Panther on the prowl at Vaal

Panther on the prowl at Vaal


Jack Milner: There are two Assessment Plates at the Vaal on Thursday and, while the first looks fairly straightforward, the second appears mighty competitive.

Race 6 is over 1800m on the Inside track and Like A Panther stands out as the best bet on the card. As a three-year-old, this son of Captain Al ran against the best of his age group and did not embarrass himself. His last four races were all in Grade 1 company, starting with the Cape Guineas where he flew up late to finish a 1.75-length third to Tap O’ Noth.

He then contested the Cape Derby which is run over 2000m and a slow start coupled with a wide draw worked against him and he tired late after hitting the front at the 600m mark to run unplaced.

He followed that up with a run in the SA Classic over 1800m at Turffontein and in this event he finished a 1.80-length third behind Lobo’s Legend. Just a neck ahead of him was Surcharge (now called Yulong Prince) and it is worth noting that both the first two runners have been sold to international buyers.

Like A Panther had the widest draw of all in the SA Derby and never got into the race and it is also possible he did not see out the 2400m. That was his last run and since then he has been given time off and trainer Mike de Kock says he has come on really well. Like A Panther has been entered in the G-BETS Summer Cup on 1 December so he cannot be far off his best if he is going to take his place in that race.

On merit ratings alone, he is at least 8.5kg better off with any other runner and none of his opposition have taken on the class of horse Like A Panther has faced. Definitely a banker in all bets.

Race 7 is an Assessment Plate for fillies and mares over 1100m and this race looks very hard to find a winner in. There are a couple of reasons for this, one being that many of the runners are very closely rated and the other being that there is little form to go on as most of them have been sparingly raced.

San Fermin is well handicapped but she ran a shocker in her comeback run and one would like to see more from her before backing her. Next best is Ouro who is in with a chance, but she is very close to In The Dance and Witch Of The West on merit ratings. In The Dance has only raced once but has a big reputation, as has Xplosive Kiss.

Dalai’s Promise is a two-time winner but seems at her best over 1000m while Heaven’s Reward won her first two races and then ran unplaced in a feature at Greyville in July. This is her first run back and she could make loads of improvement.

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