Pro­fes­sor Brian in the driv­ing seat

The Star Early Edition - - RACING - DAVID THISELTON

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.

Search Party

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.

Pic­ture: Nkosi Hlophe

PRO­FES­SOR BRIAN

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