Jack Milner: Ronnie’s Candy is one of the best three-year-old fillies in the country and St John Gray’s runner will be returning to racing today following an enforced layoff.
The daughter of King Of Kings was suspended after finishing unplaced in the Grade 1 Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic over 1800m at Turffontein after she was found to have bled. She has been out of action for 131, days and Gray has brought her back to contest an Assessment Plate over 1600m up the Vaal straight today.
On paper Ronnie’s Candy has this race at her mercy.
She comes in 7.5kg better handicapped than the second best-weighted runners, Pretty Border and Scent Of Evening.
Add to that, Pretty Border has been performing over a lot further and could find this ‘mile’ a touch short.
Scent Of Evening has run four times and interestingly, in two of those events she raced against Ronnie’s Candy with score at 1-1. The first time they met was in an Assessment Plate over 1400m on this course.
The race was won by Blossom with Scent Of Evening second, 0.60 lengths back, while Ronnie’s Candy finished third, a further 0.60-lengths back.
They are both carrying 1kg more so on that basis, the edge is with the Lucky Houdalakis-trained filly.
The pair met again in the Gauteng Fillies Guineas over 1600m and on this occasion it was all Ronnie’s Candy. She finished fourth, beaten just 1.45 lengths by Nafaayes. Scent Of Evening ended up 8.40 lengths back but jockey Craig Zackey reported to the vet that she was making a respiratory noise but by the time they got back, the vet could not detect anything.
There could well have been some issue with Scent Of Evening as she was out of action from 2 February until 11 June when she came back to run in an Assessment Plate over 1400m at this course.
She lost ground at the start and finished third, beaten three lengths by Afrostar.
So despite the handicap advantage, it should be quite close between Ronnie’s Candy and Scent Of Evening but there are some indications as to why Gray might be expecting a decent run from his filly.
Firstly, the fact he has brought her out over 1600m rather than a sprint could be significant as is the fact he has engaged Gavin Lerena for the ride.
Zackey is back on Scent Of Evening after Muzi Yeni took the ride last time.
If they both falter, then Pretty Border could run them down and David Nieuwenhuizen’s charge will have Ryan Munger up, who has ridden her on a number of occasions and knows the filly well.
The rest of the opposition look rather moderate and are 20kg and more out of kilter with the top runners.