Hard workers aim to dethrone Mosia
The first leg of this season’s Work Riders’ Challenge is contested today on the Vaal Classic track where Sam Mosia will be giving it his all to defend the title he won last season.
The Challenge is run over three meetings, with the second taking place on Thursday 26 January and the third and final meeting scheduled for Thursday 13 April.
Work riders score points for finishing in the Quartet, earning 10 points for a win, seven points for a runner-up finish, five points for completing the Trifecta and three points for a fourth place.
Last year Mosia won the title after accumulating 91 points, followed by Phenisile Mongqawa in second place with 85 points and Tshepiso Matsoele in third on 53 points.
While Mosia has secured seven rides on the eight-race card, he has his work cut out to be crowned champion work rider again.
His best ride is undoubtedly Prime Example for trainer Ashley Fortune in Race 4, a Maiden Plate over 2400m.
This Canford Cliffs gelding looks to be begging for distance and finally gets it after 13 runs.
In the card opener, a Maiden plate for fillies and mares over 1000m, Wayton van Staden looks set to grab the early lead in the series aboard War Empress for trainer Ashley Fortune.
The 26-year-old has scored twice in his last six outings, with his first career win coming back in 2013.
He returned to racing in May this year after a seven-year absence and looks a completely different man to the boy he was back in 2015 when he took time out.
In Race 2, a Maiden Plate over 1000m, Mongqawa looks the obvious choice aboard Mandalay.
With 29 career wins under his belt, Mongqawa knows what this series is all about and won’t be wasting any opportunities to accumulate points.
Joe Gwingwizha, who won the Work Riders’ Challenge a couple of years back, has also picked up some decent rides for trainer Sean Tarry. His best ride comes up in Race 8, a Maiden Plate for fillies and mares over 1450m, where he rides National Star.
This three-year-old daughter of Pomodoro finished runner-up twice, followed by two third-place finishes in her last four outings all over 1600m.
In all four those runs she did the frontrunning, but was overtaken near the line. The drop in distance could well see her maintaining first spot when she meets the judge, should the same tactics be followed.
Judged on the first leg, this year’s Work Riders’ Challenge seems a very open affair and it won’t surprise to see some new riders stepping up to challenge the seasoned veterans.