Jack Milner: The second leg of the annual R50,000 Work Riders’ Challenge will take place at the Vaal on Thursday, which gives those people who work behind the scenes in racing a chance to show off their talents.
There is a lot of money up for grabs for these work riders, many of whom work for some of the top stables in the country.
There is a R5,000 prize money for the day’s winner, as well as a big R20,000 pay day for the winner of all three legs of the Challenge.
All eight races are Maiden Plates which means there are some particularly well weighted runners in some of the events which will give them a massive advantage over the opposition.
The most interesting race on the card is Race 6, Maiden Plate over 2400m in which Mike de Kock holds a strong hand with three runners, all of whom have a winning chance.
The best of the three could be Nimitz, who has leading work rider Chamu Mabaya in the irons. Nimitz had had two runs since having been gelded and ran on well last time in his first attempt over 2000m. He should appreciate the extra distance.
Tilmeeth must have needed his last run. He had one run after having been gelded which was most promising. It was over 1450m and saw him finish second, beaten one length by African Darter.
He then had a number of races lined up but the rains hit the Highveld and quite a few meetings were lost. When he finally did run, some seven weeks later, he faded out late to finish a four-length fifth behind Seventh Patriots.
This will be the first time he tries the distance so he might be suspect over 2400m.
The same could apply to Earth Shaker who has not tried the trip but on his dam side there is some staying blood and he should do well with work rider and defending champion Joe Gwingwizha in the irons.
There look to be two bankers on the card for those taking Jackpots and Pick 6s. The scratching of Adorable Alley in Race 5 has opened the door for The Jocelyn Tree to finally get out of the maiden ranks. This is another good ride for Gwingwizha who could have a good day at the Vaal. This Gary Alexander-trained filly has been close up in her last two starts and for once, bumps a moderate field.
The best bet on the card looks to be Curvation who looks way better than her opposition in Race 7, a Maiden Plate for fillies and mares over 1800m. She ran on well under Sam Mosia in a work rider’s race over 1400m at the Vaal last time and Mosia gets the ride again.
Trained by Weiho Marwing, Curvation has only raced four times and looks to have the most room for improvement.