Apprentice Rachel Venniker is making a name for herself wherever she rides and last Saturday made a triumphant debut on the Highveld with two winners at Turffontein, both for Dianne Stenger.
There are three races reserved for apprentices on Thursday’s card on the Vaal Classic course and many punters will be betting against Venniker returning to KwaZulu-Natal empty handed.
She is really good value for her 4kg allowance but bettors must be aware she has already ridden 19 winners and should she have one more, that allowance will drop to 2.5kg.
(But only from her future engagements, not today’s meeting -tt)
She has attracted a lot of attention from two former champion jockeys who are working closely with her – 11-time champion Michael Roberts as well as MJ Odendaal – both of whom are trainers in KZN.
Odendaal, in particular heaps praise on Venniker and is convinced she is the “real deal” and is South Africa’s answer to Hayley Turner.
Apart from giving Venniker basic advice, such as encouraging her to develop her core fitness and strength, Odendaal also assisted her to secure a sponsorship from Dacha South Africa.
Her best ride could come up in Race 6, an Apprentice Classified Stakes over 1450m, where she will ride Dark Travel for trainer Brett Webber.
This Trippi filly came up from the Western Cape but has yet to win on the Highveld. However, her merit rating has come down to a more competitive level and she looks ready to win a race of this nature.
She has also been forced to overcome wide draws in her last few starts but did produce the fastest 400m to finish in her previous two race. This time Venniker will jump from No 1 draw, a great advantage over this 1450m as they have around 100m to run before hitting the turn.
Venniker’s next best looks to be May Queen in Race 7, a MR 93 Handicap for fillies and mares over 1450m.
Heather Adamson’s charge ran a cracker last time out in her season debut in The Lady’s Stakes, a Non-Black Type contest over 1200m on the Turffontein Inside track, to finish a 1.20-length third behind Big Burn.
The concern is the distance as this five-year-old, who has raced 22 times, has not been tried beyond 1200m. If she stays May Queen has to be a runner but better value may lie with Phoenix from the Alec Laird yard.
Apprentice Xola Jacobs’ 4kg claim will bring her weight down to just 50.5kg and this Ideal World filly will have no problems with the distance.
Jack Milner’s selections
Race 1: 8 Definitely Maybe, 7 By Crikey Man, 4 Twice A Miracle, 1 Montbleu
Race 2: 8 Leeson, 4 Magnum P I, 3 Admiral Dooley, 6 Cross Examiner
Race 3: 8 Monashada, 2 Willow Lane, 3 Maboneng
Race 4: 2 Willow’s Wish, 6 Safe Passage, 1 Infinite Wonder, 7 Fsquadron
Race 5: 5 Secret Is Ours, 4 Blue Moon City, 1 Flying Grace, 7 Tinder Dry
Race 6: 6 Dark Travel, 4 Miracle And Wonder, 3 Eastern Belle, 1 Flinders Range
Race 7: 8 Phoenix, 2 May Queen, 4 Now You See Me, 7 Spiritofthegroove
Race 8: 2 Tallinn, 3 Sprinkles, 1 Hollywoodbound, 6 Meet The Captain
Race 1 No 8 Definitely Maybe
Race 8 No 2 Tallinn
Race 4 2×6