Jack Milner: It’s the Royal Raceday at Turffontein on Saturday with the running of the Grade 1 HSH Princess Charlene Empress Club Stakes over 1600m.
Some of the best fillies and mares in the country are carded to go to post for this R1-million event and it promises to be a humdinger. Mike de Kock has four runners, every one of them with a winning chance, while champion trainer Sean Tarry, whose stable is bang in form, also sends out a quartet of runners.
Justin Snaith, who is leading the race for this season’s training title, has brought Gimme Six to the Highveld while another Western Cape-based trainer, Glen Kotzen, runs Silvan Star.
The De Kock foursome is topped by Nother Russia, with Cascapedia, Orchid Island and Fish River all there to back her up.
One of the key form lines to which people will point is a Pinnacle Stakes run over 1450m on the Vaal Classic track last month in which Silvan Star ran out an easy winner from Gimme Six with Nother Russia in third. Although the winning margin was officially 0.90 lengths, Silvan Star had the race won a long way from home and jockey Richard Fourie spent the last 200m posing on the five-year-old daughter of Silvano.
Nother Russia was another 1.50 lengths back in third, and as they all met at level weights – which is the case again in this race – on paper she has little chance of reversing the form against the other two.
However, the stable made it clear this daughter of Tiger Ridge would need the run and that this race was her main mission. She proved that run all wrong in her next start when coming within a neck of beating Legal Eagle in the Grade 1 Horse Chestnut Stakes over this course and distance.
That was an extraordinary performance from the five-year-old mare and it unlikely any of her rivals in this race would have got that close. A repeat of that run would make her very hard to beat in this event and it should be good enough to see her reverse the form with the other two.
Nother Russia will have regular jockey Craig Zackey in the irons and he will have the benefit of jumping from No 1 draw.
Silvan Star looks the runner most likely to follow her home. She has come on very well in Joburg and Richard Fourie makes the trip from Cape Town to take the ride.
Piere Strydom has ridden Gimme Six in her last two starts and he will reprise that role again. She is drawn wider out at No 10 but she should be in the placings.
Trainer Paul Peter has not had the best of luck during this season but for once, three-year-old Folk Dance has landed a decent draw. She is very good and could make her presence felt.