Some races appear to be more complicated than others, and the first race at Borrowdale Park on Saturday, a 1260m MR 55 Handicap, fits the bill. All 8 runners will have locally based jockeys aboard, including the four apprentices who can each claim 4 kgs. Perhaps that’s where the complications begin.
At first glance Clash City Rocker and White Winter catch the eye – White Winter has the outside draw – but both might prefer a slightly shorter trip. Nikki Sibanda rides White Winter (60.5 kgs) and Brendon McNaughton is on Clash City Rocker (59.5 kgs).
The other experienced jockeys involved are Daniel Frank on Midnight Rambler (52,5 kgs) and Boniface Vengesa on Wee Doch ‘n Dorris (55.5kgs).
After that the apprentices come into play. Which just might be the understatement of the year.
Mill Creek and Lunar Dancer were set to carry 62.5 kgs and 62 kgs respectively but Mill Creek will have *Rodgers Satombo in the irons while *Omeara Rusike rides Lunar Dancer. Both apprentices will claim 4 kgs and this quartet have met before.
On October 5, over 1100m, Lunar Dancer (*Omeara Rusike) and Mill Creek (*Rodgers Satombo) were involved in a very tight finish and the race went to Lunar Dancer, after an objection against Mill Creek who was conceding half a kilogram then and will do so again here. Saturday’s runners White Winter (McNaughton), and Midnight Rambler (*Shumba) were also in that race.
Lunar Dancer and Mill Creek subsequently met at the last race meeting on November 16 over 1260m but on that occasion Deon Sampson piloted Lunar Dancer who finished 3.25 lengths off the winner, Missouri. Mill Creek was 5.75 lengths back with no excuses in the Stipes Report. However, there is no reason to believe she was unhappy with 1260m as this filly has won from 1100m and 1600m.
Lunar Dancer is distance suited having won over 1260m on March 10 with Hennie Greyling in charge. Saturday’s runner Wee Doch ‘n Dorris, with Norbert Takawira in the irons and receiving 1 kg, was 1.25 lengths behind the winner.
In view of the history it is tempting to think this is a two-horse race but even with weight on their side Lunar Dancer and Mill Creek might find White Winter and Clash City Rocker tough nuts to crack. Weight counts but experience can also tell.
That said, if you go back to September 21, Mill Creek, with Wes Marwing up and at a slight weight disadvantage, beat Clash City Rocker. Lunar Dancer, White Winter and Enter The Dragon over 1100m.
(There are races where it is better not to delve too deeply because that way lies madness. I think this one qualifies.)
Enter The Dragon ridden by Apprentice Munashe Josi and Missy Franklin (Apprentice Walter Shumba) complete Saturday’s field. Both will carry 52.5 kgs – and wait for it…
Enter The Dragon (receiving 1 kg) finished 3 lengths behind White Winter over 1100m on October 20, having won a 1200m Maiden Plate on September 7. Last time out he finished 1.50 lengths off Armstrong over 1200m.
In Armstrong’s race at approximately 450m Missy Franklin (Steyn) became unbalanced when cramped for galloping room on the outside of Enter The Dragon (*Josi) who shifted out. Missy Franklin finished far back but we can probably draw a line through that.
By now you, like me, may be somewhat confused so forget everything you have just read and reach for a pin.
This looks an open but extremely interesting race.
Photograph by Zimbabwe Equine News: Apprentice Rodgers Satombo and Mill Creek team up again.