Jack Milner: Nordic Rebel has been priced up at 7-1 in early betting to win Race 5 at the Vaal on Tuesday and, based on form, this could provide great value for punters in the MR 84 Handicap over 1600m on the Classic track.
The five-year-old gelding has been a wonderful acquisition for his connections as he has run 24 times for five wins and 10 places, and has earned R451,825, which is not too shabby for a horse who cost R90,000.
While his last win was in November last year, this Erico Verdonese-trained runner has placed behind some very decent horses, including Royal Italian who he will meet again in this event. Nordic Rebel will meet Sean Tarry’s charge with a very advantageous weight advantage, which is further enhanced by the engagement of 4kg-claiming apprentice Tejash Juglall.
They met over 1450m on this course in 19 February with Royal Italian winning by one length. The weight turnaround on that race is 10.5kg. They met again on 7 March over 1500m around the turn at the Vaal, where Royal Italian finished 2.25 lengths ahead. The difference this time is 8kg in favour of Nordic Rebel and that should be enough to give him the edge.
In addition, on a line through Pilou he also has the beating of Morning Catch and Finchatton and, if he behaves himself, should also turn around the form with Ragoon based on their run behind D’Arrivee.
The one concern we have about this son of Rebel King is his tendency to lose ground at the start. This habit seems to getting worse with each run as last time he lost three lengths and ended up 4.30 lengths behind D’Arrivee. In the same race, with no excuses, Ragoon ran third, beaten 3.75 lengths. Nordic Rebel has a 4.5kg advantage for a 0.55-length defeat and as long as he does not give too much start, should be able to get the better of this field.
Whatever the case, he looks to be a horse to include as a floating banker in Quartets.
There is no doubt, however, that this is quite a competitive race and luck in running could well play a part in outcome. It is difficult to write off the chances of any of the nine runners, although it is hard to make a winning case for top-weight Tandava, who carries 62.5kg and does not appear to be at his best over 1600m.
A Quartet could well be the right way to go so double float Nordic Rebel with Ragoon who is unbeaten in three races over the course and distance, with the field. The cost of a full Quartet is R504 but you can always take a percentage.
To take a bet go to www.tabonline.co.za or www.bettingworld.co.za