NICCI GARNER: SOME top-class two-year-old fillies will line up for the R500,000 Allan Robertson Championship (Grade 1) over 1200m at Scottsville on Saturday, but Valdivia could prove that she is the class horse in the race.
Vaughan Marshall’s runner has won all three of her starts to date by a combined margin of 16 lengths and had no problems handling the tricky Scottsville track in her only race there, beating Little Princess by 4.50 lengths. She won in 0.75 sec faster time than Potent Power over the same course and distance that day.
Her previous win came in the Grade 3 Strelitzia Stakes over 1000m at Clairwood where she was never headed and beat Coniston Gold by 5.50 lengths, also in fast time.
She faces her toughest test to date, but from No 1 draw (low-numbered posts are often preferred in races down the Scottsville straight) is definitely the one to beat.
“I’m excited, but also a bit nervous!” declared her trainer yesterday. “She’ll need luck, but I’m very hopeful.”
The horse who has the ability to lower her colours is Franny. Gavin van Zyl’s runner did not get everything her own way in the SA Fillies Nursery at Turffontein last time out, playing up in the stalls and starting slowly. For the first time in her career she did not dominate proceedings and although she moved up menacingly inside the final 400m, she ran out of fuel in the closing stages and finished third behind King’s Temptress.
She had won both her previous starts from Straight Set, taking the Ruffian Stakes by five lengths before cruising home by three lengths in the Pretty Polly Stakes, so that defeat was unprecedented.
Van Zyl believes that jockey Richard Fourie, who rides her for the first time, can get her to jump well and says: “She’s well in herself, is in a good place and I’m happy with her work. I hope we’ll see the best of her again this time.”
Marshall believes that Valdivia’s main threat is her stable companion All Is Secret, who he thinks “was unlucky last time out when she stumbled coming out of the gates. She hit the front and then started looking round, racing very greenly on the course,” he said. All Is Secret got tagged on the post by Straight Set.
With that experience at Scottsville, a course where many horses do not show their true colours until they have raced over its undulations, he believes All Is Secret will give an excellent account of herself.
Al Kindi was 2.25 lengths behind All Is Secret in that race and should not turn the tables, although she is trained by a master in Mike de Kock and still has scope for improvement.
King’s Temptress must also rate a winning chance following her impressive debut. Thrown in at the deep end in the SA Fillies Nursery, she lost a couple of lengths at the start but powered home and beat a smart field by two lengths for Kimberley trainer Coerie Lensley.
She has been transferred to trainer Kom Naidoo in KwaZulu-Natal and has been with her new handler only 2½ weeks. He, however, believes that she has taken the move well and is “very pleased with her – she’ll run a very good race”.