There could be more than just a handful of Pick 6 ticket-holders holding their breath going into the final leg at Hollywoodbets Scottsville today with East Coast Star high up on their list of possible exotic bet bankers.

After warming up in two sprints, East Coast Star was sent out deep in the red to shed her maiden in her first attempt at 1400m on the Hollywoodbets Greyville poly.

It looked to be money in the bank a furlong from home as Anton Marcus hit the front on Peter Muscutt’s filly but she came up empty when challenge late by My Saving Grace.

East Coast Star switches to the turf today and Marcus, marooned in Cape Town for the month, has been replaced by stable regular Donovan Dillon.

A perusal of the opposition form makes modest reading but more cautious punters could include stable companion Racey Stacey in their calculations.

She does have behavioural issues but has shown that she does have ability when flashing up to run second to Shastina at her penultimate start with Gavin van Zyl’s filly having since paid tribute to that form, winning again.

Given that showing, Racey Stacey was well fancied to break her duck over the Greyville poly mile next time out but gave apprentice Jabu Jacobs a few harrowing moments as she took the scenic route home in the straight.

Seasoned rider Raymond Danielson will be legged up this afternoon and will have been made well aware of his challenge.

If he gets the best out of his mount, East Coast Star may find herself in the maidens for another race and the 11-10 about her chances with Track & Ball about sums up her chances with Racey Stacey 5-1 with 6-1 bar.

The Track & Ball Gaming Handicap over 1400m heads the card and although one can make a case for a number of runners, the race looks tailor-made for former Gr2 Post Merchants winner Sniper Shot to finally get back into the winner’s enclosure. It has been a long time between drinks, his last win coming nearly three years ago, and it has been a lengthy journey down the merit rating ladder to what may now be a more realistic handicap mark.

It has taken 943 days since his Merchants win for the handicappers to drop the six-year-old from a high of 110 to his current mark of 95, three pounds lower than for his last start. In the handicapper’s defence, Sniper Shot has shown flashes of his early ability which earned him his highest MR and the number crunchers have been hesitant to drop his rating.

That said, this is a clear example of a horse, not quite out of the top drawer, being hamstrung by the ratings.

Black Cat Back finished second in the Merchants and was exported to Mauritius where he won four races. It has taken 18 starts and three years for the handicappers to work out that Sniper Shot’s rating was out of kilter.

But with this rating drop and apprentice Kyle Strydom giving him 2.5kg relief in the saddle, Paul Lafferty’s runner does look an attractive bet at current odds.

Desolate Road failed narrowly last run where he finished ahead of Sniper Shot and he has improved in blinkers. However, he is now 6kg worse off, given Strydom’s claim so he is unlikely to confirm the placings. Guru’s Pride, Tready Swiftly and Socrates are all in with a shout.

The race sponsors deem this a wide-open affair with Tread Swiftly a weak 9-2 favourite and the other runners mentioned all at 5-1.

There should be little separating stable companions Civil Rights and Countess Cartier in the card opener, Mike Miller’s pair finishing within a neck of each other on debut. Ashton Arries is the stable first call rider and has stuck with Civil Rights while Tristan Godden retains the ride on Countess Cartier.

The balance of the field are at long odds.

Any one of Café Pacifica, Camora or Trumpet Voluntary could see you through the opening leg of the PA but two of the three would be a safer option.

In the opening leg of the Pick 6, Quenanza, who has improved with each outing since a lay-off, has her peak third run after a break and with Garth Puller’s yard seldom out of form she should be up there. Garry Rich’s filly Leading Lyric is at surprisingly long odds and 16-1 appeals as an each-way punt. She has had two tough draws at recent starts at Greyville and sports first-time blinkers.

Top of the boards is What A Splash who made a promising debut on this course for Michael Roberts.

goldcircle.co.za – Andrew Harrison

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