JACK MILNER: WINTER meetings at Turffontein are notorious for having large payouts and despite a number of small fields, Sunday’s card looks capable of churning out a few upsets.
The problem is that this meeting on the standside track looks deceivingly easy. Race 3, which is the first leg of Pick 6, looks to be at the mercy of Peanuts, trained by Roy Magner. The two-year-old Var gelding has run three times for two places. On debut he finished a 0.75-length second to Johnny Quid and followed that effort with a 0.80-length third behind Campus Rock. Both races were run over 1000m on the Vaal turf track.
Magner clearly rates this gelding highly as he then took him to Scottsville to contest the Grade 1 Tsogo Sun Golden Medallion over 1200m. He finished 13.35 lengths behind winner Potent Power but back in maiden company, looks the runner they all have to beat in this event over 1000m. Gavin Lerena rides.
Betting World has priced him up at 11-10 with unraced runner Royal Stock next on offer at 5-1 and another first timer, National Key, at 6-1. The problem is that if Peanuts fails to deliver, anything could win and one could end up with an almighty upset.
The same could be true in Race 5, a Maiden Plate over 1600m, where Gary Alexander saddles Meissa. This three-year-old Jallad gelding has raced twice for two second places, both over 1200m at the Vaal. On debut he ran 1.75 lengths behind Eton Square. If one considers that Gavin van Zyl’s charge finished a 1.10-length fourth behind Pomodoro in the Vodacom Durban July last Saturday, Meissa should win this race easily.
He was backed to 5-10 to win his next start but found one too good in Silva Snow, who beat Meissa 2.25 lengths. He now tries further and perhaps that could turn things around so the 16-10 on offer looks quite attractive. Once again, however, should Meissa fail, this could be anybody’s race.
S’il Vouz Plait has been priced up a weak 33-10 favourite to win Race 6, a MR 88 Handicap over 2000m. Ormond Ferraris’ runner has an excellent record over this course and distance with three wins from four starts. However, he has been racing over longer distances and showed in his last start – over 1800m on the inside track – that he is now more comfortable over 2400m and upwards. He failed to quicken and finished a 3.25-length fourth behind Yer-Maan. S’il Vouz Plait will prefer this track but could battle to reverse the form with Yer-Maan, who is just 1.5kg worse off.
There could be a little upset in this event and it could come in the form of Spitfire Run. He has not won since arriving in Johannesburg but his last victory came over this distance at Kenilworth where he beat none other than Blake by 1.25 lengths in February last year. He has raced nine times over 2000m for two wins and six places. He has been priced up at 7-1 and looks decent value. Chad Little takes the ride for the Devin Little stable.
Others with chances include Directorate, who finished one length behind Yer-Maan and is 1kg better off, and Albert Dock, from the Sean Tarry yard. Piere Strydom has always said the Albert Hall gelding takes forever to get going and he could well appreciate this move to the standside track, where he runs for the first time.
Races 4, 7 and 8 look extremely difficult and it would be wise to include as many runners as possible.