The Devil and Val Aiming For The Skies

The Devil and Val Aiming For The Skies 26 April, 2012
– Lisa Barrett

Saturday 28th April will witness one of the most exciting and richest days of racing on the South African calendar. With prize money of over R7 million on offer, it promises to be a thrilling days racing.

Two of KZN’s top ladies will be in action on the big day, and it’s hoped that both can repeat their earlier racing successes, and once again show the that KZN is the breeding grounds for champions!

Topping the racing card are four Grade One events and five Grade 2 events on the card and all of the races are likely to throw up some fascinating contests. The two Grade One fixtures that KZN race goers will be fixated upon is the R2 million Presidents Champion Challenge (Gr.1) over 2000m, and the Computaform Sprint

Dancewiththedevil, the champion KZN mare will have her work cut out for her in the WFA contest though, as she will be at level weights against another champion mare, Europa Point. Strategy could play a big factor in the race, as Gavin Lerena will ride Dancewiththedevil, and the master strategist himself, Anton Marcus, will ride Bravura. Lerena and The Devil have had a fruitful and winning partnership, he rode her with great skill to victory in the Horse Chestnut Stakes (Gr.1).


Dancewiththedevil’s other potential threat could be Bravura, though he goes into the race with some doubts over his fitness and ability, having raced well below par in the Horse Chestnut in March. One can never underestimate his rider, Anton Marcus, though, and his ability to pull the rabbit out of the hat. The talented Seal could factor a place in the race, as he loves the Turffontein track, having won the Wolf Power Stakes (Listed) a few weeks back and the distance shouldn’t be a problem for him. However whether he can repeat his SA Derby form here is questionable. The Colorado King Stakes heroine, Flirtation is in with a good shout as well, and is able to handle any and all types of conditions.

All of KZN will be holding their breath as the The “Devil” goes for glory. The draw will not be a problem, it’s the punishing track itself, particularly the relentless but steady climb as the track turns into the 1400m and then levels out for the last 800m dash. If the Devil is in top nick, which she is likely to be, thanks to St John Gray, and the conditions are softer, which she relishes, we could see a memorable victory here.

The Computaform Sprint is likely to be a contest of who is the fittest. The KZN based Dennis Drier-trained champion mare Val De Ra, will really be up against it in the Gr.1 Computaform Sprint, where she takes on the likes of the multiple Group-winning Mike Bass trained colt, What A Winter. Seeing that Val De Ra has beaten What A Winter twice before when they’ve met, the omens are good that she will repeat her success. The distance should suit her down to the ground, as she is good in both soft and firm conditions, and it’s hoped the lengthy break she’s had will be to her advantage.

Granted, What A Winter is still rapidly improving, he very nearly beat her in the Cape Flying earlier this year, whether he will like the Turffontein course, having lost to Val De Ra in the very same race last year, remains to be seen. He is also coming off a lengthy rest and it could be down to fitness alone here. Others that could pose a threat are Shea Shea, the 2011 Golden Horseshoe Sprint (Gr.1) victor, who loves the Turffontein track and the ultra consistent and game Mannequin.

One lingering question will be, can J.J.The Jet Plane repeat his earlier South African and international success at Turffontein. Undoubtedly a crowd favourite, J.J is getting on in years (nearly 8), and one wonders if it isn’t time for this fine warrior to call it a day.

Whatever the outcomes of the various races, KZN racing can hold its head up high, knowing it’s given South Africa two of the most memorable mares that have raced on our tracks in the last decade.

Lisa Barrett
– Guest Writer

“Lisa Barrett”, her psuedonym, currently works at a stud farm in the KZN Midlands – a position she has held for the past eight years. She describes herself as “absolutely and totally besotted by horses” and she is in a fortunate position to work with a stallion she idolises every day. She describes herself as “continually fascinated by every aspect of the racehorse business, especially pedigrees!”

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