In any poker game, two pairs are not really regarded as a solid winning hand. A full house, however, is hard to beat, and that is exactly what trainer Stuart Pettigrew will be trying to hold at the Vaal on Thursday 12 May.
The Randjesfontein-based trainer has five runners on the eight-race card – two each in races 6 and 7, and one in the last.
Stuart’s first pair, Expressfromtheus and Bold Fortune, contest a Pinnacle Stakes over 1800m.
The average merit rating of the seven contestants in this Class A event is 100 on the dot.
Bold Fortune, with a rating of 105, is the best weighted of the lot. To further increase his winning chances, Pettigrew has tasked apprentice jockey Siyanda Sosibo with the ride. As he claims 4kg, this Flower Alley filly will carry only 50,5kg on her back.
Bold Fortune was on a streak of nine consecutive top-four finishes, including five victories, before her last outing in the Empress Club Stakes when finishing 7.75-lengths downfield.
On that occasion, however, she had the worst of the draws (13 from 13) and must be forgiven a rather lacklustre performance.
Expressfromtheus is overdue a seventh career victory. This five-year-old gelding has seen his Merit Rating drop down to 105 from a peak of 122 and should be highly competitive once again with this more realistic rating.
Considering that his last win was 376 days ago, it does seem that at 122 he was rated not to win.
Be that as it may, Pettigrew’s first pair should not see him fold too early in the game.
His second pair – Gilded Butterfly and Quiet Rebellion – go head to head in a FM70 Handicap over 1500m. Both three-year-old fillies are above average and could get into the fight for top honours.
Gilded Butterfly has never finished outside the top three and has drawn pole position.
Quiet Rebellion drops down to the shortest distance of her short career and could surprise by making a pillar-to-post move.
Bella Rosa could complete Pettigrew’s full house in Race 8, a Classified Stakes over 1800m.
Jumping from gate 12 won’t be problem for this Count Dubois mare as she likes to come from behind.
The fact that the big boys on the Highveld, trainers Paul Peter, Mike de Kock and Sean Tarry have obviously shifted their attention to the KZN season, gives Pettigrew the perfect opportunity to go all in and take the pot at the Vaal.