Professor Brian in the driving seat
THE Gr 2 Post Merchants over 1200m is always one of the most exciting races of the SA Champions Season as the early speed at which sprinters travel can be seen from side on as they rush for the turn at Greyville and the best of them still manage to find another gear in the straight in the charge for home.
Professor Brian is unbeaten in five runs as a gelding. He is usually held up and then simply mows the field down. His best assets are his superb turn of foot and big stride. He is officially not well handicapped in this conditions event as he is merit rated 91 and all horses on a 94 merit rating and lower carry 52kg. However, he has been taking giant steps from a lowly starting point of 58 and could defy the handicapper again. His hold up style means the draw of 12 will not be an insurmountable disadvantage.
Seventh Plain, a big long-striding bay gelding, looked something special when winning the Gr 1 Tsogo Sun Gold Medallion as two-year-old over this trip at Scottsville and he followed up by winning the Gr 1 Durban Golden Horseshoe over 1400m.
He disappointed as a three-year-old but caught the eye in no uncertain terms in his second run as a gelding when staying on strongly for a 3,5 length third to London Call over 1100m at Scottsville. He was 1,5kg under sufferance with the winner that day and it was also his first run since returning from Cape Town.
He has landed a plum draw of four and off his 97 merit rating falls halfway between the top and the bottom of his 9599 merit rated band in the conditions event. The fillies always have an advantage in these races on paper. Joan Ranger off 101 is near the bottom of the 100 to 104 merit rated band but her 2,5 kg gender allowance gives her a shout over an ideal trip, although her tough draw of 14 will be particularly tough as she is a type who likes to be handy.
Brett Crawford-trained horses can never be ignored these days and the improved Search Party has a chance despite a draw of nine. The weights for the Post Merchants were set before the running of the Gr 1 Tsogo Sun Sprint, where he was runner up but being raised from 106 to 109 has made no difference to his weight for this race as the 58kg band is for 105 to 109 ratings.
His stablemate Gulf Storm, fourth in the Tsogo Sun, remains on a 106 rating and considering he finished fourth in last year’s Gr 1 weight for age Mercury Sprint over this course and distance he has ag shout.
Amazing Strike has always been well regarded and has turned the corner so is a runner over a suitable trip from a plum draw. Barbosa ran a fine third in the Tsogo Sun and a repeat will see him have a chance as his 104 rating falls at the top of the 56kg band.
Çaptain’s Causeway’s 104 rating falls at the top of his band and he wasn’t disgraced in the Tsogo Sun.
Talktothestars was unlucky from a wide draw in the Mercury Sprint last year and now has a plum draw of three, although he has to give the whole field 2kg and will need a reproduction of his penultimate start in the Computaform Sprint.
Lord Balmoral had some good form in Cape Town but has to bounce back from a disappointing Champions Season pipe opener at Scottsville.
Just As I Said is a speedy sort who has improved and, although his last start suggests the handicapper now has his measure, he is drawn in pole and can’t be ignored. Redcarpet Captain has always been full of ability and has won his last two, both on the poly over this trip, but he has not raced since last September.
Top Form is course and distance suited but needs to bounce back from a thrashing by Professor Brian on the poly.
Captain Swarovski looks a bit high in the weights and was well beaten by Top Form last time he ran at Greyville, albeit on the poly.
Mr Roy was beaten in a lesser handicap the last time he tried this trip.