Pearl Of Asia faces some useful sprinters when he lines up in the Marula Sprint (Non-Back Type) at Hollywoodbets Scottsville today. It is a competitive handicap where one can make out a solid case for a number of runners but this looks tailor-made for Robbie Hill’s gelding.

Hill has been trying Pearl Of Asia over a little further of late and he rocketed home to comfortably beat Williams Land over 1400m on the Greyville poly at his penultimate start. He subsequently finished three lengths back in the Christmas Handicap over a mile but the race was not run to suit.

Some of his best form has been over course and distance and this race should pan out in his favour. Pearl Of Asia possesses a smart turn of foot but needs a strong early gallop for him to be most effective. With the likes of Solid Gold and Celebration Rock expected to stretch the field he should be running at them over the final two furlongs.

Two of Pearl Of Asia’s four victories have come over course and distance, the last time beating Good Rhythm comfortably giving him 1kg. He meets Louis Goosen’s charge at level weights here.

Good Rhythm has been in mustard form since, beating another of Sunday’s rivals, Hard To Play on the poly and one can bank on another forward showing.

Hard To Play has also shown consistent form since Wendy Whitehead tried him in blinkers and he is well in at the weights with Good Rhythm, being 6.5kg better off from their last meeting.

Michael Roberts has always held Solid Gold in high regard but the gelding is a tricky customer and not always in a galloping mood. He certainly was last time out as he galloped his field into the ground and it is worth noting that all of his six wins have come on this course in just eight starts here.

Ishnana and Celebration Rock are also course specialists and Winter Chill and Sniper Shot can earn minor money.

East Coast Star let her supporters down badly with a dismal performance last time out after her form suggested that she should at least contest the finish. However, she was in trouble early in the straight and Donovan Dillon eased up on her a long way out.

She did rush the gate at the start and was taken out and re-loaded after a veterinary inspection which may have accounted for her below par performance.

She gets another chance in the last where she meets another modest field. However, if she does fluff her lines again, Tostada can pick up the pieces. Andre Nel’s filly was not far off in her first local effort on the poly and judged on her pedigree should come into her own over ground. Another threat could come in the form of the lightly raced Sihamba Sonke who show some improvement last outing and the blinkers go on.

There is little doubt that Mike Miller has been king of the early juvenile races and he can add another with debutante Edgartown in the card opener. Miller rates the son of Soft Falling Rain as “a very nice horse” and stable rider Ashton Arries is sure to have had the pick of rides with Miller having four runners in the race. Of those that have run, Crested Eagle made major improvement at long odds at his second outing and on exposed form rates the one to beat.

The Pick 6 has not been and easy bet to catch of late and punters face another tricky puzzle.

 Sean Veale is paying dearly out of his pocket for his over-zealous use of the stick and the money was obviously down on Cupid’s Song when beaten by Mexican Catdance last time out. Veale gets another chance on Tony Rivalland’s gelding in the opening leg of the exotic bet. But he faces plenty of opposition with Purple And Gold making a promising debut and although there were a couple in this race, The Kingdom and Final Destiny, that finished in front of him, he does appear to have plenty of improvement to come. Seventh Song has not missed a cheque in his last five starts and should be right there again.

The fourth is another difficult affair even though it is a maiden event. Mystery Boy has only had a couple of starts and showed up well in both. He had a wide gate at last run with a plum draw could make the required improvement. Italian Dynasty was a beaten favourite last run but has improved at recent outings and although the draw is a concern, he gets 2.5kg relief from the saddle.

African Sunrise continues to frustrate but he will get it right at some stage and Sunday could be the day. He does not have the best of draws but he should be competitive in this line-up. Given that he has let the side down on numerous occasions one must respect the chances of Peaceful Day who showed up nicely in his local debut and had consistent Cape form before that. Fight Song had the worst of the draw last run and ran his worst race. Both wins came on the poly but he has done well on the turf while Karoo Lark has shown recent improvement and is not out of it.

Finally, Solar Flare has come good of late and goes well this trip. She went close in stronger company last time out and should make a bold bid in the seventh. Wildly In Love ran a little below her better recent form last time out but the blinkers go on and with a 4kg claimer up she could prove difficult to catch.

Of the balance, Calulo was a comfortable maiden winner at second time of asking and that form was firmly franked with second-placed Mind Set trouncing her field next time out. Deep Thought was a beaten favourite last run but appears better than that.

goldcircle.co.za – Andrew Harrison

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