Skip to main content

After The Rain’s gallant front-running effort in the Gr1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate must have taken a little more out of him then at first thought as Gareth van Zyl has erred on the side of caution and the grey will not line up in the Marula Sprint scheduled for Hollywoodbets Scottsville on Monday.

Even with After The Rain in the line-up, the race was always going to be a punter’s nightmare but the grey’s defection does leave the way open for the Duncan Howells-trained Mount Pleasant.

Mount Pleasant battled to get going in the soft over a mile last run and Howells was not unduly disappointed with the run as the colt is showing glimpse of his best form. He achieved a merit rating of 127 early in his career and starts off 106 today. If he runs anywhere near to his highest rating, he should be a big factor.

Shane Humby saddles Socrates who was narrowly beaten by Mount Pleasant when last they met. He hardly ever runs a bad race so is a must inclusion in all exotics given that that formline holds up.

The combination of Michael Roberts and apprentice Rachel Venniker has proved deadly over the past few weeks and Venniker seems to have developed a rapport with Solid Gold who is not the easiest to catch right. But he loves this track, seven of his eight successes have been here, and if in the mood must have a strong chance. Others to consider are Spydas Corner, Pearl Of Asia and course specialist Ishnana.

Two juvenile events get the card rolling and one can only suggest that you follow the betting with many of the runners making their debut.

In the first Mike Miller sends out another herd, best of which could be Only Hearts assuming that Serino Moodley had the choice ahead of Woodland Retreat who is the bookmaker’s favourite. The former goes the extra furlong so there may not be too much between them. Add a number of first timers from yards that like to get them going early and the betting should be your best guide.

The second is a similar guessing game with so many unraced runners. Dennis Drier usually has one or two up his sleeve for Champions Season and Gladatorian may be worth watching in the betting. Miller has plenty of runners with Superior Force possibly the pick. Colour Of Money found strong market support on debut for Yogas Govender and should improve while Action could be another first timer to watch.

In the third, Queen Mercury has been scratched (coughing) which leaves the way for Noble Storm who comes from a very much in form stable and jockey combination and was narrowly beaten last start. She will probably start favourite.

Just how Winter Air fares in the fourth will be interesting. He has drawn wide but was an impressive maiden win. He also impressed the handicappers and got hammered in the ratings but does look progressive and gets the benefit of the doubt. Should he not run up to expectations things get tricky. Preemptive Strike has been knocking on the door of late and goes well this trip while Banzai Pipeline took on much stronger last start and was not disgraced. He is useful. Captain Who has the worst of the draw and heads the weights but appears to have found himself.

It doesn’t get any easier. Go Man Go returns from a short break in the fifth and seems best on the grass. He did well from a tough draw last start and can do much better here. Stable companions Spring High and Via Salaria both have useful recent form. The former may prove the stable elect judged on jockey bookings. Mr Gonzales met weaker last run but got a 5-point penalty for his effort but he still has a handy weight and can feature.

Corine Bestel is a fan of the Scottsville straight and could oblige in a tricky handicap with Flying The Star. She has dropped in the handicap and has shown her best form over this course. Her Royal Majesty was touched off on the poly last run. This is her best distance and holding form well. Luna Eclipse is a bit of a tricky customer but showed up well first run out of the maidens. She is lightly raced and from a form stable. Ancient Epic ran a cracker after her maiden win and Marcus is back on board.

If your Pick 6 and PA is hanging into the last, your troubles are not over. The eighth is difficult with many runners that may prefer this trip having to date been confined to sprints. The betting will be your best guide. Liketheclappers raced very green and was not too far back on debut. He should much prefer this trip. Cyber Time does not have the best of draws but was close-up last run and should make a bold bid. Coral Copy is a battling veteran but never far back. However, he is proven over the trip which is in his favour. Napoleon was a beaten odds-on chance last start and can make amends. – Andrew Harrrison