where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2019-02-17 05:48:14  
Strydom Talks Turffontein

We are currently going through a period of heavy rains and while it's great for the country, it does impact negatively on racing. The tracks are very soft which is unsafe, and while we all want to race because we depend on the income, it is currently not feasible.

From a punter's point of view heavy going can sometimes turn the formbook upside down and you can get huge outsiders winning.

Another factor is the fitness of horses because the training tracks are under water and the horses don't have the workouts they need. For that reason I prefer to lean towards horses not only with form, but especially those who have had recent runs and are fit because they can get away with missing a gallop or two.

I've often heard people say that in South Africa we tend to cancel meetings quickly while in the UK they ride under any conditions. The difference in UK is that the ground has a kind of peat-moss base and as a result it is spongier, where here the ground is softer and we sink in. Heavy rains in the UK are almost commonplace. Horses get withdrawn there when the tracks were called good to firm and when I rode in England I could not believe how good the track was and they're busy withdrawing horses.

I think the only way we will get around missing meetings is to have a Polytrack somewhere, but that does not help when lightning is the cause of meetings being called off.

Because of the soft conditions we tend to find that on the Standside track at Turffontein, where we will now race tomorrow, outside draws up the straight are generally an advantage.

Race 1 is a Maiden Juvenile Plate over 1000m and there are a lot of well-bred unraced horses so watch the betting in case there is any support. On exposed form, the best look to be Seemyvision, Allmyloving and Makara. It is also worth following a stable with juvenile winners because when they do back their runners they have an effective line of how good their horses are.

Race 2 is an Assessment Plate and on merit ratings Vontreo looked the horse to beat but he has been scratched. That leaves Big Voice Jack as the main runner with Greener Pastures as his danger.

Race 3 is a Maiden Plate where my first selection is Atrevete. She finished fourth in her only start and came from quite a long way back. So the extra distance and softer going should be in her favour, as is her outside draw.

The danger is Varquera who also has a good draw and she did finish third in her only start. But that was in a work riders' race where the fields are not always that strong.

Those two should be good enough for the Place Accumulator but if you're looking for a more established horse go with Hartleyfive. If an unraced horse attracts money you might want to add that in as well.

Race 4 is a handicap over 1160m and in a very competitive field I will lean towards form, fitness - and definitely the draw. The horses are Copper Jay, Purple Diamond and Whorly Whorly. If they are not enough maybe a horse like Talktothestars could fly home in the wet conditions. Put them all into the PA. For the Pick 6 you could consider the field as it is very open.

I ride Lazarus Tree who looks held on current form but as he is a young horse he could make enough improvement to run into the places.

Race 5 is a Pinnacle Stakes which should suit your best handicapped runners. We are guided by the handicappers' assessments and after so many runs that should be quite accurate. In this case the three are Will Pays, Captain Aldo and Tilbury Fort, in that order.

However, Will Pays' last two runs have not been that good, and as such, I am leaning towards Captain Aldo and Tilbury Fort who should be suited by the way the race is likely to pan out as I believe there will be a lot of speed. Those are the two for PA.

I'm riding Captain And Master who according to the ratings should run into a minor place, but as he is younger than the others he could make more improvement so I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Add Will Pays into the Pick 6 and maybe my runner.

Race 6 is a fillies' handicap, also over 1400m. My two main selections are Invincible Lady and Strawberry Pavlova. Invincible Lady's merit rating has dropped a couple of points and her replacement rider is 2.5kg claimer Kabelo Matsuyane.

I rode her before and thought she would need further but maybe the fact she is fit and will need extra stamina in the going, could make her the runner to beat. Take those two for the PA and Pick 6.

I'm riding Mrs O who is not far behind Strawberry Pavlova and having No 1 draw could get us very close and you could consider adding her into your Pick 6.

Once you look past those three it becomes very competitive, so if you don't like my choice then add in as many as you can afford.

Race 7 is the Tommy Hotspur Handicap and once again it's very competitive and it's difficult to make a confident selection. My main choices are Exquisite Touch, Rocky Valley, Rivarine and Down To Zero.

I'm not sure if Down To Zero will enjoy 1000m because I rode him last time and he was very soon outpaced. So for that reason include the others in the PA but put him in the Pick 6, along with Rebel's Champ, who likes the wet and is well drawn.

I'm riding Red Chesnut Road who should find this distance too short but there are other races being planned for him.

This is a very difficult race so if you don't like these runners then go with the field.

Race 8 is another Assessment Plate and the best weighted runner is Protea Paradise. He also comes out best on form so on a very difficult card, banker him in all bets.

Race 9 is a Maiden Plate which is quite competitive as there are a couple of lightly raced runners. They are Flash Burn and Ideal Day and they should be good enough for the PA.

For the Pick 6 include Lasair and Sir Geoffrey.

Race 10 is a Maiden Plate with none of the runners showing strong form. My selections are Ever Fair, Minona and Oceania.

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