TRIP TO HEAVEN
Mike Moon: Turffontein will be lit up on Tuesday night – by both floodlights and the quality of the racing.
A number of top-class horses will be turned out for a Pinnacle Stakes, a MR 104 Handicap and a competitive MR 98 Handicap, providing an autumn evening treat for racing fans.
The Pinnacle event, Race 5, is a 1000m sprint down the straight and with the scratching of Green Pepper and Sir David Baird it could come down to a straight shootout between champion trainer Sean Tarry’s hardy six-year-old speedster Trip To Heaven and the nippy three-year-old Naafer, from the yard of Mike De Kock.
With Tarry finding his best form after a moderate few months by his standards – not to mention stable jockey S’manga Khumalo bouncing back full of verve after an extended injury lay-off – one inclines towards Trip To Heaven.
He can be relied on to be in contention, even under the hefty 61.5kg he has earned from seven career victories and a merit rating of no less than 120.
Mike de Kock’s lightly raced Australian-bred youngster Naafer looks like he’s strengthening up nicely and in November claimed the scalp of top sprinter Bull Valley. The one negative is this Lonhro colt is returning after a break of nearly five months and might be on a sharpening-up exercise ahead of a bigger prize next month.
The aforementioned duo are not the only ones to consider. Janse van Vuuren has a second string to his bow in this race – Cathedral County – and it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see this speedy improver in the winner’s circle.
Race 7, a MR 104 Handicap over 2000m, sees another batch of smart performers bumping heads. De Kock-trained Secret Captain has lost his last two races by narrow margins and looks primed to make it third-time-lucky from the inside draw with Callan Murray in the irons.
One of those defeats was at the hands of Dawn Assault in the Drum Star Handicap and the combatants clash again here. Dawn Star is a kilogram worse off with Secret Captain for that victory, so the tables are likely to be turned.
Pilou and Top Shot are both consistent and worth consideration, while Crowd Pleaser, something of a rising star last winter, is making a return after a break and could pop up.
Value for Trifectas and Quartets could come via Gone Baby Gone who is coming to form and will gallop under a feathery 52kg.