Jack Milner: The Egoli Mile (Non-Black Type) for three-year-olds heads up the card at the Vaal on Thursday but the problem for bettors is the race contains very few specialist milers.
Most of the runners appear to perform best over distances further, while others need to show they will actually stay 1600m. Finding a winner is not easy.
However, perhaps the best-performed runner is Captain Of Tortuga. He falls into the category of a runner who has proved himself over shorter distances but has won over 1400m and ran well enough over 1450m on the Turffontein Inside track last time to indicate this straight 1600m could suit him.
He is impeccably bred, being by Captain Al out of multiple Grade 1-winning mare Ebony Flyer, and he cost R4.5 million as a yearling. Both of his parents won their respective Grade 1 Guineas in Cape Town and, as such, 1600m should be within his compass.
He has had one run over the distance, around the turn at Turffontein in an Assessment Plate, and he finished third, beaten 3.05 lengths.
He started his career in Cape Town with Justin Snaith, who trained the dam, but after four runs in which he failed to win his maiden, Captain Of Tortuga was gelded and moved to Ormond Ferraris in Johannesburg. He won his maiden by 4.20 lengths on his local debut over 1400m – at this track – and placed in his next three starts.
Ferraris has engaged Piere Strydom to ride the gelding and if anybody can make him see out the trip, it is Strydom.
The danger could come from Mike de Kock-trained Protea Paradise. He won his maiden on his second run and that was over this course and distance. However, his last two starts have been over 2000m and 1800m respectively and, in fact, in his penultimate run he was narrowly beaten by stablemate Atyaab who went on to win the Grade 1 Cape Derby at Kenilworth.
He comes back to 1600m and if he does not find the distance too short Protea Paradise must be a contender, especially with in-form Gavin Lerena in the irons.
The third possibility is Lumber Jackaroo, who could be anything. This Candice Dawson-trained runner has only run twice, finishing unplaced on debut and then winning his maiden over 1600m. He, at least, has proven he goes the distance and any improvement could see him end up in the No 1 box.