2.20 Vaal: MR 90 Handicap, 1000m
Intriguing contest, though it lost a bit of sparkle due to the non-runners. That’s why Bad Boy Buddy Boy is now clear favourite. Back at this track and on turf he should be a force but has to bounce back from a poor last outing on the All-Weather and has to prove he is up to his current mark.
I feel the value in this race is clearly Flag Of France. Readily available at 6/1, he is a huge price against the favourite given he loves this track and trip and is 2 wins from 4 starts over CD. He has decent form and will love the return to the minimum trip, which will give him every chance to overcome a career highest mark.
Flag Of France @ 6/1 Betfred – 5pts Win
The betting market suggests that this a widen open race with plenty of chances, and indeed, that is the case. Though I can drill down the field to a handful of runners with realistic chances to go close. Favourite Orchestrated will be one of them. He won over course and distance last month and had a couple of runners in this field behind him. A swing in the weights and a five pound higher mark make life tougher though. He found 2.450m too far subsequently, dropping back to 1.700m will surely suit. He’s a fair favourite and a fair price.
The only three year old in the race, Kingmambos Legacy has a very light weight and that must give him a chance, as well as you always have to respect De Kock’s runners. But he hasn’t shown anything in six starts that suggests he is up to this standard. He also has been campaigned over further and may find this trip too sharp. Tee Jay Ar finished 3rd behind Orchestrated the last time. A 2.5kg swing in the weights can help to get closer, but the trip is a worry. His best is over shorter and he may find this too far once again.
Talented Eurakilon loves this track and has fair form in the book. But his problem is that he gets going way too late on too many occasions. He has an obvious chance if he can produce his finish earlier, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Lightly raced Thatho Magetique is an interesting horse. He has fair form to offer and may be able to improve a bit. A light weight gives him a chance but it remains to be seen how he fares for the step up in class against much stronger rivals.
Exposed Noble Star has plenty to find on ratings, however a very light weight of 52kg gives him a chance to be in with a shout. He’s been consistent lately in lower grades but hasn’t won in ages. He shouldn’t be good enough, though the weight is in his favour. Zanzibar Man goes well at this track and wasn’t too far beaten by Orchestrated last month, swing in the weights with this rival gives him a competitive chance, though he has hit the crossbar a bit too often and his last win dated back almost a year in lower class.
Dark horse could be Leeuloop Jet. A good deal beaten by Orchestrated the last time, he usually loves track and trip as he is 2 from 3 over course and distance. He’s coming down in the weights and rated to be competitive today with conditions very much to suit. He was only a lengths beaten on his penultimate run by a lightweight, a repeat of that form should see him going close. Interestingly top jockey Piere Strydom gets the leg up, which must mean that a strong run is expected. Strydom has a 24% strike rate with trainer Moffatt and steered Leeuloop Jet to two wins last season. So to see him up again is a confidence boost. Leeuloop Jet is a 9/1 chance which looks too big and the value in this field.
2.35 Vaal: MR 92 Handicap, 1.700m
Leeuloop Jet @ 9/1 Bet365 – 5pts win
A quick trip to South Africa today or the feature Handicap on the Vaal card – a very competitive looking MR92 Handicap. Many runners are of interest here, but I can’t let the top weight go unbacked at a pretty huge price. That is because The Hangman is clearly the class act in this field.
One has to remember that the five year old is a former winner of the big Grade 1 Champion Stakes! He hasn’t been in the winners circle since a Grade 2 triumph back in December 2012, though he was a good third behind subsequent Guineas runner-up Forest Indigo (who was that day then only denied by Triple Crown winner Louis The King) last February.
Since then he hasn’t shown too much. However his second start after rest tomorrow should see him in much better light given that he drops a good deal in class right in higher end of Handicaps. Trip should suit perfectly and rated a career lowest now, he must rate a big chance if he can regain something of his former best.
2.15 Vaal – MR 92 Handicap:
The Hangman at 10/1 Sportingbet – 5pts win