Jack Milner: There is little doubt that although Assessment Plates were introduced to help the handicappers to get a more accurate merit rating, they are undoubtedly making life easier for punters.
There is often a chasm between the ratings of the various runners and even though some might be coming back from a layoff or at times are racing over distances short of their best, the rating of a particular runner is so much better that he has the race at his mercy.
That looks to be the case at Turffontein on Saturday when Green Top lines up in Race 5, an Assessment Plate for fillies and mares over 1600m on the Inside track.
This four-year-old filly who is trained by Alec Laird, was highly regarded as a two-year-old but somehow failed to live up to her reputation. Despite all that, she rarely ran a bad race and was not far behind the winning horse.
She started to show her best form again during the three-race Wilgerbosdrift Triple Tiara in March when she finished a 1.40 length third behind Takingthepeace in the Grade 2 Gauteng Fillies Guineas over 1600m. She was then touched off in the second race, the Grade 1 SA Fillies Classic over 1800m, by the same horse and then clearly found the 2450m distance of the SA Oaks too far for her.
Laird gave her a lengthy rest and then brought her back on 11 October to run in an Assessment Plate over this course and distance. On that occasion she bumped Redberry Lane, who was in the same position in that race as Green Top is in this one – way ahead of the field on rating – as she had won the Grade 1 Garden Province Stakes in which she beat Justin Snaith’s star Snowdance.
Redberry Lane duly won that Assessment Plate with Green Top just 1.25 lengths back in fourth. That pipe-opener should be just what Green Top needed to sharpen her up and with at least a 9.5kg handicap advantage over this field, this daughter of Gimmethegreenlight looks the best bet on the card.
The only runner who really looks to have the potential to frighten Green Top, who will be ridden by Muzi Yeni, is Storm Destiny from the Mike de Kock yard. She won on debut and followed up with a 1.80-length fourth behind stablemate Dagmar in her second start.
She then went to Durban to run in the Grade 1 Thekwini Stakes over 1600m at Greyville but drew No 13 out of 14 and at that track you almost have to rely on a miracle to win from that position.
She has been out of action for 105 days but is drawn No 3 and has Gavin Lerena up. It would come as a surprise if she does not, at least, run into the places.