Saturday’s path to punting profits can start with Triptothewoods in Race 1 at Hollywoodbets Durbanville. Justin Snaith’s improving filly makes plenty of appeal coming out of a key Maiden a month ago, where she ran second after being held tight at a crucial stage.
Winter Rainfall, who won on that occasion, followed up with a good try behind Porque Te Vas, being one of only a few horses to make an impact from off the pace at Durbanville last week. To further bolster the strength of that Maiden form line, the 3rd,4th, and 5th placed runners, Candy Town, Nordic Quest, and De Janeiro, have all since gone on to win, making Triptothewoods, under Grant van Niekerk, an obvious choice at odds-on in the 12h45 sprint opener.
P6 dabblers looking to short select can gamble in Leg 1, which is Race 4, an Open Maiden over 1600m. Top-weight Oliver has the best figure after being pipped by Contiguous; he has run well at the course and is ideally drawn at 2. Assuming Adam Marcus has him ready to rock and roll after a 114-day break, he seems sure to feature prominently. Wary bookies have priced him up as the early 22/10 favourite.
No Apologies; receiving 8.5 kg from Oliver rates a live danger. After a rough passage around the bend behind Snow Pilot, he recovered to close ground encouragingly, suggesting he was capable of exiting the Maidens over an extra furlong.
Race 8 is another opportunity to home in on just a few runners. Hammies Hero and ante-post favourite, Dance Variety, look best in Class 3 1250m sprint, though they must get by the feisty Dean Street and then fend off a late-dashing Wyag.
The talented Hammies Hero needed his comeback run behind top division speedball, Ragnar Lothbrok, fading after making a strong mid-race move. He seems teed up to realise earlier potential now that he’s physically stronger. An each-way play at 7/1 makes sense.
But he will need to outduel Adam Marcus’ Dance Variety, who swept smoothly past Dean Street a month ago; it goes great for Craig Zackey and has the ideal, handy running style for Durbanville. Draw 2 is an added plus factor.
Marcus could have a big day – he also saddles class-dropping, All About Al in the finale. The six-year-old has not won in 755 days – hardly a recommendation yet gets relief from the official handicapper at a time when he’s been running well against stronger fields. Maybe, Zackey can roust the 10/1 shot sufficiently to stave off 13 closely matched rivals, though it will be prudent to have more comprehensive cover in the final leg of the P6 and 2nd Jackpot.
Tothemoonandback has recently impressed clock watchers with some rapid come-home sectionals – not that it has added to his measly win tally. Off-pace closers are a hostage to circumstance. They need a solid early pace and tiring front-runners to run at, together with a clear passage in the straight. If that doesn’t happen, they go close – but cannot win.
Should Tothemoonandback get the proper set-up in Race 6 over 1600m, he is good enough to get into the No 1 box at Class 4 level. Whether bettors want to take 7/2 about that eventuality is a value judgement at the heart of the betting challenge.
Jockey Grant van Niekerk lamented the fact that they hardly got out of 3rd gear last time when a slow early pace and a traffic jam down the inner thwarted their best efforts in a race dominated on the front end by cagily ridden, Snaith companion, Que Shiraz.
Maybe a similar scenario plays out yet again to scupper Tothemoonandback’s retrieval mission. Still, a true run race, a longer straight and better luck in running, may, belatedly, see his fortunes turn.