Jack Milner: Valbonne appears to have settled down quite well since arriving in Joburg at the beginning of the year. This four-year-old entire has raced three times since joining Roy Magner’s yard and after running unplaced on debut he won his next start and then finished third in a Pinnacle Stakes over 1000m at Turffontein.
That last run was particularly noteworthy as the two horses who finished in front of him were Trip To Heaven and Attenborough, both of whom ran in the Grade 1 Computaform Sprint over 1000m at Turffontein on Saturday.
On Thursday he lines up in a Merit Rated 104 Handicap over 1200m at the Vaal, his first run over the distance since moving to the Highveld. Based on his Cape Town record, the additional 200m should not be of any concern as he has two wins and three places in six runs over the distance.
Randall Simons, who was aboard this son of Var when he won two runs back, reclaims the saddle again for this event.
Danza ran well in his last start when second to Clever Guy last time over this course and distance when beaten just 0.70 lengths. This is a stronger race and as a result he carries 5kg less than last time and that has to make him a contender. Raymond Danielson, his regular jockey, is back on board.
Africa Rising is the class runner. In November he overcame an awkward start and came from near last to win the Grade 2 Merchants over 1160m at Turffontein. His next start was over 1400m but the jockey reported his mount took no interest and finished down the field.
Sean Tarry’s runner comes back from a 123-day layoff but he could still be good enough to put this field away, despite carrying top weight of 61.5kg, especially with champion jockey Lyle Hewitson up.
Another runner who could be up to the task despite being 1kg under sufferance, is Mike de Kock-trained Alwahsh. This New Zealand-bred gelding won his first two starts and then went off the boil. He has been given a lengthy rest and had his first run in more than nine months on 18 April and did not fare badly, finishing 6.45 lengths behind stable companion Alyaasaat over 1400m.
He should prefer this distance and with just 52kg on his back one can expect a much-improved performance from this four-year-old.