KEAGAN DE MELO
Jack Milner: Seven Lives has only raced five times but has already notched up three wins. He faces his sternest test on Thursday when he lines up in a MR 96 Handicap over 1000m on the Vaal Classic track.
It is the one distance which is still run up the straight on this course so his No 13 draw should not be perceived as a hurdle to overcome. In fact, the wider draws are usually an advantage on this course.
He comes up against a decent field of sprinters which includes Grade 2 Senor Santa Stakes champion Tandava and Grade 1 Computaform Sprint fourth-placed Queen Laurie. The problem for the two is they are carrying 62.5kg and 62kg respectively and will have to give large chunks of weight to all the other runners.
Seven Lives comes in carrying 59kg, 2.5kg more than when he won a MR 95 Handicap over 1000m at the course last month.
Once again he will meet Brigtnumberten, Greasepaint, Sporting Monarch, Whorly Whorly and Marmook who finished second, third, fifth, seventh and eighth respectively and although worse off at the weights, Paul Peter’s charge should still have enough improvement to come to hold all of them off once again and could even be a Pick 6 banker.
Keagan De Melo replaces the indisposed Piere Strydom, and has won twice on the three-year-old son of Seventh Rock so knows him well.
Greasepaint looks the obvious danger. This seven-year-old has not won a race since March last year but has become an ultra-consistent place-getter.
He finished a 1.70-length second behind Champagne Haze in the Grade 3 Tommy Hotspur Handicap, followed by a 3.40-length second place to Cathedral County in a MR 96 Handicap before his 2.25-length third behind Seven Lives last time.
Ironically, although finishing just a short head behind second-placed Brigtnumberten, he is 3kg better off with Seven Lives while the runner-up has only a 2.5kg advantage so Greasepaint should turn the form around with Brigtnumberten.
The same applies to Sporting Monarch who finished a further 0.15 lengths behind but as his merit rating was lowered one point, Brett Warren’s charge is now 1kg better off with Brigtnumberten and should turn the tables quite easily. Muzi Yeni takes the ride.
Queen Laurie ran above her rating in the Computaform Sprint but she is very fast and at her best over this distance. She received a 2.5kg penalty for that run and will have her work cut out to win this event.
Tandava carried 52kg when he won the Senor Santa but carries 10.5kg more on this occasion.