Mer­cury Sprint field un­der the spot­light

The Star Early Edition - - RACING -

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.

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