Mike Moon: Apprentice jockey Luke Ferraris has quickly established himself as the brightest rising star on the South African racing scene.
His 26 winners in the space of just a few months give him a winning hit rate of more than 11% – right up there with the best riders in the country.
He is likely to improve on those statistics at the Vaal on Tuesday, when he competes in every event on the programme and has a big shout in all of them.
A number of apprentices are riding at the Outside track meeting – with two Apprentice Handicaps featured – giving Ferraris a good opportunity to assert superiority over his peers. The absence of newly crowned national champion Lyle Hewitson – the first apprentice to land the title in decades – allows even more room for swagger among the young brigade.
Ferraris might even kick off his day with a quick double in Races 1 and 2.
He gets onto Paul Peter-trained Gunston in Race 1, a 1200m Maiden Plate. This three-year-old gelding has shown plenty of toe in his four outings to date and the fitting of blinkers for the first time could be the tweak needed to get him to make that speed pay.
An interesting runner provides the second leg of that potential double. Frankly, a daughter of the mighty Frankel – often touted as the greatest racehorse ever – has been, frankly, disappointing in her three efforts thus far.
Her owners moved her to the barns of veteran trainer – and Luke’s grandfather – Ormond Ferraris four months ago, clearly hoping a change of scenery might get her to realise some of the potential that her R4-million yearling sale price tag suggests she has in abundance.
Old and young Ferraris have been in cracking form together in recent weeks and punters will not be letting them and a blue-blooded filly run free in a rather moderate Maiden Plate.
The Ferraris team will also be in action in Race 6 with Blazing Winter and Race 9 with Tripple Z. The latter looks the more likely of the two, having been heavily backed in his debut a month ago. He was a 1.70-length third on that day and will have benefitted greatly from the experience.
Possibly Luke Ferraris’ best ride on the day is Big Myth, who he partners for former champion trainer Sean Tarry in Race 7, a MR 68 Apprentice Handicap over 1600m.
This imported daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown broke her duck last time out, on her fourth trip to the races. That was a commanding 4.25-length victory and the filly seems to have got the hang of competition and should have lots of scope for further improvement.
The young rider’s longest shot could be Topmast for Dorrie Sham in Race 5, another Apprentice Handicap, this a MR 74 over the minimum trip.
Topmast’s last endeavour was as a 100-1 starter in the Grade 1 Gold Medallion at Scottsville. He was far from disgraced, matching paces with the country’s top juveniles for most of the race.
Fresh, dropping down in trip, and on fast ground might work for him.