Jack Milner: The well-fancied Mujallad, from the Mike de Kock yard, has been scratched from Saturday’s feature race at Turffontein, the Grade 3 Tommy Hotspur Handicap over 1000m.
The three-year-old grey colt was injured while loading onto the float that was due to convey him to the racecourse.
He was among a few three-year-olds trying their luck in a race named after one of South Africa’s finest sprinters of the past few decades. The youngsters come in with light weights and look competitive.
With Mujallad’s withdrawal, Pure Blonde moves to the top of the betting boards at 4-1. He is at home over 1200m and jumps from the No 14 gate for the dash down the straight. Trainer Alec Laird has used an apprentice for Pure Blonde’s last three rides, but Randall Simons gets the nod this time.
Rebel’s Champ, one of the young brigade, is second favourite at 11-2.
The danger could be evergreen Greasepaint who, although seven-years-old, has lost none of his zest for racing. He actually is running better than ever, as he showed when running a 1.25-length second behind Alfolk in the Grade 3 Lebelo Sprint over this course and distance on 30 December.
The Mike and Adam Azzie yard have three runners and Adam believes they are all in with a chance. Speaking of Rivarine, who will be ridden by Gunter Wrogemann, he said: “He is in form and doing well at home. It’s the right race and right distance, and he should be fighting out the finish.”
Piere Strydom’s mount, Angel’s Power, has rather in-and-out recent form, but Adam says that when in the mood he can run close to some top horses. “Piere gets on well with him and knows him well, and he’s in with a chance.”
Their final runner is Splendid Garden. “This may be a bit sharp but he’s down in the ratings and is doing really well. It would have been silly not to run him.” The Black Minnaloushe gelding was second in this race two years ago with 57.5kg, and now carries 4kg less, so he shouldn’t be disregarded.
Gray Alexander trained Tommy Hotspur and he saddles Champagne Haze, who has to give weight all around. “He’s gone through his prep well but this isn’t his ideal trip,’ said the Turffontein conditioner. “We’re looking to the Senor Santa at the end of March and this will bring him on. If he runs on into a place we’ll be over the moon.”