Jack Milner: It appears the introduction of Assessment Plates may have had a bigger impact than expected. While the concept was to help handicappers assess an accurate merit rating for runners, because of the way they have worked out, they have also supplied some really good betting opportunities for punters.
There are another two Assessment Plates on Thursday’s card on the Vaal Classic track and they both look to be a “boat-race” between two runners.
Race 3 is for fillies and mares over 1200m and as this race is around the turn the draws are relevant, even though just 10 horses are carded to race.
Based on form, Rail Trip looks the runner to beat, with Vivir the main threat. These two have raced against one another and on that occasion Rail Trip finished second behind Ormond Ferraris’ charge, beaten just 0.40 lengths. On this occasion Chesney van Zyl’s charge is 1.5kg better off and that should be enough to turn the tables.
Both would probably prefer a little further but Rail Trip is coming back from a 68-day layoff and could run fresh.
Vivir, on the other hand, has been racing so that could help her chances as she is likely to be the fitter of the pair.
Keagan de Melo is back aboard Rail Trip who he rode in the Grade 1 Thekwini Stakes over 1600m at Greyville. This daughter of Trippi finished strongly after a slow start to run a 1.75-length second behind Return Flight.
She looks a decent sort and whatever the outcome of this race she should pay to follow.
The only runner who could give both a run for their money could be Captain’s Princess from the Candice Dawson yard. She won on debut, then finished a three-length third behind Ronnie’s Rocket in the Grade 2 Fillies Nursery at Turffontein. She clearly disappointed her connections when she could only manage a 5.30-length seventh behind Celtic Sea in the Grade 2 Golden Slipper over 1400m at Greyville on Durban July Day but she has ability and the fact Dawson has engaged Gavin Lerena is significant.
Race 4 is the second Assessment Plate and this is over 1600m. Two horses are rated way above the opposition and they should fight it out – Orpheus and Daffiq.
Orpheus has to be the selection as he ran a cracker behind Noble Secret last time and that Mike de Kock-trained runner looks the likely favourite for the Grade 1 G-Bets Summer Cup in December. Mike and Adam Azzie’s charge ended up 1.25 lengths behind Noble Secret and although the winner had plenty in hand at the finish Orpheus certainly did not embarrass himself.
Daffiq has his problems, and although he was not striding out last time, still managed to get within 2.30 lengths of Pietro Mascagni in a MR 90 Handicap over 1450m.