Jack Milner: Charities toil for funding at the best of times, but we are currently living through a phase in which more organisations than ever are struggling to keep things together.
That makes the involvement of Peermont Emperors Palace in this year’s Charity Mile a significant deed, and the fact their contribution has remained at R1 million for the 16 charities involved, is heartening.
Of course, there is also the racing aspect and this year finding a winner looks particularly prickly.
One detail that could decide the outcome of the race is whether Paul Peter-trained Riverstown will see out 1600m on the Standside track. The four-year-old son of Byword has tried the distance twice and has only managed a fourth and a sixth place, so on the surface, it does not auger well for his chances.
However, jockey Piere Strydom is confident Riverstown will stay the distance – and further. “I have asked Paul to nominate him for the Summer Cup, which is over 2000m. If he sees out 1600m he will probably be taking his place in that race next month.”
Strydom has ridden the horse four times for a first, a second, a third and a fourth. But he points to the barrier draw as the key problem.
“I’ve ridden him a couple of times where I’ve had to be vigorous early on to get a position out the gates because he continually lands wide draws.
“Despite all that, he stayed on well. Luckily, for a change, we have a good draw (No 7) and I can be more conservative on him.”
Strydom also pointed out the son of Byword has improved with gelding. “He needed that badly, and he won well in his first run back as a gelding.”
Considering what went wrong, Riverstown did not put up a bad effort when fourth behind Mount Pleasant in the Grade 2 Joburg Spring Challenge over 1450m. He drew No 11 of the 12 runners and hurt his eye when he broke through the front of the stall and had to be reloaded.
The most supported runner in the betting so far has been Cornish Pomodoro, one of four runners from Sean Tarry’s yard. He is 2.5kg out at the weights with most of the field but has only raced six times for two wins and two seconds and is surely better than his current merit rating.
The four-year-old is another who has benefited from gelding as he came back from a rest last time and the result was never in doubt. There would have been more to tell if well-backed Pack Leader hadn’t been badly taken out early in the race and it had been more of a challenge.
But that four-length victory was impressive and with just 52kg to carry, two-time champion jockey Lyle Hewitson up and a very nice No 4 draw, Cornish Pomodoro will be a massive runner.
“He is doing very well at work. He had a good, smooth prep, which he won and has improved from there,” said Hewitson on Thursday.
“His main target is the Summer Cup, but he is ready, and I’m happy to be aboard him.”
There are two lightly weighted fillies in Victoria Paige, also Tarry trained, and Magic School from the Gary Alexander yard, who are very talented and must come into the reckoning.
Justin Snaith will be bringing Crown Towers up from KZN and he has good enough form to be competitive, although he might be better over further.
To make the day even more lucrative there are a number of carryovers. The Pick 6 MEGAPOOL will kick off with a R1,500,000 carryover and the likely pool is R7,500,000
Jackpot 1 starts in Race 5 with R200,000 boosting the pool, which is likely to reach R1,500,000.
There is also a Pick 3 carryover of R50,000 on Races 8, 9, and 10 and the pool is expected to reach R200,000.
Finally, there will be a Quartet MAXIPOOL on the Charity Mile, Race 7, and that is likely to reach R1,400,000.
Now this is a bet you really want to catch as this Quartet will pay good money, no matter what the result.
The advice for the Quartet is to double float Riverstown and Cornish Pomodoro, ideally with the field, but if not, take as many runners as your budget will allow.
Jack Milner’s selections
Race 1: Florentine, Sweet Future, Oblige, Queen Anne’s Lace
Race 2: Battle Force, Al Qaasim, Sea Virescent, Bold Jazz
Race 3: Spice Market, Mirren, Lucy Belle, Right Choice
Race 4: Due Diligence, Ecstatic Green, Caralluma, La Luvia
Race 5: Malmoos, Al Muthana, Forever Mine, Willow Express
Race 6: War Of Athena, Mk’s Pride, Somasonic, Afternoon Tea
Race 7: Riverstown, Cornish Pomodoro, Victoria Paige, Magic School
Race 8: Heart Stwings, Dance Class, Invisible, Shivers
Race 9: Captain Hindsight, Singforafa, Rivarine, Bohica
Race 10: Sworder Street, Snow Palace, Factor Fifty, Barak
Race 1 No 9 Florentine
Race 4 No 5 Due Diligence
Race 10 5×6
Leg 1: 3, 5, 7, 15
Leg 2: 1, 2, 11, 13
Leg 3: 1, 2, 5
Leg 4: 2, 6
Leg 5: 10
Leg 6: 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 16
Leg 1: 1, 2, 11
Leg 2: 1, 2, 5
Leg 3: 2, 6
Leg 4: 10
Leg 5: 4, 11, 16
Leg 6: 6, 7
Leg 7: 1, 2, 5, 11
Leg 1: 1, 2, 5
Leg 2: 2, 6
Leg 3: 1, 10
Leg 4: 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 16
Leg 5: 6, 7, 8
Leg 6: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12
Leg 1: 1, 2, 6
Leg 2: 1, 10
Leg 3: 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 16
Leg 4: 1, 2, 6, 7, 8
Leg 1: 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 16
Leg 2: 1, 2, 6, 7, 8
Leg 3: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12
Leg 4: 5, 6