THE eight race meeting on The Vaal straight course today is a tricky one but those who do their homework should be rewarded with handsome dividends.

May Queen, who runs in the seventh race over 1000m, is made the best of the day and the meeting banker. This progressive filly finished just a length behind the even more progressive Mind Reader over this trip last time. Mind Reader went on to comfortably win another handicap next time out despite having been raised four points for the win against May Queen.

Herstel is 4,5kg better off with May Queen for a 0,4 length beating over 1200m last November so has a shout on paper, but May Queen has come into her own since then and probably prefers 1000m. Ulla is 2.5kg better off with May Queen for a 1,75 length beating over this trip but was thumped 9,75 lengths by Mind Reader next time out.

The meeting starts with a Juvenile Plate over 1200m and it all points to the maiden Mitch Got His Wish. On debut over 1160m this Admiral Kitten colt was bumped at the start and slow away yet he only just failed and finished 19 lengths clear of Franca. The latter had previously finished three lengths behind Retallick over 1000m although she was receiving 6.5kg if apprentice claims are included. Retallick is selected for second although he might prefer the minimum trip as he did run a bit keenly in the latter race and as a winner he has to give Mitch Got His Wish 3kg. Fisher King drops down in trip after running on over 1450m to win last time and will be staying on from a nice outside draw.

The second is also a Juvenile Plate over 1200m and Alec Laird and S’Manga Khumalo can make it a quick double with Kwazzi’s Lady, who was heavily backed on debut and stayed on late for a 6,25 length fourth after being slow away and green over 1160m. The winners in this race don’t strike as being great shakes. Bella Chica ran three lengths back in a Listed race last time over 1000m so looks the main threat. Marigold Hotel beat an uninspiring field easily on debut over 1450m but would probably prefer the latter trip.

The third is a weak maiden over 1600m for fillies and mares and a chance is taken with Nitro Girl. This Master Of My Fate filly finished 14 lengths back on debut over 1200m in February but was in fact only a head behind one of the leading contenders here, Bedouin Bride. Nitro Girl is out an unraced Var maiden but the latter is a half-sister to a Listed Winter Oaks winner so she should relish the step up in trip. Bedouin Bride lost to Amberglo Star when they last met but comes out better than Amberglo Star on a more recent line through a horse called Ocean’s Pride. Bedouin Bride also has a higher draw which might work in her favour.

In the fourth race over 1800m Sell High is drawn in pole over an ideal trip and is 3kg better off with Nimcha for a 2,90 length beating over 2000m. Nimcha was hard ridden to win that day and has to overcome a six point raise. Don’t Look Back loves the long straights of the Highveld courses and is interesting stepped down to this trip having won four-in-a-row from 2000m to 2400m upon arrival here and finishing a decent third in a Listed race over 2400m last time. He can be involved and Cornish Pomodoro is distance suited and can still progress. However, including all six of the field in the Pick 6 could be the way to go if Sell High is not bankered.

In the fifth over 2400m Ushuaia has a chance of staying this trip on pedigree and his staying on neck third to subsequent WSB SA Derby runner up Pamushana’s Pride last time over 2000m when receiving just 5,5kg reads well. Fred, by Ideal World, can also possibly improve over this trip. Cash Time, Master And Man and Kings Cup also have to be considered though.

In the next race over 1000m the improved Samoa enjoys the Vaal straight and goes well for Gavin Lerena so is taken to beat Caerphilly. The latter beat Samoa the last time they met and yet is now 1,5kg better off but on the downside she hasn’t raced since December 10. Lagertha is quick and overdue so could also be a threat, although the draw bias must be monitored on the day as both Samoa and Lagertha are drawn low.

In the last over 1400m Quentra makes a lot of appeal having beaten Southern Song over this trip in the maidens and the latter went on to beat an uninspiring field by nearly ten lengths over 1600m next time out. However, beyond her it is wide open and being a Classified Stakes event the females generally have a weight advantage.


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