Nicci Garner: Champion jockey Anthony Delpech and trainer Mike de Kock look set to team up with three winners at the Vaal Classic meeting.
Delpech has only four rides, all for the in-form De Kock stable, and three of them are set to start hot favourite in their respective races.
First up is Australian-bred Shufoog in Race 2, a Graduation Plate for three-year-old fillies over 1200m.
Delpech rode Shufoog in her debut this month. A well-backed favourite over the Turffontein 1160m, this Star Witness filly was not fazed by being carried out by another runner, leading just inside the 400m marker and going away to win easily by 3.25 lengths. She meets winners now but looks well above average and should follow up.
She rates a BiPot and Place Accumulator banker with No More Words the right one for Exactas and Swingers.
The De Kock stable has three runners in Race 5, a MR 80 Handicap over 1800m but the right one could be Delpech’s mount, Royal Crusade, even though he has not raced for 171 days.
This Silvano three-year-old was always outpaced but still showed promise in his debut over 1400m at Turffontein in March and was sent to the racecourse for only the second time in May at Scottsville. Always well there under Delpech, he went to the lead inside the final 200m and won in good style by two lengths over 1600m.
The form of his win has been well franked and Royal Crusade should enjoy this even longer distance, being out of an Al Mufti mare.
Stablemate Wheel Of Time, to be ridden by Callan Murray, is one of his threats. This Tapit colt met two fairly good maiden fields in his first two starts and won his third outing, beating Battle Front by 0.40 lengths over 1600m at Turffontein in July. He is better drawn than his stablemate but gives 1kg to Royal Crusade.
Brian Wiid-trained Hieronymus, to be ridden by Deon Sampson, made all the running over 2000m on this track to post his second career win last month and could fight it out for minor money.
Delpech and De Kock’s third winner could be Mujallad in Race 8, a MR 83 Handicap over 1000m. This Australian-bred colt finished fifth in the Joburg Spring Challenge over 1450m on the Inside track at Turffontein but did much better when reverting to the minimum sprint distance on the Inside track at this venue last month, failing narrowly against Exquisite Touch and The Thinker. He will be 100% fit now in his third run after a layoff.
Brightnumberten might be his biggest threat but looking beyond these two there are a number of horses who have bright prospects of earning a stake cheque.