Monday, 18 February 2019 20:05

Let Lerena lead the way

websize gaving lerena

Punters are dusting off wallets and thinking caps as weather boffins predict sunny skies for the coming week.

But, be warned, the outlook is not so fair on the form-study front, with challenging cards in store.

Tuesday’s action at the Vaal Classic track is a case in point, with an 11-race programme packed with highly competitive contests.

It doesn’t help that the best bet comes late in the day, in a race that falls outside the exotic wagers.

Ilha Da Varlette, from the Geoff Woodruff stable with Gavin Lerena up, is a very progressive young filly, with three wins from five starts over 1000m. She tilts for a course-and-distance hat-trick and is likely to be a worthy favourite for Race 10, a FM 91 Handicap and the meeting’s highest-rated event.

In our search for a banker in the earlier races, though, perhaps we should take our cue from the in-form Lerena, who has a number of good rides.

One of the former champion’s standout bookings is another Woodruff runner, Polar Ice, in Race 7, a MR 84 Handicap over 1450m.

This four-year-old is up against a handful of pretty useful sprinter-milers, but, crucially, he has the No 3 gate at the start of the right-hand bend on the riverside course. That, combined with a peak run, push him to the forefront of calculations and he could be considered a banker.

However, if you have doubts about Polar Ice, you might as well put in the entire eight-horse field as it would be no great surprise to see any result here.

Nordic Rebel, trained by Erico Verdonese and ridden by Warren Kennedy, has been performing very consistently for months and looks the main danger.

Much the same argument can be made for Paul Peter’s charge Bold Coast, who has Craig Zackey in the irons, and for Paul Matchett’s Dan The Lad with S’manga Khumalo aboard – although the latter must start from the widest gate.
Other possibilities for going narrow in the exotics are in Races 4 and 5.

In the first of these, a FM 80 Handicap over 2000m, Lerena partners Woodruff’s Sunshine Silk, a game staying filly who looks overdue a win. She must, however, carry a hefty 61kg and could get caught out by one of her lighter-weighted rivals. Seville Orange looks decent value in that respect.

In Race 5, a MR 88 Handicap over 1800m, Lerena does duty on trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren’s Divine Odyssey, who looks likely to fight out the finish with the Mike de Kock-trained Hakeem.

Divine Odyssey has not been disgraced in decent company in recent times and a powerful ride from Lerena might be just what he needs to post a fourth career victory. The one doubt is the 60kg he must lug around.

Aristocratically bred Australian import Hakeem has been an expensive horse to follow, a frequent favourite who somehow always finds someone to beat him. But here, with just 53kg on his back – mostly in the shape of the livewire Kennedy – he could make amends.

Other Lerena mounts worthy of inclusion in bets are Mount Rainier in Race 1, Ancient Spirit in Race 9 and Coyote Girl in Race 11. If things go his way, the ace jockey could come away from the meeting with a decent haul.

www.tabnews.co.za

 

Read 220 times Last modified on Monday, 18 February 2019 20:07

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