SEAN Tarry waited until Tuesday this week to declare his respective jockeys for Trip To Heaven and Bull Valley, the two cracking sprinters both expected to finish in the money in the Gr1 Mercury Sprint over 1200m at Greyville on Saturday.
Even for someone who knows his runners inside out, it can never be easy to separate sprinters of this calibre on a given day, but that Tarry has engaged S’Manga Khumalo to ride Trip To Heaven is probably a pointer to his narrow preference.
Trip To Heaven is perhaps the best horse in the country not to have a Gr1 victory to his name – though one was taken away in the boardroom – and Tarry will have considered whether the 2.5kg pull on Bull Valley on a recent Turffontein encounter will offset the sharp track bias which will affect the older sprinter over this trip.
His two 1200m races here have resulted in his finishing unplaced but Tarry told Jack Milner of Racing Express that there were excuses. “Two years he got a very poor ride and should have finished a lot closer. Last year, as far as I remember, it was a slow-run race and I was happy with the run.”
It was also his first run after having been gelded but, as Tarry points out, Trip To Heaven has done little wrong since he was gelded.
He’s drawn at No 7 on Saturday which seems quite ideal in the middle of the pack and Tarry said: “He loses ground at the start so it’s really irrelevant where he’s drawn. Obviously, the faster they go the better. We know the weights are never his problem, just the gates. I really believe this horse deserves a Grade 1 win.”
Karl Zechner has been booked for Bull Valley and Tarry spoke about his Gr1 Tsogo Sun Sprint win at Scottsville in May. “It was a big win. He was primed for that race and he stole it from a long way out.”
Third favourite at 6-1 is Search Party, who finished a 1.50-length second to Bull Valley at Scottsville and then won the Post Merchants over this course and distance in June.
Brett Crawford, looking for the first Mercury Sprint success of his career, is concerned about Search Party’s wide draw (14 out of 15) and told Gold Circle: “It is going to make things very tough for us. Search Party can be a fast starter but the poor draw is unfortunate. A lot is going to depend on the conditions on the day as to what we try to do about it.”
Among the other runners, Mike Azzie is a expecting a good run from his 16-1 chance Rivarine, a speedball drawn well at 5.