Jack Milner: Trainer Ashley Fortune must have come away from Turffontein Racecourse 12 days ago not knowing whether to laugh or cry. The stable had four runners on the Saturday 2 March card and all of them ran second, none beaten more than 0.50 lengths.
They had sound cause for an objection in one race that was overruled and had grounds for another objection in the last race but chose not to follow through. Two of those second-placed runners line up again on Thursday at the Vaal and the stable will be hoping to go one better this time.
The first comes up in Race 4, an Assessment Plate over 1000m, where Dalai’s Promise comes in as the third-best handicapped runner behind Deerupt and Robberg Express. She went down 0.25 lengths to Casual Wear last week over this distance but comes down in class in this event.
In last week’s race the average merit rating of the field was 79, this time it is 72. Ryan Munger takes the ride again.
Deerupt might be handicapped to win but she is likely to find this distance too short. She runs on well over 1200m but her only win was over 1450m.
A bigger threat could come from Paul Peter-trained Chief Of State. He has only raced twice for a close-up second on debut and an easy win in his second start. He clearly has loads of room for improvement and cold be far better than his current merit rating.
The other Fortune-trained horse who ended up running second last week is Rings And Things who comes out in Race 6, a MR 74 Handicap for fillies and mares over 1200m. She was carried in by Florida Keys in the closing stages and went down by 0.50 lengths. The stable decided not to object, probably because it was so close to the line and it did look unlikely the four-year-old daughter of Querari would have got up to win in just 50m
She did improve in blinkers and hopefully gets her nose in front at the right moment on this occasion.
Whatever the fate of these two runners, the Fortune yard should be on the mark in Race 1 when she saddles Union Castle. This son of Capetown Noir had a great run last time, showing lots of pace and running a one-length second to Guantanamo Bay.
He showed a lot of improvement on his first run and unless there is a really good first-timer in the field, Union Castle will be hard to beat.