Jack Milner (The Citizen)
Fillies and mares often come into Middle Stakes races well handicapped and that is showing up in the outcome of those races.
That allowance given to the fairer sex looks likely to determine the outcome of Race 5 at the Vaal on Thursday, a Middle Stakes over 1600m on the Classic track, where Perfect Witness, Crimson Princess and River Queraress come out as the best weighted runners.
While River Queraress does not yet appear to have regained her early form and might still need a run or two. Her merit rating continues to fall and another visit to the winner’s enclosure should not be far off, both Perfect Witness and Crimson Princess could be the pair to fight out the finish of this event.
Perfect Witness gets the nod for this one for two reasons. The first is that she seems to have got over her slump earlier this year and trainer Candice Dawson seems to have got her back to her best.
The second is that she has developed an excellent relationship with jockey Gavin Lerena. She has won two of her last three starts and Lerena was on board in both of those races. He has been engaged to ride the five-year-old daughter of Flower Alley once again.
However, even her penultimate race in which she finished a 0.80-length fourth behind talented Melech was a decent effort and she does come into this event as the best weighted runner.
Crimson Princess comes in as the next best handicapped runner and this six-year-old Silvano mare will be having her second start for trainer Roy Magner. She was previously trained by Ashley Fortune who has gone off to Australia and did well enough last time to indicate she would be a contender in this line-up. That was in a MR 96 Handicap over 1450m at this course in which she finished a 1.60-length third behind Zuzan.
She was running on well in that event and will no doubt benefit from the additional 150m.
Jockey Muzi Yeni will ride her for the first time and that must be another aspect in her favour as he has not ridden better than he is right now.
He has got off to a flying start in the charge for this season’s championship and leads the field by 14 winners at the time of writing with the season not even six weeks old.
As is so often the case with progeny of Silvano, Crimson Princess is getting better with age and from No 3 draw is expected to be factor in the finish.
Of the colts and geldings, the two runners who stand out are Silent War and Brave Viking. Silent War comes from the in-form Tony Peter yard and will be looking for his third successive victory. His last win was over 1450m at this course, and he will have no problems with the extra distance. Craig Zackey takes the ride, and they will jump from barrier No 4.
Brave Viking is from the Joe Soma yard, and he has been lightly raced and has won three of his last four starts. Philasande Mxoli takes the ride, and he has the benefit of jumping from pole position.
Jack Milner’s selections
Race 1: 5 Sunshine Day, 3 Flying Puma, 1 Southern Style, 6 Arctic Commander
Race 2: 3 Policy Of Truth, 4 Tyson The Brave, 10 Viva Spirit, 2 Heart Of Thieves
Race 3: 6 House Of Romanov, 7 Scarlett Pimpernel, 5 Siracha, 1 Puerto Plata
Race 4: 2 Last Cheer, 4 Burmese Tiara, 10 Ideal Future, 3 Pretty In Pearls
Race 5: 3 Perfect Witness, 1 Crimson Princess, 8 Silent War, 5 Brave Viking
Race 6: 1 Bloomington, 3 Nordic Rebel, 9 Napoleon, 4 Rain Or Shine
Race 7: 8 War Queen, 1 Covert Operator, 2 Siberian Steel, 5 Successful Secret
Race 8: 2 Stormy Choice, 1 Brosnan, 8 Red Carpet Girl, 4 Happy Analia
Leg 4: 1, 2, 4, 8