PREVIEW: Strydom will need to show all his wiles

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PREVIEW: Strydom will need to show all his wiles

<p>JACK MILNER <br />
WEST of the Moon showed improvement when second to Let’s Rock’n Roll over 1000m on the Vaal turf last month and any further progress should see him score his first victory since beating Tawny Port in September 2006 when he contests Race 7, a MR 91 Handicap over 1000m on the sand today.<br />
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It could take all of Piere Strydom’s wiles to get this Western Winter gelding’s nose in front where it matters.&nbsp;<br />
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Photo: Piere Strydom</p>

<p>This is a tricky race and the field is headed up by a sand specialist in Fair Brutus, winner of four of his five starts at the course. However, George Scott’s star of the dirt has been carded to carry 65.5kg and has to give 7kg to West of the Moon. <br />
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The race is made more confusing by the musical chairs played by the respective jockeys. Strydom rode Ordinance to victory in his last two outings but is now on West of the Moon while Weichong Marwing, a more than suitable replacement, is riding Ian Jayes’ runner. <br />
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Marco van Rensburg, who has been in the irons in all but four of Fair Brutus’ 18 starts, is on the Scott runner’s full brother Gypsey Caravan for Brian Wiid. Gavin Lerena, who has ridden Fair Brutus on one previous occasion, gets the ride again tomorrow. <br />
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In addition, Geoff Woodruff has one-time winner Glowing Review, who returns from a 63-day break and being gelded. Similarly, Mike de Kock saddles Bismarck, who like Glowing Review has had three outings for one win and two unplaced runs. He, too, has been rested and gelded and should either of those two three-year-olds improve significantly, they must come into the picture. <br />
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So Strydom has his work cut out but on the positive side, Turffontein trainers have been able to get some work in over the past 10 days and that should have benefited West of the Moon. <br />
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It is not easy to discount class and Fair Brutus is unquestionable the quality. He is one of the few horses who is equally adept on sand and turf and has a feature race under his belt, the Man O War Stakes. <br />
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Lerena would surely wish to eradicate the memory of his previous ride on the Muhtafal gelding. Fair Brutus had won his first three starts and was having his first run on turf when taking on a strong field in a Progress Plate over 1400m on the inside track. <br />
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Earlier in the day, Lerena had a fall and despite bravely taking the ride on Fair Brutus, was clearly shaken. They finished a 12-length seventh behind Divine Jury. Lerena is older and wiser and sure to get the best out of the gelding, despite the welter burden. <br />
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Strydom found the touch on Ordinance by not letting him tear off to the front and allowing him to take a gentle lead. Marwing will no doubt adopt the same tactics but with 61.5kg, Ordinance will struggle with just 4kg less to carry than Fair Brutus as well as giving 3kg to West of the Moon. <br />
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Gypsey Caravan showed marked improvement when just 2.50 lengths behind West of the Moon last time out on the turf. As the handicapping is based on sand merit ratings, there is now an 8.5kg weight turnaround in his favour and that must bring him into the race.</p>

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