NICCI GARNER: RUBY KING is not the most consistent of individuals and a five-point hike in the ratings will not help his cause much, but he could give 4kg claiming apprentice Akash Aucharuz another confidence-boosting win at the Vaal.
Paul Peter’s runner gave the youngster his only career victory to date when beating Renegade by 1.25 lengths over the Vaal 1000m this month. The runner-up is 1.5kg better off in this 1000m Pinnacle Stakes, which should not quite be enough to turn the tables. Kwaaiwater (third) and Mannequin (fourth) are also 1.5kg better off. So, if Ruby King runs to that level of form, there is no reason he should not beat them again.
Renegade was run out of it late that day and, with Piere Strydom in the irons again, should give a good account of himself, while Mannequin ran below form but will make them all go at her best.
Before that she faded to a distant second to Midnight Serenade over 1000m at Turffontein, where Ruby King (9.5kg worse off) was sixth. Both runners are better on the sand surface, as Mannequin showed when beating Sapphire Ring decisively over this course and distance in her antepenultimate start.
Across The Ice, the mount of championship-chasing Gavin Lerena, has run three times following a layoff and last time out Sean Tarry’s runner showed signs of returning to his best when staying on well for second to 0.75-length winner Paella over 1160m at Turffontein. He finished unplaced in his only race over this course and distance and would probably prefer a slightly longer distance but should place.
Two-year-old De Var Hyt is an interesting entry, particularly because Strydom has opted for stablemate Renegade after partnering Louis Goosen’s runner in both his career starts to date.
De Va Hyt made a promising debut and then won his next start by a neck from Mboweni over 1000m on the Vaal turf track. He tries the sand track this time and, with a light weight and JP van der Merwe in the saddle, will give another good account of himself.
No runner stands out as a Pick 6 banker, but many will be tempted to take a chance on in-form Tarry and Dual Alliance in Race 7, a MR 87 Handicap over 1600m.
Strydom has ridden Dual Alliance in his last three starts and they emerged victorious on all three occasions, most recently beating Costsaver by a long neck over 1600m at this track. Dual Alliance has gone up 14 points (7kg, or seven lengths) in the ratings, but with only 56kg on his back, could win again for Strydom.
Lerena’s mount Zebulon is also holding form and followed back-to-back wins with a third behind Pylon over 1800m at this track this month.
Those not convinced should also include Anton Marcus and Tiger Flash, who won in stronger company last time out but will carry 59.5kg and might battle to concede 3.5kg to Dual Alliance.
Race 8, a MR 73 Handicap over 1600m, could see Lerena and Marcus in a head-to-head clash with the nod going to the ruling champ aboard Costsaver.
He was just shy of peak fitness when beaten by Dual Alliance and a good showing again by Tarry’s runner in Race 7 will enhance his chances enormously. Master Entertainer (Lerena) has placed in all three of his runs following his maiden victory. He is arguably a bit better on the turf, but will be more accustomed to the sand track this time.