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– Written by Mark van Deventer

The Easter Sprint is a tricky little heat with seven closely matched runners dashing 1100m. There is a 12kg spread at the weights from RIO QUERARI (63kg’s) at the top of the scale down to low weights, TOUGH TERRAIN and ELUSIVE WINTER (51 kg’s).

RIO QUERARI was a champion in his prime with a great turn of foot. Connections are persevering as he is sounder than when he was a youngster, and he is still enjoying racing as a seven-year-old. He has placed a few times this past summer behind THUNDERSTRUCK, DYCE and WINTER CLOUD who are pre-eminent sprinters in SA but lacked that knockout punch he used to possess in his glory days.

TOUGH TERRAIN comes in light with Josh Solomons aboard. He produced a career best a month ago when only just getting to THE ABDICATOR over 1000m and the extra 100 meters should give this hold-up sprinter a bit more time to get to the pace pressers. Solomon’s will need to judge it impeccably, however. 

Fellow lightweight ELUSIVE WINTER (52.5kg’s for M. Mjoka’s services) ran on behind TOUGH TERRAIN last time after a sluggish start, so he can get closer with a clean break. Though scoring well when backed on debut a year ago the overall profile of this one-time winner is not as persuasive as some of his more accomplished rivals. 

Much bigger threats are posed by DANCE VARIETY, MUFASA and ICY BLAST. The first-named was only lumbered late by slung-in-at-the-weights, high class filly WINTER CLOUD three weeks ago and a repeat of that sterling effort could be good enough to get the job done. 

MUFASA mixes his form and may be held on some recent clashes. However, his run to THUNDERSTRUCK down this straight course in early January gives him about the same chance as RIO QUERARI, and he must be respected. 

ICY BLAST is speedy and should get a favourable set up racing handy under a light weight. The only other confirmed on- pace runner is MUFASA and if either are gifted a soft lead then they could cause problems for the “swoopers.” 

MR COBBS is one of those deep closers that will try dart through in the final furlong. He’s won high level sprints that way in the distant past but breathing issues have curtailed his winning capacity. He has a few lengths to find on recent collateral form, but on a line through clashes with MUFASA in 2023 may get into the fray at best. 

As noted, this is a hard race to call as not only are the contestants tightly handicapped but there is a query about the genuineness of the early pace. 

Exotic bettors can deal with that confusion by simply casting a wide spread then watching the tactical spectacle unfold in a relaxed mood.  

Win punters may need to look for special clues in the parade and canter past, and, as always, must then demand excellent value about their “chosen one“, as the betting market forms.





– Images by Chase Liebenberg