MIKE DE KOCK
Jack Milner: There are two Assessment Plates on Thursday’s Vaal Classic card and in both cases, they could be won by a runner who is not handicapped to do so.
The first comes up in Race 6 and is over 1450m and in this case Mike de Kock-trained Hakeem comes in as the best handicapped runner.
However, he has not won since June 2017 when he beat Llandudno by 5.50 lengths.
That was accomplished in his second race and when he followed up by finishing a 1.55-length sixth in the Grade 2 Golden Horseshoe over 1400m at Greyville he appeared to have a bright future.
However, it all went wrong from there and despite some decent places in strong fields Hakeem has failed to win again. In his defence he is not a horse who has been blessed with good draws but nevertheless, he is narrowly weighted to win this with a 0.5kg advantage over Strawberry Pavlova.
Although she has yet to win against the boys, St John Gray’s filly has faced some decent runners of her own sex who have done well against the males. She is drawn well at No 3 and could be the runner to beat.
Another runner who could be better than his rating – and after all, that is what these Assessment Plates are there to assess – is Ormond Ferraris-trained Make Your Move. He took a while to win a race but stormed home easily in his fifth try which was over 1400m at Turffontein. He easily beat Maroon Bells by three lengths and should continue to improve from that run.
A similar situation arises in Race7 which is an Assessment Plate over 1000m. In this event three-year-old filly Casual Wear comes out as the best weighted runner but has only raced against fillies at quite a low level. She won her maiden at her fifth start, just beating Liquid Gold by 0.85 lengths.
The runner-up finally managed to gain her first win three runs later where she met a very weak field. Casual Wear narrowly lost her next start when she was nabbed on the line so there is room for improvement.
However, the runner who could surprise all is Royal Cavalier from the Roy Magner yard. He won his second start with great ease and there looks to be further improvement on the cards. Although unplaced on debut behind He’s Great, three winners have come from that form line, including Royal Cavalier, so it looks very strong indeed.