Sunday, 24 February 2019 22:51

Marshall raiders to strike

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Western Cape raider Rock Of Africa out of Vaughan Marshall’s stable is overdue for a fifth career win and could be up to the task at the Fairview Polytrack on Monday when down in class and partnered by MJ Byleveld in Race 6 and top-rated event, a MR 87 Handicap over 1300m.

Byleveld was aboard three runs back when this five-year-old went off favourite and finished third in a 1200m MR 96 Handicap at Scottsville.

Donovan Dillon had the ride in the gelding’s next two outings when fifth over 1250m at Durbanville, and then obviously in need of the run after a four-month layoff, finished down the field in a MR 90 Handicap at Kenilworth.

The gelding steps out much fitter this time, and it is worth noting that he has raced only once at Fairview and that was a smart win with Byleveld up in a MR 86 Handicap over 1200m on the Polytrack. With the advantage of a favourable draw, the combination has a bright chance to complete the double.

Do not hastily dismiss Alan Greeff-trained three-time winner Jika (Greg Cheyne) after an indifferent last run when sent off favourite and unplaced over 1600m, as there was a report that he was not breathing freely.

The combination had justified favouritism three runs back with a gutsy win over the course and distance, and followed up with a second and a third. The five-year-old gelding returns after a 33-day break and, if fully recovered from his breathing problem, will make his presence felt.

Also to be respected is Gavin Smith-trained Founding Father (Raymond Danielson). This four-time winner comes off a much improved last run with Danielson aboard – running on stoutly and finishing a 0.75-length second in a 1200m MR 80 Handicap on the Polytrack.

The best of the others are Fantasy Art, Sabbatical and High Definition.

Marshall and Byleveld should also strike in Race 2 with Blackbeard in a Maiden Plate over 1600m. This three-year-old has shown steady improvement in his last three runs with a claiming apprentice aboard at Kenilworth.

There was much to like about his most recent outing when staying on gamely and finishing a 1.55-length third out of 16 over 1600m. With Byleveld up this time and taking on lesser company, the gelding rates a Place Accumulator banker and Best Bet of the day.


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