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Say hello to winter, Santa

The Grade 2 Senor Santa Stakes over 1160m and three listed races top the map tomorrow in Turffontein. This year’s edition of the Senor Santa Stakes, running up the straight at Turffontein, looks wide and you could be a winning case for so many of the runners. With the fillies able to claim their gender allowance, they generally come out as the best weighted runners and that can prove to be a determining factor.

Hallo Winter Hallo came to the yard of Johan Janse van Vuuren last year and had adapted well to racing on the Highveld. The daughter of What A Winter won her first two starts for the stable, both over 1000m in Turffontein, then was brought to Cape Town to defeat the best sprinters in the country in the Grade 1 Cape Flying Championship over 1000m in Kenilworth. She certainly didn’t disgrace herself and remained resolute to finish just 3.60 lengths behind Bohica. She will carry 2 kg less this time and will take it on a much weaker field.

She has mainly run more than 1000 meters, but has won more than 1200 meters. In fact, she also finished a 1.25-long second behind Rio Querari in last year’s Grade 2 Diadem Stakes over 1200m run by weight for age. Keagan de Melo is in sparkling form and he is the right jockey to have aboard this five year old mare. Gallic Princess impressively won the Tommy Hotspur Handicap of Grade 3 over 1000m on this course last month and should be in the reckoning.

The full edition of Friday’s Racing Express, as found in The Vanir-exodus, is available here

It is worth mentioning, however, that De Melo rode her the last time and chose Hello Winter Hello. Perhaps consistency can play a big part and that could be in favor of Vaseem, who has been a revelation since he joined Roy Magner’s yard. He has since raced nine times for four wins, three seconds and a third, and many times it was against the same opponent he will face in this event. Strictly speaking, he must be held by both Sweet Future and Mr Flood.

He finished second to these two runners in his last two starts, meeting them both on identical terms. He went 1.20 to Sweet Future and 1.30 to Mr Flood, but he’s so consistent he was able to flip that shape. Last week, for example, during races on the straight in Turffontein, inside draws seemed to yield the most winners.

Vaseem jumps from barrier No. 1 and that gives him an edge over his two rivals. He also has the services of jockey Muzi Yeni, who has ridden him three times for two wins and that second place behind Sweet Future. Obviously, both Sweet Future and Mr Flood need to get into the reckoning. Mike and Adam Azzietrained Sweet Future is very talented and loves this course. In five races on the Turffontein straight she has a record of two wins and three places, and she will also have Richard Fourie, who is at the top, in the irons.

Mr Flood finally got back into shape last time and is one of the best sprinters on the Highveld at best. Should he repeat his last race form when beating Vaseem, the Lucky Houdalakis trained Pathfork gelding will be highly competitive and should be included in all exotic bets. Sean Tarry has a helpful filly in Under Your Spell, while Smorgasbord is an up-and-coming cub who can provide a surprise. Paul Peter’s load only carries 52kg and has leading jockey Warren Kennedy in the irons.

The meeting will also include the registered Drum Star Handicap over 1800m, where Reunion seems hard to beat, as well as the Derby Trial and Ormond Ferraris Oaks Trial, both over 2000m. Depending on his mood, the Drum Star Handicap seems to be at the mercy of Reunion. His form on the Inside track is better, but then he only ran once on this track where he had an off day. Last time he won a lot easier in a Pinnacle Stakes over 1800m than the 1.80m margin suggests, as the race was in the bag far from home and Kennedy just groomed him to the finish.

Motown Magic was a very impressive winner of its last 2400m start and could be the answer to the 2000m Derby Trial. Trainer Mike de Kock allowed him to participate in the Grade 1 Cape Derby, but took him out in the declaration phase. However, if he judges his charge in that class, he must be the runner to beat in this formation. It’s also another great ride for Kennedy. The Oaks Trial looks a lot more competitive though, but the 8-1 on offer over Corrie Lensleytrained Eternal Life could offer some decent value.

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