Mercury Sprint field under the spotlight
THE weight for age Grade 1 Mercury Sprint over 1 200m features all of the top sprinters in the country still in training and is a particularly exciting race as it is around the bend at Greyville and the charge for home off the false rail is a spectacle to behold.
Bull Valley showed in the Tsogo Sun Sprint he has fine cruising speed and a tremendous kick, so he is going to be hard to beat from pole position.
However, interestingly, Sean Tarry’s regular stable jockey S’Manga Khumalo will be aboard Trip To Heaven and is replaced by Karl Zechner on Bull Valley.
Trip To Heaven is deservedly the highest merit rated horse in the field on 120, but the question will be how much ground he will lose at the start.
This horse has a phenomenal tur n of foot and his run here last year can be ignored as he lost plenty of ground as usual and was then rushed up and caught wide.
He is sure to be given a better ride this year. The false rail is set to be five metres , so the front runners and inside drawn horses will not have as much advantage as they had in the recent Grade 2 Post Merchants, where there was virtually no false rail at all over this same course and distance.
However, with the course running fast at present it will still not be easy for Trip To Heaven to make up the leeway.
Sergeant Hardy could be a big runner from draw two as he has good pace and can stay on and he showed his liking for Greyville last time out when caught wide and coming from a long way back for second over 1 100m.
New Predator showed in the IOS Drill Hall Stakes over 1400m he has some pace and his turn of foot and long-striding finish make him one of the dark horses over a trip too sharp, especially if the pace is fast.
Reigning Equus Champion Sprinter Talktothestars was dropped out last year from a wide draw and had too much ground to make up. In the recent Post merchants he was handy and stormed home for a 0,25 lengths second despite giving the winner Search Party 2kg.
July-winning heavyweight jockey Bernard Fayd’Herbe will be aboard, so there will be little or no dead weight to carry, but unfortunately Talktothestars has another very wide draw to overcome so will need more luck than he had last year.
London Call has 3,15 lengths to make up on Bull Valley from the Tsogo Sun and is only 1kg better off.
However, he was right up at the front in the latter race until the closing stages and he has a good kick, so from a good draw of three here he could possibly last long enough to stay in the placings. He might be the pacemaker.
Kangaroo Jack showed how good he was in last year’s Post Merchants over course and distance, where his devastating turn of foot was seen at its best, and after a recent preparation he will be a contender if reproducing that Post Merchants performance. His wide draw is not a great disadvantage for one of his hold up style.
Gulf Storm showed his class in the Tsogo Sun with a 2,55 length fourth, but he is worse off with Bull Valley now and will do well to repeat his fourth place of last year from a tricky draw of eight.
Victorious Jay showed pace and a good kick from a good draw when a narrow second in the Drill Hall so could be dangerous here from a fair draw of seven.
Attenborough is an enigmatic sort with a lot of talent and over his ideal trip he could earn, but on paper he is well held on Tsogo Sun form by Bull Valley, Talktothestars, Gulf Storm and London Call.
Champagne Haze is a dark horse considering the fine turn of foot he showed when winning the Gr 2 Senor Santa over 1160m, but it will be tough from the widest draw of all.
Rivarine has fine pace and possesses a kick,but will need to use his low draw to good effect to be able to reverse Computaform Sprint form with Talktothestars.
Search Party is 2kg worse off with Talktothestars and has the widest draw of all to overcome in the 14 horse field, which will make it tough for him to repeat his start to finish Post Merchants win where he jumped from draw six.
However, he has been progressive this season and can’t be ignored.
Anton Marcus did his homework in his usual professional manner to win comfortably on Red Ray last year and now rides his full brother Brutal Force.
The latter ran a good fourth in the Computaform Sprint but was then tailed off in the Tsogo Sun when reportedly being hit in the eye by something and also found to be not striding out.
However, he now has to overcome a wide draw of 12 and is not quite as talented as Red Ray, who overcame draw nine last year with his early pace and then still found a strong kick.