TOUGH TASK FOR KNUCKLEBALL?

Finish 1700 Progress Plate Knuckleball, Flasher, Roman Discent, Rebellious Queen
After Sunday’s race meeting there are only two more to look forward to before the annual racing break. When racing returns to Borrowdale Park on September 8 the current crop of three-year-olds will have turned four, with the Classics behind them.

Looking back on the season, so far, it is encouraging to note the number of well-performed three-year-olds which have emerged from Zimbabwe’s very small pool of horses. Several could make their presence felt on Sunday.

Main race on the card is a 1600m MR 80 Handicap where Knuckleball is set to take on older horses, including his stable companions Kevin Barry and Lava Flow. The field includes Last Outlaw, whose last start was at Greyville in July 2017, when he beat Where You (previously known as Gasoline) over 1600m. Haga Haga and Designer Pot also step out here.

Kevin Barry with an MR of 80 carries 60 kgs and Knuckleball (MR 81) is on 59,5 kgs. He will meet Last Outlaw on equal terms, while giving Lava Flow 5.5 kgs and Designer Pot and Haga Haga 7.5 kgs. Quite a tall ask over 1600m when the drag effect of an extra 1 kg is said to be one length over 1600m.

Of course Knuckleball has earned his Merit Rating. His five wins from 12 starts include victories in the Bloodstock SA2000 and the 2400m Zimbabwe Derby. He was second to Butchie Boy in the Zimbabwe Guineas and has won over 1600m and 1700m. This son of Curved Ball (USA) has the ability, and this is his chance to prove that, beyond a shadow of doubt.

Earlier in the afternoon there is a 1600m MR 75 Handicap for three-year-olds where Bugatti Blue, Wild Imogen and maybe Shakespeare InLove look the pick. However, once again weight could count, making Magical Charm a danger.

Another three-year-old, Peggson, makes life interesting in the get-out stakes, a 1200m Graduation Plate restricted to maidens and one and two-time winners. In his last outing, Peggson was a surprising second to Simona in the 1800m OK Grand Challenge when carrying 52 kgs.

He went into that race with an MR of 68 and has now shot up to MR 84. Not that Merit Ratings count in Graduation Plates, but The Catcher and Peggson, as two-time winners, both carry 60 kgs here.

To date 1200m has not been Peggson’s game – he won over 1600m and 1700m – so White Winter, The Catcher and Silver Buck (with blinkers) are probably better bets.

The first race on Sunday is due off at 12.35.

Photograph: FLASHBACK to December 2017 when Knuckleball won a 1700m Progress Plate, followed across the line by Flasher On The Run, Roman Discent and Rebellious Queen.

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