The Tote Free Handicap, for all three-year-olds, run over 1600m, will not necessarily provide insight into the 2018 three-year-old Classics. In the Classics the contestants will meet at set weights – in the Tote Free they meet according to the handicapper’s assessment of performance, so far.
However, I have to admit that in 2015 and 2016 the handicapper was spot on as far as winners of this race were concerned.
Of the seven due to line up at Borrowdale Park on Saturday, Flanders, Champion Juvenile Male 2016/17, and winner of four races, will carry top weight of 60 kgs. He will be giving 0.5 kg to Peggson who has beaten Flanders over the distance by four lengths, and 2kgs to stable mate Butchie Boy, who finished two lengths behind Peggson that day.
Peggson certainly has the credentials but his stable companion, Knuckleball, also has some claims. The son of Curved Ball won over 1600m at the last meeting and prior to that ran four lengths off Peggson over 1700m. They met at level weights then, but on Saturday Knuckleball carries 54 kgs to Peggson’s 59.5 kgs.
As for the rest of the runners this will be their first attempt at the mile. Recent import Soaring High, by Windrush (USA), is a very dark horse indeed. He has a Merit Rating of 71, will carry 58 kgs and has won once and been placed once, from four starts in Gauteng.
The two locally bred horses, Edward The Seventh and Silver Buck, are also difficult to assess. These lightly raced stable mates have both won over 1200m but step up in class now – albeit it with some weight on their side.
In 2016 the Tote Free was won by Wylde Style carrying 60 kgs, followed by Jameson Run (54kgs), Haga Haga (52 kgs) and Devil In Command (52.5 kgs). No fillies take part this year.
In 2015 Call Me Earl, the winner, carried 60 kgs, and he was followed by Super Good (58.5), Duffi’s Call (52) and Rocky Road (52.5).
On previous form around the turn Amy Bronkhorst has a strong hand with Peggson and Knuckleball, but the Stidolph pair, Flanders and Butchie Boy, cannot be ignored. Of course I am always prepared to be surprised and only hope Tellytrack gives this race the attention it deserves. We are racing on a Saturday, which has in the past proved dicey as far as TV coverage is concerned.
The first race is due off at 12.35 pm. The Tote Free Handicap will be run at 14.50, followed by the main race of the day, the $13 000 HRIB Gold Cup, at 15.30 pm.
THE TOTE FREE FIELD
1 4 FLANDERS 60.0 75 A C Storey Bridget Stidolph
2 6 PEGGSON 59.5 74 A J Sampson Amy Bronkhorst
3 7 BUTCHIE BOY 58.0 71 A B McNaughton Bridget Stidolph
4 3 SOARING HIGH 58.0 71 A J Greyling Penny Fisher
5 1 EDWARD THE SEVENTH 55.0 65 S S Brown Kirk Swanson
6 2 KNUCKLEBALL 54.0 63 S K Derere Amy Bronkhorst
7 5 SILVER BUCK (ZIM) 53.0 61 S *M Mjoka (1.5) Kirk Swanson