This Borrowdale Park race meeting – the first of 2017 – looks set to be more of a mind game than usual. The recent departure of Gokhan Terzi, rather more than less, to the Vaal, has resulted in the remaining trainers battling to keep the scheduled races alive. Now we have to decide who is in it to win it, who is out for a run and who would rather have stayed in the stables.
Not that I have any objection to mind games because that, after all, is what makes racing special. There is so much more to it than simply ticking off names in a box. With a bit of thought one can pick up a Quartet or two, and Borrowdale Quartets are worth winning.
The main event on Sunday is the 1100m Hachiman Sprint where Kirk Swanson will saddle five of the eight runners and of these I would say Road To Dubai is definitely in to win, although Penny Fisher’s charge, Sheik’s Brashee, is there to spoil his fun.
Bridget Stidolph fields the in-form Super Good, and Amy Bronkhorst’s three-year-old star, Wylde Style, also gets the chance to show how good she is up against the big boys.
We have to consider the going, and long distance predictions are about as reliable as weather forecasts seem to be right now. There is likely to be a lot more rain, punctuated with brilliant sunshine, and Borrowdale Park drains well.
In a field of this nature expect some surprises. In fact the more I think about it the more this seems a fascinating race. Expect more of the same in the rest of Sunday’s races. Dare I say the Hachiman Sprint runners listed below appear in order of preference? I don’t think so.
SHEIK’S BRASHEE – (63 kgs) Ignore his last outing in the Zimbabwe Challenge as 1450m has never been his game. Concentrate rather on the MR 95 Handicap run over 1100m on November 6, which he won, beating Approval Rating and Road To Dubai, and the HRIB Gold Cup on December 18 when Sheik’s Brashee ran third to Road To Dubai, giving his younger paternal half-brother 6 kgs for a 2.60 lengths beating. He will be 3kgs better off on Sunday. Ryan Munger rides and he jumps from the number 2 stall. Likely Tote favourite.
ROAD TO DUBAI – (60 kgs) winner of the 1200m HRIB Gold Cup on December 18, but with the turnaround in weights this gifted sprinter has more to do here. Ran a shocker in November when third to Sheik’s Brashee over 1100m but was hanging-in in the final 250m. Keagan de Melo rides on Sunday from a number 3 draw. Four of Road To Dubai’s 8 wins have been over Sunday’s distance so definitely in with a big shout .
TAMARIND – (52 kgs) drawn 7 out of 8, Kevin Derere rides this son of Kahal (GB) for the first time. With Keagan de Melo aboard Tamarind finished a creditable third to Newton Power and Road To Dubai over 1200m on May 7, and he is also lightly weighted here. He ran behind Sunday’s runners Super Good and Wylde Style over 1260m but meets them now on slightly better terms. Definitely in my Quartet.
The two younger horses, SUPER GOOD and WYLDE STYLE both carry 54 kgs and have drawn 4 and 5 respectively. Eric Pheiffer will ride Wylde Style while Fanie Chambers has Super Good. Neither of these horses have taken on the likes of Sheik’s Brashee and Road To Dubai previously, but considering the weight they will have on their side I don’t know what to expect. The Quartet looms larger.
MADIGAN – (57.5 kgs) – drawn 1 – Sherman Brown in the irons. Was no slouch over 1100m and 1200m initially, but that was a long time ago and he has gathered most of his many laurels over more ground. The inclusion of this talented 8-year-old makes life interesting but I don’t think he will make my quartet on Sunday – but OMG imagine the payout if this old favourite pulls a fast one.
PERFECT GRACE – 53 kgs – has the outside draw and Brendon McNaughton aboard – neither of these factors would one normally choose to overlook. However, 1400m is the shortest trip this five-year-old son of Antonius Pius (USA) has ever attempted so maybe give him a miss. Of course I – and everyone who has trained this horse to date – could be wrong. We have to wait and see.
SILVA HAWK – (60kgs) – Norbert Takawira rides. Drawn 6. A 7-year-old son of Silvano (GER) having his first start at Borrowdale. Three-time winner at Scottsville, Turffontein and Greyville from 1400m to 1600m. Last race was at Greyville in February 2016 – watch for now.
The first race is due off at 12 40. Come rain or shine, if you can, please be there to support the trainers who have had to pull out most of the stops for Sunday.
Photograph courtesy of Zimbabwe Equine News. If there is a deluge could the lightly weighted Tamarind surprise us?