It is all systems go for the 2018 Racing season, which is widely expected to be a corker from start to finish. With the arrival of many classy horses, competition will be very tough, which can only be a positive thing.

The main attraction in this opening meeting is the tenure of the Vocalcom Duchess Of York Cup and eight runners from eight trainers have been entered all in the hope of emulating Ready To Attack. Gujadhur stable achieved an historic exploit in 2017 by winning all four classic races and in Table Bay, this classy sort has all the tools to deliver another classic win for Mauritius’ oldest stable. The likes of Budapest and Ten Gun Salute have been in preparation mode since they landed in Mauritius last year, while there is the welcome sight of Exit Here making his belated debut, after a year’s absence due to injury.

2018 sees a new trainer on the blocks, with Praveen Nagadoo starting his new career. He has entered only Ice Emperor in the season’s opening contest, which will be the first ever race run over 1450 metres – a new distance introduced for this season.

One of the revelations of 2017 was Rob’s Jewel, who visited the winner’s enclosure on four occasions. 2018 is widely expected to be a big season for this son of Argonaut and on Saturday, he is rated as the best shot for Swapneel Rama and Amar Sewdyal’s yard.

 

Race 1 (0-25)

Preference is for SILVER ROCK in the opening contest of the new season. He produced an encouraging showing on his debut at the back end of last season. In good order, he is taken to strike here. Rasta Rebel was narrowly beaten by Spin A Coin in the International meeting, with the beaten margin a mere 0.05 lengths. This was despite racing three wide for most of the trip. He can give the selection a hard time in this. Social Network makes his first start for Amar Sewdyal. He looked in good shape at track work and is entitled to show up. Prince Of Arabia ended a difficult 2017 on a high in the final meeting. He merits consideration in this contest. For the lower placings, Seven Oceans and Sea Pass are two good contenders.

Top Tip: SILVER ROCK

Dangers: Rasta Rebel, Social Network, Prince Of Arabia

 

Race 2 (B.36)

MELSON had to settle for just one win in 2017. This Gilbert Rousset-trained gelding has benefited hugely from the off-season and having been handed the plum draw, he is tipped to earn Weichong Marwing his first win on his return to Mauritius. Pop The Question raced twice at the end of last season, finishing 3rd on both occasions. He has continued to progress and is rated as the main threat to the selection. Studiolo raced just twice in 2017, before injury ended his season. Back to full fitness, he showed up well in his gallops and he should be right in the mix, even in this class. Secret Idea’s two wins have come over the Draper’s Mile, and a third here is a possibility. For the lower placings, Bezamod and Seeking The Dream are solid contenders.

Top Tip: MELSON

Dangers: Pop The Question, Studiolo, Secret Idea

 

Race 3 (B.41)

FRIEND REQUEST is a promising newcomer at Gujadhur stable. He has been well-prepared for his debut, even giving a certain Table Bay a run for his money in training. With Jamie Theriot on board, he can strike at the first time of asking. Maxamore performed consistently throughout his debut season, even winning on one occasion. In this contest, he should go close. Wavebreaker came close to striking on Duke Of York Cup day, before he completed the quartet in his last outing. He has progressed during the off-season and warrants consideration in this. Moonrise Sensation has arrived with a promising reputation and he has not taken long to show his abilities in his trials. He is not prevented from starting his new career on a winning note.

Top Tip: FRIEND REQUEST

Dangers: Maxamore, Wavebreaker, Moonrise Sensation

 

Race 4 (B.46)

It is correct to say that ANSWERINGENESIS could have had more than two wins last season. The majority of his wins in Mauritius have occurred in classic meetings and he is taken to do the same trick here. Apple Pie makes his return after a long absence. He has winning form in this category and even over his short trip, he should do well. Stable mate Rumbullion did not disgrace himself last season. With a very light handicap, he will be a threat in the closing stages. Moi Power looks the most likeliest to complete the quartet.

Top Tip: ANSWERINGENESIS

Dangers: Rumbullion, Apple Pie, Moi Power

 

Race 5 (B.51)

It looks very hard to oppose ROB’S JEWEL in the first of two consecutive 1400 metre contests. He is in the form of his life and will take a lot of beating here. The Right Road is new to Gilbert Rousset’s yard. A promising sort, he has performed well in his exercises and can give the favourite something to think about. The same can be said for his stable companion Steal A March, who ended his debut season with two consecutive wins. Racing For Fun always performs consistently and must not be discounted, especially from the ace, while New Hampshire has joined Amar Sewdyal’s yard and must be watched closely.

Top Tip: ROB’S JEWEL

Dangers: The Right Road, Steal A March, Racing For Fun

 

Race 6 – The Vocalcom Duchess Of York Cup (Group 2 – 1400m)

Numerous horses are capable of taking the honours in the first classic of the season. One of them is definitely Table Bay, who is the highest-rated arrival of the year and hails from a yard that made the headlines in all four classic races last season. Well-trained and drawn in the ace, he is tipped to mount a bold bid. BUDAPEST has been in preparation mode since the end of last season. He has excelled in his trials and he can earn Swapneel Rama his second straight win in this classic race. Ten Gun Salute has come on leaps and bounds since the start of the year. He demonstrated that in his barrier trial and his yard is of the opinion that he can make it. Exit Here was supposed to make his debut in last year’s race, but cruel circumstances meant he did not participate at all throughout the season. He is back to full fitness and having showed complete satisfaction in his workouts, his chances must be respected. Captain Swarovski and Baritone are rated as two interesting outsiders.

Top Tip: BUDAPEST

Dangers: Table Bay, Ten Gun Salute, Exit Here

 

Race 7 (B.31)

MIDNIGHT MAN gets the vote in this penultimate contest. In what was an unfortunate debut season for him, he did show some potential, especially with an eye-catching 3rd in his last start. He looked in good nick in his exercises and can open his account here. The Brass Bell came on strong in the second half of last season, winning once and finishing on the podium in all of his last four races. In top order, he can quickly open his seasonal account here. Gondwana also had a strong end to 2017, getting a win and finishing in the money in each of his previous three starts. He is not without his chances in this. Uncle Jb is new to the yard of Amar Sewdyal. He showed promise in his gallops and his claims must be respected. Indian Tractor has come out very well from the off-season and is not prevented from having a say in this. Al Dangeur is expected to improve in this lower class, while Stock Broker and Saracen King are good place contenders.

Top Tip: MIDNIGHT MAN

Dangers: The Brass Bell, Gondwana, Uncle Jb

 

Race 8 (0-25)

ZODIAC JACK is the one to beat in this final contest. This colt arrived in Mauritius with a rating of 92 and has raced against the likes of Dutch Philip and Tap O’Noth – two horses that have risen up the ranks in South Africa. He is expected to progress as the season moves along and is taken to strike at the first time of asking. New Golden Age was on the podium in his recent attempt and that was in Benchmark 31. In this lower category, he is entitled to do even better with Derreck David on board. Kash Is King showed some improvement in the International meeting. He has benefited from the long break and his claims must be respected. Billy Bojangles had a trying 2017, but he did manage to earn his connections a satisfying win last time out. This Ricky Maingard-trained gelding can make the frame in this. The Judicator is a newcomer at Gujadhur stable, and he looks to have potential. Even if he has been drawn widest of all, it is worth keeping an eye on him.

Top Tip: ZODIAC JACK

Dangers: New Golden Age, Kash Is King, Billy Bojangles