Jack Milner: A few horses who are decent, but a little below top level, line-up in a MR 80 Handicap over 2000m at the Vaal on Thursday, when they race on the Classic track.
Mike de Kock had high hopes for Condor Gulch and there was a feeling he could turn into a top stayer.
This Irish-bred son of High Chaparral has not as yet lived up to those expectations so far but as he was born in the northern hemisphere, he is still around five months younger than his local opposition.
After a couple of disappointing runs early in the year, the decision was taken to geld him, which took place in March.
He has had four runs since and has produced a mixed bag of results, which comprised two seconds, a fourth and one unplaced run.
His merit rating is taking a while to come down and he is just one point lower than his merit rating was at the time of gelding.
Two runs back Condor Gulch finished a 0.10-length second behind Senor Lizard with Zanaki just a short head behind in third. On this occasion the Irish import is 2kg better off with Weiho Marwing’s charge so one can expect him to beat Zanaki again.
However, this three-year-old has only raced six times, and was gelded in February. His first run back was in the Grade 1 SA Derby where he finished almost nine lengths behind stablemate Samurai Warrior.
He then raced over 2000m at the Vaal but was never travelling well and finished last of the seven runners, but beaten just seven lengths by Seattle Force. Then he joined Condor Gulch in that Assessment Plate on the Turffontein Inside track where he ran third.
Sean Tarry saddles a pair of three-year-olds and perhaps these two are best placed to fight out the finish. Silver Spectrum is a smart-looking son of Silvano who looks to get better the further he runs. He was gelded after his first start and returned to the track in February after a more than five-month break over 1160m at Turffontein.
He finished fourth, but in his next start, over 1400m, he ran on strongly to beat Stockbridge by two lengths.
His next outing was over 1400m at the Vaal but he lost ground at the start and shifted around to once again run fourth. Last time he contested a MR 74 over 1600m on the Inside track at Turffontein and ran on strongly to catch Marshall Foch close home. He should appreciate the extra 400m this time.
Last Of The Legend is the only colt of the four. He won his first three starts in KwaZulu-Natal and then finished a 0.50-length second behind Gift Of The Gap in the Listed Derby Trial. He also ran in the SA Derby and finished 1.40 lengths behind Zanaki but then finished ahead of him in the race won by Seattle Force.
He ran a great race last time in a MR 86 Handicap over 1600m at Turffontein when a 1.80-length fourth behind Apache Too.
With Lyle Hewitson aboard Silver Spectrum it could indicate he is preferred to Last Of The Legend.
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