MIKE DE KOCK
Jack Milner: Fitness will be the key question when determining the outcome of Race 7, a Graduation Plate over 1000m, at the Vaal on Thursday.
The two best handicapped runners are coming back from their respective layoffs and that does not make life easy for punters.
Alramz is the horse weighted to win. This son of Soft Falling Rain last ran in the Grade 2 Umkhomazi Stakes over 1200m at Greyville where he ran on well to finish a 0.50-length third behind African Warrior.
Mike de Kock’s charge has been very consistent, having raced five times for a win and three places. His only unplaced run was in the Gold Medallion at Scottsville where he was beaten into sixth place, but just 2.65 lengths behind Eden Roc.
That was 124 days back but if fit and well, looks the horse to beat. He is at least 5.5kg better handicapped than any of his opponents based on merit ratings. Callan Murray takes the ride.
Mr Whatson is the second on the list of well handicapped, but Geoff Woodruff’s charge has not raced since finishing a 2.25-length second behind American Hustle in an Assessment Plate over this course and distance on 4 April.
Prior to that he won two successive races and he, therefore, looks to be quite a decent gelding. He has been out of action for 238 days, so he is likely to be in need of the run. Gavin Lerena has ridden Mr Whatson in all three of his races and is back up again.
One runner who will have no fitness issues is Mythical Bolt. Sean Tarry’s charge returned from a rest in which he was gelded and scored a runaway victory on the Vaal Classic track. He then raced in the Listed Golden Loom Handicap over 1000m at Turffontein but was drawn on the inside of the 15-horse field in the poor going. After showing some pace he faded out to finish 9.25 lengths behind Prince Of Kahal.
This will be his third run after a layoff and this son of Captain Al, with Raymond Danielson up, will go very close indeed.
Urban Rock finished two lengths off Gin Fizz in a Graduation Plate in which the winner was weighted close to a racing certainty. The three-year-old gelding now lines up in a MR 86 Handicap over 1200m and Sean Tarry’s charge should prove hard to beat.
This son of Seventh Rock has run second in both of his runs since coming back from a rest in which he was gelded and should be in peak condition going into this race. Piere Strydom rode him in the run behind Gin Fizz and he will be back in the irons on this occasion.