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Lucy English has been tipped by Dave Mollett to win the Grade 3 Sycamore Sprint over 1160m at Turffontein Standside tomorrow (JC Photos). 


From time to time, tipsters are faced with a Bechers Brook race — the stiffest fence in the Grand National, which will enjoy its 175th renewal on April 15.

The Bechers Brook race this weekend is Saturday’s R200,000 Sycamore Sprint at Turffontein in which each of the 14 runners has a winning chance.

The early market leader is Kiss Me Captain with Mike and Adam Azzie’s filly boasting an impressive win in the Swallow Stakes in January. The daughter of Captain Of All is bidding for her fifth win in seven career starts.

This column likes to find an outsider in the Grand National and the one who appeals in the Sycamore is Lucky Houdalakis’s runner, Lucy English. She ran a bit flat in her latest outing but that was only her second start since July 2022.

The worry for both Houdalakis and the Azzies is that their runners have a low draw — those drawn high usually have an advantage in sprints at the city track.

Dancetildaylight — also drawn on the inside — started her career with Candice Bass-Robinson and won two races. Now in the care of trainer Johan van Vuuren, the filly made a pleasing highveld debut when second to Texas Red in February.

It’s a plus that Dancetildaylight will have Keagan De Melo in the saddle as this season’s leading rider closes in on 200 winners for the current campaign.

Tony Peter’s filly Cold Fact has a high draw and the four-year-old should go well with Craig Zackey partnering the daughter of What A Winter for the second time. However, his mount is 3kg worse off with Stuart Pettigrew’s runner, Alula’s Star.

Richard Fourie is getting plenty of rides for Sean Tarry and he has been booked for the top weight, Marigold Hotel. The four-year-old faces no easy task with 60kg on her back.

Miss Cool drops back to sprinting after contesting the Gauteng Fillies Guineas and is in the mix with British-bred Good Queen Bess, who has performed well on her last two outings.

Though it’s tough to be confident about any selection, 11-1 chance Lucy English is the choice to beat home Kiss Me Captain, Alula’s Star and Cold Fact.

The supporting feature — the 1,800m Jacaranda Handicap — doesn’t look much easier but Fourie can go close on Clafoutis, who got home in a rough finish to the recent Acacia Handicap.

Whether he can beat Queen Of Shadows remains to be seen as Alec Laird’s daughter of Vercingetorix is 2.5kg better off with Mike de Kock’s filly.

Gilded Butterfly — unbeaten over the distance — is a kilo better off with Clafoutis and should go well in the hands of Gavin Lerena. Another who must be included in exotic perms is the lightly-raced Tipsy Tarragon.


1st Race: (1) Iron Sky (2) Fulliautomatix (8) Flying Broomstick (5) Viva De Janeiro

2nd Race: (2) Free Movement (1) American Biscuit (11) Mambo Come Tesio (3) Celtic Rush

3rd Race: (8) Robert Burns (2) Trident King (9) Sequoia (7) Admiralty Arch

4th Race: (6) Wokonda (9) Strange Magic (8) Paton’s Tears (1) Captain Peg

5th Race: (6) Bee In My Bonnet (2) Winter Muse (11) Lunar Ballade (1) National Star

6th Race: (10) Queen Of Shadows (3) Clafoutis (1) Gilded Butterfly (5) Tipsy Tarragon

7th Race: (12) Lucy English (7) Dancetildaylight (4) Kiss Me Captain (2) Alula’s Star

8th Race: (7) Fostinovo (4) Vegas Hi Rise (3) Chyavana (9) Mini Coop

9th Race: (2) Cian The Conqueror (6) South Boy (7) Siberian Steel (1) Blue Waters