Laird is boss at Vaal

Laird is boss at Vaal


Mike Moon: Alec Laird takes three horses to the Vaal on Tuesday – and at the end of the day the trio might well float back home to Randjesfontein with three winning cheques to their trainer’s name.

That would push Laird’s already high success rate at the riverside course into thin air. He has a Vaal win rate of more than 19% and a gets a top-three finish with nearly 40% of the horses he saddles.

So, a clean sweep with Ossetra, Danza and Boutique wouldn’t be a huge surprise.

The main event at the meeting is Race 5, a MR 93 Handicap down the Vaal straight, and, while most of the nine runners have some sort of claim to a winning chance, it is Laird’s Danza that stands out as the most consistent.

This six-year-old gelding has two wins and four seconds from his last six efforts, while his course-and-distance stats are also compelling.

Danza’s regular companion Raymond Danielson throws the leg over again and the combo are the best banker option for the day’s exotic bets.

Sean Tarry, another trainer in red-hot form, fields enigmatic Wonderwall, a son of Querari who once looked destined for big things but lost his way last year.

His merit rating fell sharply, but he couldn’t find the winner’s circle. The connections decided to geld and Wonderwall has only had one run since that fateful day – an understandably moderate effort.

Tarry will have him a lot fitter and more focused this time and the latent talent could re-emerge.

Shogun has six victories to his name, yet his handler Ormond Ferraris has managed to keep his merit rating at a handy 85 – which means he gets a 3kg advantage over four-time winner Danza.

A son of the late, lamented Dynasty, Shogun is another honest trier and will give his backers a run for their money.
An interesting contest awaits in Race 8, a FM 68 Handicap, with three very promising fillies facing off.

Laird’s hand is Boutique, an Irish-bred four-year-old who has had two runs – a pipe-opener in early February and an assured victory a couple of weeks later.

By Mastercraftsman out of a Galileo mare, she has been imported by owner Mauritzfontein for her bloodline and the stud operation will want to see her rise to black-type level.

Retained jockey Gavin Lerena has the task of getting that climb going and it will be a big surprise if she doesn’t make the frame.

Mistressofmyfate, from Mike and Adam Azzie’s yard, showed plenty of gumption when winning her only race to date – after drifting in the betting market. She can only improve.

The third player in the drama is Paul Peter-trained Just Dance, who was backed into 22-10 favouritism on debut and won accordingly by 2.20 lengths. Given the late speed she showed over that 1000m dash, she will enjoy the extra 400m here.

Earlier, in Race 3, Ossetra is another Laird runner who doesn’t know how to run a bad race. This daughter of Greys Inn is allotted top weight of 60kg for this 1700m FM 69 Handicap, but loses 4kg of that thanks to apprentice Tejash Juglall.

This young rider has won 11 times in his short career and is in demand while he still has that maximum claim after his name.

Tarry charge Satin Slipper is the main threat and these two look like a decent Swinger bet.

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