Jack Milner: Joe Gwingwizha will begin the defence of his title when the 2019/20 Work Riders’ Challenge begin on the Vaal Classic track on Thursday.
The Challenge is a joint initiative between Phumelela, the Racing Association and the Thoroughbred Horseracing Trust which sees work riders compete on three race days annually for prize money totalling R50,000.
It is a points-based competition with points being awarded as follows: First – 10 points; second – 7 points; third – 5 points; fourth – 3 points.
The winner of each of the three meetings receives R5,000. The overall winner receives R20,000, while R10,000 and R5,000 is awarded to the work riders who finish second and third respectively overall.
Gwingwizha will have the assistance of the powerful Sean Tarry yard and his best ride appears to be in Race 2 where he rides Tigermil for the champion trainer. This son of Where’s That Tiger went off 5-2 favourite on debut and proved a nightmare of a ride for Raymond Danielson early on.
Going through the final 400m Tigermil still had more than eight lengths to make up. However, he suddenly realized what he had to do and just took off but failed by one length to catch Bridge Of Spies. Two winners have come from that form line, including Bridge Of Spies who not only won his next start but went on to run third behind King Of The Delta in his following outing.
That run should have taught Tigermil what is expected of him and he looks the outstanding bet on the card.
Another work rider who could be in for a very good day is Chamu Mabaya who will be riding primarily for the Mike de Kock yard. He probably has the best overall rides on the day and looks a prime candidate to collect the R5,000 bonus for winning the first leg.
He rides a first-timer in Race 3 for the yard, a well-bred daughter of new sire Vercingetorix who has been producing winner after winner. De Kock, who trained the colt, has encouraged his patron to invest in the progeny of this son of Silvano. Any money for this filly, Mabella, would be significant and it will be worth keeping an eye on the market.
Two other runners who are likely to start strong favourites for Mabaya are Arnica Montana in Race 6 and Al Ragnar in Race 7. Arnica Montana has raced three times and was beaten less than a length in all three. This is the perfect race to bring on a change of fortune for the three-year-old gelding.
Al Ragnar went off at 33-1 last time and would have won in one more stride. That was over 1800m, but this Captain Al colt, who will be having his third outing, tries 2400m in this event and that could be the distance for which he is looking.
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