Business Day

Two ex­pen­sive Aussie im­ports set for Vaal de­buts

- DAVID MOLLETT Rac­ing Writer

FORMER cham­pion trainer, Mike de Kock, in­tro­duces two Aus­tralian-bred three-year-olds for Thurs­day’s eigh­trace pro­gramme at the Vaal.

In the first race, De Kock sends out Springhill­s who is a son of worl­drenowned stal­lion Re­doubte’s Choice. Last sea­son’s lead­ing ap­pren­tice, Cal­lan Mur­ray, has been booked for the ride.

While the mar­ket will be the best guide to Springhill­s’ chance, the colt would not have to be any­thing spe­cial to open his ac­count at the first time of ask­ing as his ri­vals have not achieved a lot to date.

The other Aus­tralian three-year-old, who will have cost plenty as a year­ling, is Al Hamid who makes his de­but in the third race. JP van der Merwe will be in the sad­dle.

While the big three-year-old races are still some way off, De Kock will want to get these ex­pen­sive pur­chases started and — from a lowly in­tro­duc­tion at the Vaal — both im­ports could go on to greater things.

Another De Kock first-timer on Thurs­day is Crown Court who is a (8) Springhill­s (4) Mind Shade (7) Jim Cobb (10) Pip­kin (3) Ri­varine (6) Red Rock (1) Ron­nie Rocket (4) Ro­que­burne (6) Al Hamid (3) Fly­ing Fool (7) Bono (10) Grey Of Wil­ton (9) Anna Pavlova (12) Crown Court (13) French Le­gend (1) Count­ess Jem­ina (6) Bank­ing April (4) In The Web (2) Matilda’s Daugh­ter (11) Jackie's Joy (3) Hid­den Agenda (4) Henry Hig­gins (5) Rocky Stal­lone (1) King­mambo’s Legacy (12) The Red Light (9) Star Of Cae­sour (1) Malala (2) Caitlin’s An­swer (10) Rac­ing Socks (6) El Bombero (1) Stunned (9) Shot daugh­ter of former cham­pion sire Fort Wood. We­i­chong Mar­wing has rid­den many win­ners for the sta­ble and he is en­trusted with the ride on the three­year-old filly.

Mar­wing can ex­pect a strong chal­lenge from trainer Roy Mag­ner’s run­ner, Anna Pavlova. She boasts some con­sis­tent form and Mag­ner has called up in-form jockey Gavin Ler­ena for the ride. French Le­gend and Count­ess Jem­ina will both have their sup­port­ers in this race so it is not an easy first leg of the jack­pot for pun­ters.

One of the best races at the meet­ing could be the sec­ond which fea­tures two veteran mem­bers of the jock­eys room — An­drew For­tune and Piere Stry­dom — who can still teach their younger op­po­nents a trick or two.

For­tune, who is go­ing flat out to win the jock­eys cham­pi­onship for the sec­ond time, rides Ri­varine for trainer Michael Azzie while Stry­dom part­ners Red Rock for cham­pion trainer Sean Tarry.

Although Ron­nie Rocket can be given an each-way chance, this looks a match be­tween the two top sta­bles and both Ri­varine and Red Rock will be hav­ing their first out­ings in the new cam­paign.

Trainer Brian Wiid and jockey Chase Mau­jean teamed up to win the last race at the Vaal on Tues­day with Streetwear and they could re­peat the feat with Rac­ing Socks in to­day’s eighth race.

With Sean Tarry’s run­ner El Bombero likely to start favourite, Rac­ing Socks should start at at­trac­tive odds and the geld­ing could well be a banker bet in the place ac­cu­mu­la­tor.

Henry Hig­gins has been a stal­wart mem­ber of Paul Peters’s sta­ble for a long time and the geld­ing makes his 73rd race­course ap­pear­ance in the sixth race. While there will not be many pun­ters leav­ing the geld­ing out of their ex­otic bets, he faces a for­mi­da­ble op­po­nent in Scott Kenny’s run­ner Hid­den Agenda.

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