Jack Milner: The quality of some of the local three-year-olds will be tested in Race 6 at the Vaal on Thursday when three lightly raced winners take on some battle-scarred older runners in a Novice Handicap over 1400m on the outside track.
All of Surcharge, Hyperactive and Mrs O only made their debuts towards the end of last season with the last two both winning those races. Surcharge ran a 1.50-length second behind Down To Zero in his racecourse appearance but then followed it up with a neck victory over Zerodarkthirty next time out. The runner-up won his next start by 1.50 lengths and then travelled to Greyville to contest the Grade 3 Umkhomazi Stakes over 1200m where he finished four lengths behind highly regarded Al Mariachi.
What is interesting is that when both Surcharge and Mrs O won they were ridden by Piere Strydom. He is currently giving his body time recoup and should be back in action next Thursday but he commented yesterday on the two runners.
“I think they both have a lot of potential. Mrs O won a good race from an outside draw over 1000m on the Inside track at Turffontein. She’s quite a small filly and is probably more forward than Surcharge, but jumping to 1400m would be my concern.
“Surcharge, on the other hand, is a dumb horse who is still learning, but he’s quite a nice horse. I would call him a progressive late maturer. A lot went wrong in his last start. He didn’t jump very well, was out of his ground but was still able to run them out of it.
“It would be a tough call, but I think if I was phoning for the ride my first call would have been for Surcharge,” said Strydom.
However, like all of us, he also asks whether at this stage of their careers they will be able to give weight to older horses. Over the past three years many bettors have used a similar philosophy – when in doubt, go with Tarry.
Sean Tarry continues to break records every season and he saddles four-year-old Chili Lime. This son of Curved Ball should be better than his form indicates, considering he finished 6.50 lengths behind Al Sahem, who won by 4.50 lengths, over 1600m in only his second start.
He won his maiden in his next start but then his form was moderate.
That all changed last time when Tarry raced him with a tongue tie and the improvement was immediate. Chili Lime kicked on well and went down a short head to Blue Diamond Road. Alec Laird’s charge, who runs in Race 5 today, went on to finish a 2.60-length third behind Trading Profit in far stronger company in his next start. So should Blue Diamond Road perform well in his race, it could be a good indication of what is to come from Chili Lime.
Apprentice Calvin Habib, who had rode Chili Lime last time, is back in the irons. He will get 5kg from Surcharge and 2kg from Mrs O.