Fourie flies north in bid to keep Gray on a roll
Trainer St John Gray’s decision to engage Cape-based jockey Richard Fourie for five rides at Turffontein on Saturday could reap rewards, with both Strawberry Pavlova and Lake Kinneret serious runners in two of the World Sports Betting Grand Series races.
With the meeting switched from the Vaal to Turffontein, the seventh and eighth races form the two legs of the Grand Series with a gross purse of R500,000 for each race.
With the winning owner receiving R296,800, Gray will have gladly paid Fourie’s airfare as the 32-year-old has been in hot form recently and is very much in the mix for his first jockeys title. At present he is in third place in the national log behind Muzi Yeni, who is in first place with 37 winners. Next is Anton Marcus on 36 winners, followed by Fourie on 34. The ratings were up to October 3.
Fourie’s mount in the seventh race is the Kahal gelding Lake Kinneret, who has a favourable draw and low weight of 52.5kg. In five of his races in 2018, the gelding has carried either 59.5kg or 60kg.
There are a whole host of rivals with claims in this 1,475m event, notably Soldier On, Sail For Joy, Hakeem and sevenyear-old Chepardo.
Jockey Ryan Munger has built a good association with Sail For Joy and Fabian Habib’s runner is expected to take a hand in the finish.
Mike de Kock’s Aussie import Hakeem will strip fitter following his recent third behind Prince Of Kahal, but jockey Randall Simons will have to overcome a shocking draw.
Soldier On, trained by Stuart Pettigrew, has enjoyed two wins in his past five outings and he will sport blinkers in Saturday’s race, for which he is one of the leading fancies in the sponsor’s ante-post market.
Surprisingly, Fourie does not have a ride in the eighth race the second leg of the Grand Series - and here Gavin Lerena’s mount, Mardi Gras, will be the choice of many punters in his third run after a break. The grey son of Oratorio looks destined for a successful season whatever his fate on Saturday.
Finding a horse in a big race that can run well at big odds is the aim of many pundits, and the surprise package could be Sean Tarry’s charge Pilou, who is quoted at 25-1 in latest betting.
The two-week delay in running this meeting - due to unsafe ground at the Vaal - has played into Tarry’s favour as he has had more time to prepare Pilou, who only had his first start of the new season three weeks ago.
If Pilou can reproduce the form that saw him finish second behind stablemate Tilbury Fort in March, then he will be a serious contender.
Geoff Woodruff’s five-yearold Zouaves was well backed to win 2017’s Grand Heritage and jockey Chase Maujean will have the luxury of jumping from stall three. Whether Zouaves can give 4.5kg to Mardi Gras remains to be seen.
Yeni’s mount, Full Of Attitude, will have his supporters and Lucky Houadalakis’s Aussiebred gelding, Huyssteen, is worth including in quartet bets.
Perhaps Fourie’s best chance of returning home with a winner rests with Strawberry Pavlova, who runs in the sixth race, the Grand Series Consolation. There was lots to like about the filly’s recent course win for which she escapes a penalty as it was an Assessment Plate.
Victory for either Strawberry Pavlova or Lake Kinneret would keep Gray’s stable on a roll as he captured last weekend’s Joburg Spring Handicap with his stalwart Captain Aldo.
Gray introduces a newcomer in Paused, a son of Announce, in the second race, where another Lerena mount, Epic Dream, is expected to go close for Candice Dawson’s in-form yard.
However, the market needs a check as Tarry sends out the first-timer African Daisy, a daughter of former champion sire Captain Al. The filly will sport the colours of Irish magnate John Magnier.