Johan Janse van Vuuren picked up a double at Greyville last Wednesday but will be looking to fry a bigger fish at the same venue on Saturday where he saddles New Predator (AUS) in the R800,000, Grade 1 Mercury Sprint (1200m).
The Australian-bred colt has found Greyville a happy hunting ground, having won the Drill Hall Stakes last year and then finishing a close-up fourth to Marinaresco in the same race last month, beaten under a length.
New Predator, picture Nkosi Hlophe
He had a coffin draw of 14 out of 14 in the Grade 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge and expended most of his energy in an effort to make it into a handy position before the turn which left the tank all but dry over the final 100m.
Under the circumstances he did well to stay on to finish four lengths off Captain America.
New Predator is not short of early pace and with the addition of blinkers to his equipment tomorrow he could well put one over the more accomplished sprinters. An added arrow to his quiver is that Gavin Lerena has delayed his trip back to the UK to finish up his contract to partner New Predator.
Recent Grade 1 Tsogo Sun Sprint winner Bull Valley, winner of five of his nine starts, will be looking to end his season on a high for champion trainer elect Sean Tarry who holds a strong hand in the race. However, stable companion Trip To Heaven looks the better proposition.
Trip To Heaven loves Greyville, having twice finished second in the Rising Sun Gold Challenge, the first time after being relegated, but he also shows top sprint form having won the Grade 2 Merchants beating Bull Valley and finishing second to star stable companion Carry On Alice in the Grade 1 Cape Flying Championship.
He is generally a tardy starter but possesses a tremendous turn of foot and he will be running hard at New Predator come the final furlong.
Bull Valley is no slouch but Talktothestars, once the highest rated horse in the country, has found form again. He was unlucky in the Tsogo Sun Sprint where he was checked just as he was about to make his run, losing all momentum. He followed up when a fast-finishing runner-up to Search Party in the Grade 2 Post Merchants. Connie de Beer’s charge has only managed one victory this term, that in a Pinnacle Stakes in Kimberley in his seasonal opener, but he has finished close-up in both the Grade 1 Computaform Sprint to Carry On Alice and was ‘flying’ when second to Search Party in the Post Merchants.
A wide draw should not be much of a concern as he is likely to be paired with Trip To Heaven towards the rear of the field in the early exchanges and it will be up to Bernard Fayd’Herbe to find a trouble-free run to the wire.
Brutal Force is way better than his Tsogo Sun effort and was a neck behind Talktothestars in the Computaform Sprint. He is drawn one inside of Talktothestars and has Anton Marcus to help him home.
These five look to be the main protagonists and New Predator is taken to get home ahead of Trip To Heaven and Talktothestars.
The Hollywood Bets Queen Palm Stakes has attracted a small but quality field where tactics are likely to prove paramount. There are a number of runners who like to race handy so a slow pace is unlikely and the cards could fall the way of Trophy Wife, even though Tarry’s first call rider, S’Manga Khumalo, has opted for Witchcraft.
Apprentice Lyle Hewitson has a fine pair of hands which will suit the mare and she is sure to be running at them when the whips are cracking.
Girl On The Run has never been out of the money for Janse van Vuuren and she was running on well behind Zante in the recent Track & Ball Oaks over the distance at Scottsville and has a master of pace in the saddle.