fun with him. I’m happy to have him in my care.”

Rabada, he noted, was given a one-month break after the Million Mile and arrived in Mike de Kock’s stables in mid-August. Since then his day-to-day care has been executed by assistant Mathew de Kock in collaboration with Crawford, who has flown in a couple of times to check up on his new acquisition.

“Rabada is doing well. He’s done quite a lot of work so he’s fit enough but he’ll need it slightly and this run will bring him on perfectly,” Crawford added.

Alson Ndzilana, assistant trainer to Joey Ramsden, has indicated that The Conglomerate will need a sharpener in his first run since scoring his historic win from the widest draw in the Vodacom Durban July, and that Anton Marcus’ mount St Tropez was the stable’s preferred runner in this race though he, too, may find the trip on the sharp side.

Photo: Kangaroo Jack’s string of wins has made him a public favourite.