Jack Milner: An Exacta with two Mike de Kock-trained runners is the way to go in Saturday’s Grade 2 Joburg Spring Challenge over 1450m on the Turffontein Inside track.
The trainer sends out two three-year-olds in Soqrat and Alyaasaat and four-year-old Noble Secret, but it is the younger pair who look the ones to beat.
Soqrat was named as the best juvenile in the country last season and one has to expect him to kick off his three-year-old career in style. On paper he is not well handicapped to win this race but he is most likely a lot better than his merit rating of 112.
This is his game. This Australian-bred son of Epaulette is ideally distance suited, is drawn well at No 4 and carries just 52kg.
An oversees racing career is not far off but De Kock still has the Grade 1 Cape Guineas as his charge’s target for the year.
Alyaasaat is also highly rated by his conditioner and showed his talent when finishing just two lengths behind Soqrat in the Grade 1 Premiers Champion Stakes over 1600m at Greyville despite losing ground at the start.
This son of Dawn Approach carries just 50kg and is drawn at No 3. He has one advantage over Soqrat in that he has already had a run since that Durban race, in an Assessment Plate over 1600m at this course, a contest he won with authority.
Noble Secret is being aimed at the G-Bets Summer Cup on 1 December and could find this trip a touch short.
The other Grade 2 race is the Joburg Spring Fillies & Mares Challenge over the same distance. This event looks a lot more competitive, but once again De Kock has the lone three-year-old in the field in Ghaalla. With a price tag of R5 million this daughter of Var was an expensive yearling and has only won one of her four starts. However, she is starting to race over the right sort of distance and the word is her work is very good.
She was in need of her last run in an Assessment Plate but she did not disgrace herself when a 2.50-length fifth behind Rose In Bloom. With just 50.5kg and talented apprentice Luke Ferraris on her back, and No 2 draw also in her favour, she should show her true talent.
Rose In Bloom is also in this race and Ghaalla is now 1.5kg better off. While a fitter Ghaalla could turn the tables, Joey Ramsden’s charge ran a cracker last time after a layoff and she renews her association with jockey Piere Strydom.
Others to consider are Desert Rhythm who is unbeaten over the course and distance, while both San Fermin and Takingthepeace could enjoy running fresh.