Richard Fourie has made good on his word that he is “100% committed” to the pursuit of a maiden National Jockeys championship. He is riding like a man possessed and continues to churn out the winners wherever he goes – from his Cape Town base, up the east coast at Fairview and in Kwa-Zulu Natal, as well as on the Highveld.
To put it simply, there are few local race meetings nowadays without a Fourie-ridden winner and that trend shows no sign of abating!
The eight-race card at Hollywoodbets Durbanville on Tuesday 21 November is likely to bring further success for the country’s leading rider, and his supporters ought to cash in on his red-hot form by maximising their potential winnings with a Pick 3 bet late on the card that should yield handsome dividends!
Fourie resumes his partnership with Greg Ennion-trained Major Apollo, who he has ridden in both of the gelding’s two starts at the country course over 1000m, in Race 6. This three-year-old son of Captain Of All caught the eye when running on well to finish third on debut behind William West, with whom he renews rivalry, and confirmed that promise by winning next time out at restricted odds.
Major Apollo was assigned an opening mark of 84 and has to carry 61,5kg from the widest No 7 gate in his first start out the maidens but that is unlikely to prevent him from winning again. He is the runner with the most scope for improvement so could well prove better than rated.
William West had the benefit of six previous runs before shedding his maiden tag and there were 2.25 lengths between himself and an unraced Major Apollo, who is likely to have improved more than that deficit.
The former was also conceding 9kg to last-start conqueror Wordsworth when finishing third in a similar contest last time and is 1.5kg better off now for a 1.35-length beating.
Bonanza, who split those rivals last month when runner-up on his return from a break, is closely matched on that form so also enters the equation.
On a line through William West, however, improving Major Apollo ought to have the measure of them all and, even from the widest starting stall, is good value to continue Fourie’s hot streak.
Vaughan Marshall has his yard in good order, with the stable enjoying a treble at the last midweek meeting at the same venue. That bodes well for the chances of Icy Blast, who Fourie sticks with in Race 7 over 1000m, having piloted this talented son of Erupt to an encouraging third on his seasonal reappearance over this course and distance last month.
As a juvenile, Marshall’s charge finished fourth in the Grade 3 Cape Nursery and fifth in the Grade 1 Gold Medallion as well as fourth in the Grade 2 Umzimkhulu Stake before his eye-catching comeback. On that occasion, he gave 3kg to the highly rated winner October Morn and was beaten just 1.35 lengths, so need only run to that level of form to resume winning ways.
Icy Blast, who will strip fitter this time around, is a one-time winner with a rating of 101 but looks good value to double his tally with a determined Fourie in the irons.
Last-start winner Fort Red has registered three of his seven career successes (to go with a second, a third and a fourth in their eight appearances together) under Fourie and this Mike Stewart-trained galloper is reunited with the title-chasing rider in Race 8 over 1250m, a course and distance over which this son of Elusive Fort has run 11 times for three wins, two seconds, as well as a third and a fourth.
Fort Red took advantage of a favourable inside draw – having started from gate No 11 of 11 and No 11 of 13 in his two previous outings – to beat Masked Vigilante and Jam Jam under Ashton Arries in a similar contest earlier this month which earned him a three-point penalty.
He is, as a result, 1kg worse off with those rivals but with Fourie back in the irons over a trip and at a track he enjoys, he is more than capable of defying the weight turnaround by winning again from stall No 1 to complete Fourie’s Pick 3.