Jack Milner: It is not easy for a horse to win four in a row but that could happen to Shortstop at the Vaal on Thursday when he lines up in Race 4, a MR 76 Handicap over 1200m.
This four-year-old gelding had only won twice in 28 starts but then trainer Roy Magner decided to give the ride to apprentice Dennis Schwarz. The two clearly hit it off because it brought instant success and now Shortstop has gone on to reel off three successive victories.
It is also worth noting that, from his first win, a long-head victory over Premier Show, four winners have been produced. In his next start, Shortstop beat Tumbling Stream by 2.25 lengths over 1400m. The next run was over 1200m on the Classic track around the turn and he mowed down Varimax to win extremely comfortably by 1.40 lengths.
The pair team up again and this time Schwarz will not be able to claim his 1.5kg allowance as he rode his 60th winner at the Vaal last Thursday. It should not be too much of a problem as, when Shortstop won last time, Schwarz did not claim the allowance in any case.
The main threat is likely to come from Star Of Joburg who has raced against some talented runners, including Pietro Mascagni. He has only raced four times for a win and three places and was gelded in January after having finished a 2.25-length fourth behind Like Astair over 1200m on the Classic track in December.
Craig Zackey takes the ride and, as long as this son of Horse Chestnut is not in need of a run, should be a strong contender. It is definitely worth taking Exactas and Swingers with the pair.
Trainer Dorrie Sham scored her first Grade 3 win since arriving on the Highveld and her stable has been in excellent form all round. She sends out Baahir who has yet to win since arriving in Joburg but has only once run out of the places in five starts. That was in his last run, but on that occasion he finished fifth behind Alpine Glacier and was beaten just 2.70 lengths.
If one is looking to take a Quartet then include Wild Curve. This three-year-old son of Curved Ball has only raced four times for a win and a place and has form that puts him close to Shortstop. He has to carry top weight of 61kg but he will have the services of Gunter Wrogemann.