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Vodacom Durban July Gallops
Published: 22 June 2017

Vodacom Durban July Gallops
The #vdj2017 Gallops took place this morning at Greyville and there were some eye-catching workouts to be seen...

The Vodacom Durban July gallops were held this morning at Greyville and there were some eye-catching workouts amid the others who did not give much away.

The favourite Edict Of Nantes was his usual relaxed self and strode out well before being geared down in the final stages. Last year’s winner The Conglomerate has enjoyed a fine preparation and put up eye-catching work on the polytrack. He is carrying just 0,5kg more than last year and is drawn three as opposed to 18, so looks to have a good each-way chance.

Edict Of Nantes (Nkosi Hlophe)

Edict Of Nantes (Nkosi Hlophe)

Elusive Silva looked very well in himself and put in a satisfactory gallop without being asked to a lot. It’s My Turn has clearly strengthened up as a four-year-old and impressed in his work out. Ten Gun Salute caught the eye and trainer Duncan Howells referred to his gallop as “exceptional”. He is clearly bullish about a horse who has only been “his true self” since gelding.

Black Arthur strode out well in a fast workout and ran all the way to the line. Nightingale, one of two fillies in the race, put up one of the most impressive workouts. She glided over the turf and was stretching out well. The other filly Safe Harbour galloped with the second favourite Al Sahem at Randjesfontein and analyst Kevin Shea, whose two July wins as a jockey were both on fillies, rated her gallop as the best of the lot. Al Sahem did nothing wrong either.

Marinaresco (Nkosi Hlophe)

Marinaresco (Nkosi Hlophe)

Marinaresco strode out well without blinkers, but will have the normal headgear on in the race. Brazuca put in one of the best gallops at Greyville and strode out beautifully. Sansui Summer Cup winner Master Sabina also threw out his leading leg noticeably well.

French Navy hated the blinkers in his last start and refused to gallop after being hit in the eye by a clod, but both trainer Sean Tarry and jockey Lyle Hewitson were pleased with his gallop and he will be a dark horse off a merit rating of 110, having raced off a 113 and a 115 in his two previous attempts when beaten three lengths and 3,9 lengths respectively.

Krambambuli has received a lot of betting support and has been doing very well at Summerveld, so was not asked to do a lot yesterday, but looked very well in himself. Saratoga Dancer never shows a lot in work and had his head twisted to the side down the straight, but trainer Howells explained this was due to him already being a fit horse and he was held back in this workout.

Mr Winsome has recovered well from his Track and Ball Derby win on Sunday and this progressive horse only did a 400m workout on the poly. Pagoda was green in his first outing at Greyville in the Daily News 2000, so should improve and he did nothing wrong in his workout. Tilbury Fort is a courageous sort who will give of his best. He did nothing wrong in his gallop, but he is up against it at the weights.

The two reserve runners Horizon and Nebula both put up good gallops.

By David Thiselton

Boerie and Beer at Greyville
Published: 21 June 2017

Boerie and Beer at Greyville
Purchase a tasty Boerie Roll for R35 and receive a voucher for a complimentary SAB Beer at Greyville Racecourse on Sunday [June 25]...

Greyville’s Lightning Shot bar and the ever popular BraaiZone have joined forces to offer a special “Beer and Boerie” promotion at the KZN Breeders Raceday on Sunday 25 June. The 9-race programme is headed by the Million Mile as well as the Final of the recently introduced “Levelling the Playing Fields” series.

For just R35, patrons will be able to purchase a tasty Boerie Roll, with sauces of your choice, from the BraaiZone and receive a voucher for a complimentary SAB Beer from the Lightning Shot Bar. As Gold Circle is encouraging families to join us on Sunday 25th June for the KZN Breeders’ race day at Greyville, the option of a Beer can be exchanged for a cool drink, also available from the Lightning Shot Bar.

Younger racing fans will be well catered for at the KidsZone and the KZN Breeders are giving away prizes throughout the afternoon. Entrance to the race course is free and all are welcome.

Classy Bela-Bela raring to go
Published: 22 June 2017

Classy Bela-Bela raring to go
Bela-Bela looks the one to beat from a plum draw of five in the Grade 1 Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes...

The Grade 1 Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes is rightfully the most prestigious of the supporting features on Vodacom Durban July card and this year’s renewal is one of the classiest  seen in recent times.

Just Sensual (Liesl King)

Just Sensual (Liesl King)

The champion grey filly Bela-Bela proved in the Grade 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge that a mile is her best trip. She had to be steadied at the back of the field for a stride or two in that race when encountering some interference, yet still managed to run on strongly from right at the back for an excellent third. She looks the one to beat from a plum draw of five.

Three-year-old Just Sensual has enjoyed an outstanding season, winning the Grade 1 WSB Cape Fillies Guineas, finishing second in the Grade 1 SA Fillies Sprint and winning both the Grade 2 Tibouchina and Grade 3 Prix du Cap. Her form suggests she is at her best over 1400m, but Anton Marcus said after her Tibouchina win he had actually been disappointed as he had expected her to win easier, while trainer Joey Ramsden reckoned in the winning interview her best trip was a mile. She has a fair draw of seven.

Bela-Bela’s three-year-old Justin Snaith-trained stablemate Gimme Six won the Grade 2 Daisy Fillies Guineas in fine style and was arguably unlucky to have not won the Grade 1 Woolavington 2000.  She has drawn in pole position so her relaxed style plus exceptional turn of foot should carry her close.

Another big runner from the Snaith yard will be the highly regarded Star Express, who finished a narrow second in  the Grade 1 Klawervlei Majorca Stakes over 1600m to the July entry Nightingale. She then ran just 1,3 lengths behind Just Sensual in the Tibouchina over too sharp a trip. She will be 1,5kg worse off with Just Sensual in the Garden Province, but will relish the step up in trip and will be spot on as the Tibouchina was chiefly seen as a preparation outing. On the downside, she has a tough draw of 13.

Justin Snaith & Bela-Bela (Tracy Robertson)

Justin Snaith & Bela-Bela (Tracy Robertson)

Fort Ember was impressive when winning the Grade 3 Flamboyant Stakes over course and distance in January and her Tibouchina run can probably have a line drawn through it as she was hampered when trying to weave her way through traffic. She is classy and could be the dark horse, although she has a tricky draw of ten.

Bella Sonata has gone close to Nother Russia in her last two starts over this trip, including in the Grade 1 Empress Club Stakes, and the latter then proved how good she was by running a 0,2 length third in the Grade 1 Premier’s Champions Challenge behind Deo Juvente and Legal Eagle. Bella Sonata has a fine turn of foot so should love this course and distance.

Polyphonic is held on Empress Club form with Bella Sonata, but she subsequently won a Grade 2 over 2000m well. Piere Strydom sticks with her and she could be upset material as a highly regarded, but problematic sort who seems to have come to hand.

Chevauchee has always been highly regarded too and can’t be ignored, as this might well be her best trip. She comes from the unstoppable yard of Brett Crawford.

Her stablemate Louisiana impressed recently over course and distance is another outsider to consider. Bi-Pot and Oriental Oak have both caught the eye as long-striding, classy sorts during the Triple Tiara races in Jo’burg. She’s A Giver has class but would prefer a touch shorter, while reserve runner Captain Gambler would prefer further. Frosty Friday is a classy sort who ran well in the Tibouchina in her second run after a break of over a year. Kilauea looks held by Bella Sonata but will make her presence felt. This will be a race to savour.

By David Thiselton

50 years since Sea Cottage July win
Published: 22 June 2017

50 years since Sea Cottage July win
This year's Vodacom Durban July marks the 50th year anniversary of Sea Cottage's dead-heat with Jollify in the 1967 Durban July...

July Fever is well and truly kicking in and the public will start finalising their selections after the Vodacom Durban July gallops on Thursday. However, exactly fifty years ago one horse was dominating the headlines as well as the family thoughts in the household of record breaking trainer Syd Laird.

Syd’s son Alec does not have many recollections of Sea Cottage’s famous dead-heat with Jollify in 1967, but does recall his father became increasingly difficult to live with in the two or three weeks approaching any July day.

Only the race could relieve the tension, but in 1967 the agony was prolonged as the judges attempted to separate Sea Cottage and Jollify. In the race Jollify, carrying 100lbs (45.3kg), had sat behind the leader Balaclava and coming off the narrow false rail jockey John Gorton shot him into the lead. Sea Cottage, carrying 127 lbs (57.6kg), had been hooked towards the outside for his run by Robbie Sivewright and still had a mountain to climb. However, the idol of the public had his eyes on the leader, who was towards the inside, and the crowd roared as he wound up into his famous finishing run. It is the natural tendency of a racehorse to hang towards the horse he is chasing, but Sea Cottage first had to get around King Willow and Red Sands who were making their runs down the centre. After he had completed that task there was less than 200 metres left and Sea Cottage began eating up the ground with his enormous stride. However, the disappointment could be heard in commentator Ernie Duffield’s voice when he said, “I think Jollify has held on.” However, the muted crowd were soon rapturous when a dead-heat was announced. The great horse had done it. Sea Cottage still had a bullet lodged in his hindquarters. He had been shot three weeks before the previous year’s July, but still ran in that race and finished a gallant fourth.

Six-year-old Alec was actually on course for the 1967 July and as there was no room in the owners and trainers enclosure during the race, he had to stand on an adjoining wall.

Sea Cottage was the first Summerveld-trained horse to win the July.

The training centre had been opened at the beginning of that same season. Alec remembers Summerveld being barren back in those days. His mother Marlene planted the trees which now tower over Syd Laird’s former yard, which is now used by Alistair Gordon.

Alec also remembers visitors always wanting to see one particular horse, Sea Cottage.

Sea Cottage (Supplied)

Sea Cottage (Supplied)

Alec has better memories of Syd’s 1971 July winner Mazarin. His father often said, “Sea Cottage was the best I trained but Mazarin was the best three-year-old.” Mazarin’s owners Eric and Fane Tenderini were so confident of victory in 1971 they had booked out a venue in the Edward Hotel for a celebratory party and a massive cake made in Mazarin’s red and white colours awaited the guests. He duly won by a comfortable 3,25 lengths in record time. Mazarin had a downturn in form as a four-year-old, but the Tenderini’s refused Syd permission to apply blinkers. Their reasoning was that in the UK at the time horses who wore blinkers were considered “rogues”, so any potential stallion would never be seen in them.

Syd’s record-breaking seventh July victory was with the great Politician in 1978. Alec’s outstanding memory of that year was when an announcement was made shortly before the start that Welcome Boy had replaced Politician as favourite. Syd nudged Alec and said, “I will have to do something about that” and walked over to put more money on Politician.

The July was a huge part of the Laird household’s lives. Alec viewed winning it as his most important goal after he had taken over the yard when Syd passed away suddenly in 1988.

He only had to wait until 1996, when London News won for owners Laurie and Jean Jaffee. History repeated itself as the Jaffees has also booked out The Edward for a celebratory party.

The Jaffees also booked a venue in one of Hong Kong’s leading hotels, The Peninsula, before London News won the Gr 1 QE II Cup the following year, although Alec believes they likely had a cancellation clause.

Alec’s best chance of winning the July recently has been with last year’s runaway J&B Met winner Smart Call, but she headed overseas instead. However, he still has his eyes very much set on a second July win in the future.

By David Thiselton

Marinaresco gets the perfect draw
Published: 21 June 2017

Marinaresco gets the perfect draw
Trainer Candice Bass-Robinson and jockeys Bernard Fayd'Herbe, Greg Cheyne, Grant van Niekerk and Aldo Domeyer comment after the final field and barrier draw yesterday at Greyville...

Candice Bass-Robinson, who will have her first Durban July runners, was disappointed when she heard that Horizon hadn’t made the cut but she was wearing a broad smile after watching the draw on television at Kenilworth.

“I am very happy with Nightingale (six) and nine is a perfect draw for Marinaresco,”she said. “He has to be given a chance and half to three-quarters the way back is where he needs to be ridden.”

Nine is one of the few draws not to have been successful in the past 16 years but Bernard Fayd’Herbe, drawn three when he dead-heated on Pocket Power in 2008, said: “I have still to study what is around me but I am happy enough with nine – it’s certainly better than ten and upwards.”

Greg Cheyne was also satisfied with Tilbury Fort’s 11 slot, saying: “He will come in one when the reserves come out and I started from ten when I won on Big City Life in 2009.”

Grant van Niekerk, drawn 11 and 17 on close-seconds Smanjemanje and Marinaresco, said of Black Arthur’s eight: “I am very happy. Thank you Justin Snaith!”

Aldo Domeyer, though,was less taken with Krambambuli’s 19, saying: “I was hoping for a good draw. Krambambuli’s going to need everything going his way – but you never know.”

By Michael Clower

#vdj2017 Final Field announced
Published: 20 June 2017

#vdj2017 Final Field announced
The #vdj2017 Final Field and Barrier Draws have been announced, the Gallops take place on Thursday [June 22] at 7am...

VDJ17 Media Header

 

VDJ FF Mj updated
Latest ante-post betting guide for the 2017 Vodacom Durban July to be run at Greyville on Saturday, July 1.

4/1 Edict Of Nantes, 4/1 Al Sahem; 7/1 Its My Turn, 7/1 Black Arthur; 8/1 Elusive Silva; 10/1 Marinaresco; 14/1 Ten Gun Salute, 14/1 Nightingale, 14/1 The Conglomerate; 20/1 Mr Winsome; 30/1 Pagoda, 30/1 Master Sabina, 30/1 Saratoga Dancer, 30/1 Safe Harbour, 33/1 French Navy; 40/1 Tilbury Fort, 40/1 Brazuca,44/1 Krambambuli

Odds courtesy of www.trackandball.co.za and subject to change

Al Sahem draws in pole
Published: 21 June 2017

Al Sahem draws in pole
Second favourite Al Sahem gets the number one draw...

The die is cast and the 18 top thoroughbreds to contest Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event, the R4.25-million, Grade 1 Vodacom Durban July over 2200m at Greyville on July 1, have been announced.

Al Sahem (JC Photographics)

Al Sahem (JC Photographics)

With two reserve runners, the final field together with jockeys and barrier draws was revealed at a special function at Greyville yesterday and considering the recent July Log standings, there were no real surprises although the odd eyebrow might have been raised.

But it was the draw that threw the cat among the pigeons with second favourite Al Sahem drawing the plum gate at one while favourite Edict Of Nantes will have to jump from draw 13. There is little between the two on form them having fought out the finish of the Grade 1 Daily News 2000 and apart from the draw, the Sean Tarry-trained Al Sahem has a 0.5kg weight advantage over his rival.

After his wide draw last year from which he won the race, Joey Ramsden drew three for The Conglomerate and Callan Murray will be flying back from Hong Kong to ride him while third favourite before the final field was announced, Elusive Silva, did not fare as well and will have to break from gate 15.

Black Arthur and Marinaresco will jump from gates eight and nine respectively with Ten Gun Salute at five and the filly Nightingale on his outside.

No jockey has been announced for Summer Cup winner Master Sabina, now with the Justin Snaith stable, but Gavin Larena will fly back from the United Kingdom to ride Brazuca, Callan Murray will return from Hong Kong for the race and Muzi Yeni will make his way back from Mauritius to throw a leg over Ten Gun Salute.

Graeme Hawkins, Gold Circle’s Marketing Executive, announced during the luncheon the exciting tote expectations for the big day including a guaranteed Pick 6 pool of R10-million which is expected to reach R11-million plus and a massive guaranteed Quartet pool on the Vodacom Durban July of R13-million which is expected to reach R15-million.

There will be place payouts on the first six placed horses and the pool for this bet is expected to reach R8-million.

By Richard McMillan

Horizon misses out
Published: 21 June 2017

Horizon misses out
Horizon not making the cut in the Final 18 selected for the Gr 1 Vodacom Durban July has surely left some disgruntled...

In the end the Vodacom Durban July final field selection panellists had a fairly straight forward task, although there might still be one or two grumbles from disappointed connections and punters.

Daily News third-placed Horizon being made reserve and the Gr 3 Jubilee winner Coral Fever also not making the final 18 were the only decisions which could be considered contentious.

Horizon (Liesl King)

Horizon (Liesl King)

However, Horizon had little chance of winning the race on paper on known form with Edict Of Nantes and Al Sahem and his trainer Candice Bass-Robinson had already spoken of the Grade 1 Champions Cup being a more suitable race for him, so the connections are unlikely to be too upset.

Coral Fever won the Jubilee off a merit rating of 89 and beat a horse who was 0.5kg under sufferance, so it was not difficult to punch holes in that form.

The favourite Edict Of Nantes drew barrier position 13.

His nearest market rival Al Sahem received a rousing cheer when he drew pole position, but it is questionable whether this is a good draw these days. There have been a few slow run Julys recently, so being handy has become preferable and a horse drawn in pole might have to be used up to a certain extent to hold position.

Piere Strydom’s last two July wins have been on horses drawn 20, so he is unlikely to be too unhappy about his mount It’s My Turn’s draw of 17.

Last year’s winner The Conglomerate drew low in three. Trainer Joey Ramsden has made a habit of landing outside draws in the July and when his turn came there were only two numbers left for The Conglomerate, three and twenty. On this occasion he phoned Mayfair Speculators Racing manager Derek Brugman for help and between them, after much deliberation, they got the draw they probably preferred.

Last year’s runner up Marinaresco was the first horse to be drawn and his part-owner Marsh Shirtliff drew nine, a lot better than his draw of 17 last year.

However, he has drifted out to 10/1 in the betting and two horses above him in the market, Elusive Silva and Black Arthur, drew a wide 15 and a favourable eight respectively.

Durban couple Roy and Gladys Meaker had their first July runner way back in the 1970 and Gladys drew barrier ten for their supplementary entry this year, Mr Winsome.

By David Thiselton

July post-draw comments
Published: 20 June 2017

July post-draw comments
What the connections of 2017 Vodacom Durban July runners had to say following the draw ceremony at Greyville racecourse this afternoon...

What the connections had to say after the 2017 Vodacom Durban July draw:

[1] MARINARESCO

Assistance trainer Robert Fayd’Herbe: Marinaresco is doing well at home, his work has been good and all is very much on song,” said Fayd’Herbe, Candice Bass- Robinson’s KZN assistant.

Trainer Candice Bass-Robinson: “Nine is a perfect draw for Marinaresco. He has to be given a chance and half to three-quarters the way back is where he needs to be ridden.”

Jockey Bernard Fayd’Herbe: “I have still to study what is around me but I am happy enough with nine – it’s certainly better than ten and upwards.”

[2] FRENCH NAVY – comments to follow

[3] MASTER SABINA

Trainer Justin Snaith: Doing well. As a two-time Summer Cup winner I think he is well weighted on 57.5kg. He’ll run his race. Don’t worry about the draw. All can change in a matter of seconds.

[4] BRAZUCA – comments to follow

[5] KRAMBAMBULI

Trainer Justin Snaith: Has not come off the bit in his last two wins. I know it was against weaker but he has done nothing wrong. It will not be easy at the weights and he will need a pace. I think he will tuck in at the back of the field to save energy and look for a strong finish.

[6] SARATOGA DANCER

Trainer Duncan Howells: His last run was a bit disappointing but all that is now behind him. His work is very good and is back to his normal, honest self.

[7] THE CONGLOMERATE

Trainer Joey Ramsden: I was very happy with his last run. He ran a good race without hammering him. He’s in good order. Anton (Marcus) thought about riding him but eventually stuck to the other horse (Edict Of Nantes).

[8] IT’S MY TURN

Trainer Justin Snaith: Nicely in (at the weights). I purposely missed the Gold Challenge because we didn’t want any more penalties. He needed the Betting Word 1900 badly but is doing good work at home. His biggest asset is Piere Strydom. He’s the right guy for a big race.

[9] TEN GUN SALUTE

Trainer Duncan Howells: Has come through the Betting World 1900 very well and has recovered from his back problem. He is doing very well.

[10] NIGHTINGALE

Assistance trainer Robert Fayd’Herbe: “I am very happy with Nightingale. She is doing very well at home and has had a nice prep. She is coming well at the right time.

[11] BLACK ARTHUR

Trainer Justin Snaith: Have aimed him specifically for the July. He’s the horse to beat. He’s a huge runner off 54.5kg. Horses run for Grant van Niekerk and he can ride him confidently. Of the older horses he’s the right horse. There are lots of big races in the winter season but really this is the race we all want to win and you have to sneak into the race off the best weight that you can.

Jockey Grant van Niekerk: Drawn 11 and 17 on close-seconds Smanjemanje and Marinaresco, said of Black Arthur’s eight draw:  “I am very happy. Thank you Justin Snaith!”

[12] EDICT OF NANTES

Trainer Brett Crawford: My stable is in top form at the moment and I am very happy with my horses. Edict has come through his last run like he never had a run – he is very well.

[13] AL SAHEM – comments to follow

[14] MR WINSOME

Trainer Dean Kannemeyer: I’m very happy with his 1900 performance. That’s what made me think of supplementing him for the July. He is well weighted and is a tough, sound and consistent horse. I won this race two years ago with Power King off a similar weight so I don’t think that he’s without a chance.

[15] ELUSIVE SILVA

Trainer Justin Snaith: He’s beautifully weighted and is a 2200m plus horse. He missed the Cape summer because of injury and off 53kg he is a huge runner. All my horses are well in at the weights.

[16] PAGODA

Trainer Geoff Woodruff: Was all at sea at Greyville when having his first run here but is bound to improve from the outing. Off a low weight should run well with Al Sahem – if he (Al Sahem) has a chance, so should Pagoda.

[17] TILBURY FORT

Jockey Greg Cheyne: Was satisfied with Tilbury Fort’s 11 slot, saying: “He will come in one when the reserves come out and I started from ten when I won on Big City Life in 2009.”

[18] SAFE HARBOUR – comments to follow

[19 – Reserve] HORIZON

Assistance trainer Robert Fayd’Herbe: Doing well, had three runs here in KZN – he is fit and well and all is going well with him. Hopefully he gets in, if he does, he will be a big runner at the weights.

[20 – Reserve] NEBULA

Trainer Brett Crawford: Is fit and well but unlikely to run. Not sure where we go from here. We still have to decide.

July anniversary for Roberts
Published: 20 June 2017

July anniversary for Roberts
This year's Vodacom Durban July marks the 20th anniversary of Michael Roberts' memorable July win with a chance ride on Super Quality in 1997...

Michael “Muis” Roberts is regarded by many as South Africa’s greatest ever jockey, yet at one stage he had resigned himself to forever being winless in his home country’s biggest race, the Vodacom Durban July.

Roberts was riding full time in the U.K, so the best July rides were usually booked, and the July also coincided with the Gr 1 Coral Eclipse which he often rode in.

His wife Verna used to brush over the missing July jigsaw piece by pointing out the Epsom Derby was the greatest race in the world and in his circumstances he would have a fair chance of winning that.

However, the July blank remained a sore point.

He said it had never gone as far as causing sleepless nights, but admitted, “What used to hurt me was when I would go to the cattle shows (Roberts owned a cattle farm) and the farmers who knew nothing about racing used to say to me ‘But you have never won the July’. The championships I had won meant nothing to them.”

Roberts won eleven South African championships before his 17 year stint in the UK, where in 1992 he became only the sixth non-British or Irish jockey to have won the British Flat Jockey Championship.

One of Roberts’ biggest July disappointments was in 1975 on Sledgehammer, whom he regards as one of the best he ever rode in South Africa. In the 1970s the Queen’s Plate was run in mid to late-February and in retrospect Roberts wondered whether horses like Sledgehammer, who had endured arduous campaigns during the Cape Summer season, were quite ready for the July.

He added, “I also thought I had a chance on Majestic Crown (fourth in 1976).”

Then in 1979 he landed a plum ride on the brilliant three-year-old Bold Tropic. Durban readers woke up on the morning of the race to the front page headline, “Muis sleeps as July fever soars” which summed up both the importance of the race and just how idolised Roberts was. However, he could only manage fifth place and Roberts recalled, “I think he was tired by the time of the July.”

Roberts’ best finish in that era came on the 1981 runner up French Mustard, who was a pick up ride after his original mount was scratched.

In 1987, now riding full-time in Britain, Roberts bumped into prolific South African owner Laurie Jaffee at Royal Ascot. Jaffee believed he would win the July that year with Bush Telegraph and offered Roberts the ride as the horse’s regular rider Garth Puller was going to battle to make the weight. However, Roberts could never have considered abandoning the great horse Mtoto. Bush Telegraph duly won the July, while Roberts steered Mtoto to two successive Coral Eclipse victories.

Then in 1997 Roberts’ agent told him at the races one Saturday that South African trainer David Ferraris had phoned and offered him a July ride on a horse called North By Northwest. After the races Roberts gathered this horse had won the Gr 1 Daily News and was the ruling July favourite.

“We were excited,” he recalled.

Super Quality and Michael Roberts

Super Quality and Michael Roberts

Roberts phoned Ferraris the next day on a Sunday morning. However, there was bad news. He was informed that stable jockey Weichong Marwing had changed his mind and had opted for North By Northwest. Roberts recalled the immediate disappointment. Ferraris then offered him the ride on his other runner Super Quality, whom he described as a “game little bugger”, but he added he would understand if he did not want to make the journey. However, Roberts did not have any Coral Eclipse commitments and always liked to visit his farm in the Karkloof in the KZN midlands, so he accepted.

He recalled the big day, “The worst part was when I was in the parade ring. I saw this tiny little horse walking in. Then I got on him and I couldn’t believe how small he was. I thought to myself, oh no, how embarrassing, journeying all this way to ride this horse. I asked the groom if he liked him and he replied, ‘No I like North By Northwest, he is a very nice horse.’ So my mood was down. But, then he went down to the start like an absolute bomb. I pulled him up at the 2400m mark and Garth was alongside and I remember telling him how good the horse had felt. David had only given me one bit of advice, which was not to bring him through horses, so to try and bring him to the outside.”

Roberts recalled having a rough passage in the early part of the race. “I remember screaming at Garth on my outside to give me some room because I thought I was going to go over the fence. But, after rounding the Drill Hall he was absolutely cantering. It was the first time I had travelled that hard in the July, you were usually starting to come off the bridle at that stage. And then as we were turning for home a big gap opened to my left. I was able to switch to the outside and the rest is history. I remember thinking how often a July leader is caught in the closing stages, but fortunately it did not happen.”

Roberts shed tears of emotion in the winner’s enclosure and recalled, “I couldn’t talk.”

Later, he bought a bottle of champagne for his weighing room colleagues and remembered having a fantastic party in “the middle” (known these days as “tent town”).

He was inundated with well wishes from all over the country and a TV sports channel also had an interview with him at the airport before he flew back to England the following day.

Roberts concluded, “It was the pinnacle moment of my career in South Africa.”

By David Thiselton

Bumper pools for July Day
Published: 20 June 2017

Bumper pools for July Day
The announcement of the 18 runners and two reserves and the draw for barrier positions can be viewed live on DSTV Tellytrack channel 239 at around 1pm...

It’s D-Day for many of the borderline cases when the final field for this year’s R4.25 million Vodacom Durban July are announced at a function at Greyville Racecourse today. The announcement of the 18 runners and two reserves and the draw for barrier positions can be viewed live on DSTV Tellytrack channel 239 starting at around 1pm.

Thursday morning will see the traditional July gallops taking place at Greyville where all 20 of the July runners will be in action for the public to have one final view of their fancies before the big race on Saturday, July 1.

The gallops start at 7pm sharp and can also be viewed live on Tellytrack while on-course patrons will be treated to the traditional hot coffee and Chelsea buns.

Officials are predicting mega exotic bet pools on the day and punters who find the right combinations should be rewarded with decent returns. The Pick 6 pool is a guaranteed R10 million but expected to climb well beyond that, while the Quartet pool on the Vodacom Durban July is a guaranteed R13 million with an estimated pool of R15 million plus.

The win pool on the main race is expected to top R10 million while the tote will pay out on the first six placed horses with the expected pool to reach well over R8 million.

With a R100 000 quartet carry-over on the first race of the 12-race card, punters can get off to a rollicking start with the pool expected to reach R1 million.

The racecard will be on sale from Thursday at all TABgold and Track&Ball outlets with tote betting on the meeting opening on Monday, June 26, giving punters a full week to sort out their bets before the big day.

By Andrew Harrison

Mr Winsome stakes his claim
Published: 19 June 2017

Mr Winsome stakes his claim
Mr Winsome gets the better of Sun On Africa in the Gr3 Track & Ball Derby at Scottsville yesterday...

Supplementary entry for the Vodacom Durban July, Mr Winsome, duly landed the odds in the Gr3 Track & Ball Derby at Scottsville yesterday but made heavy weather of beating Sun On Africa. The two drew well clear of the opposition over the final two furlongs but it was only inside the last 100m that Mr Winsome finally managed to get the better of Sun On Africa who had clearly had enough at the line.

Sun On Africa (Nkosi Hlophe)

Sun On Africa (Nkosi Hlophe)

The two met at level weights, the runner-up some 7.5kg inferior in the merit ratings, so Mr Winsome’s participation in the July is still very much up in the air. The selection panel tasked to choose the July runners will deliberate tomorrow with the final field to be announced at a function at Greyville on Tuesday.

Earlier July hopefuls Witchcraft and Girl On The Run saw their July tickets up in smoke with the latter only managing fourth and Girl On The Run second in the Gr3 Track & Ball Oaks. The race developed into a dog-fight over the final furlong with the race eventually falling to the Geoff Woodruff-trained Zante who managed to pull clear late under Ian Sturgeon. Zante last season landed the Listed Queen Palm Handicap for Neil Bruss who now plies his trade in the Middle East.

Girl On The Run was game in second but is unlikely to be considered by the July selection panel, the same going for Witchcraft who did well considering that this was only her second run back from a lengthy break, but not well enough.

Joey Ramsden (Nkosi Hlophe)

Joey Ramsden (Nkosi Hlophe)

Joey Ramsden and Anton Marcus landed a double for Mayfair Speculators with their two smart colts Ancestry and Table Bay.

Ancestry is a smart looking son of Oratorio and, although only shedding his maiden, the half-brother to Gr2 winning filly A Womens Way, romped home with plenty of daylight between him and second-placed Texas Sky.

Table Bay made the expected improvement from his pipe-opener in the Gr1 Tsogo Sun Sprint, to run out a comfortable winner of the Track & Ball Pinnacle Stakes from the Brett Crawford runner Winter Prince.

In France on Saturday, apprentice, Mpumelelo ‘Pumie’ Mjoka, won the Longines Future Racing Stars on the prestigious Prix de Diane card at Chantilly.

The Prix Longines Future Racing Stars is designed to showcase the best up and coming young riding talent from across the world and selects hand-picked participants from the world’s top racing schools. The event is open to riders under the age of 25 who have won between 3 and 35 races.

Mjoka won the mile Handicap on the Chantilly polytrack aboard Beaupreau.

Mjoka follows on the success of fellow SA Jockey Academy graduate Franklin Maleking who won the Longines Future Racing Stars in 2013.

By Andrew Harrison

Final Field: KZN Breeders Million Mile
Published: 19 June 2017

Final Field: KZN Breeders Million Mile
Final Field and Draws for the 1600m, R1 Million KZN Breeders Million Mile...

FINAL FIELD - KZN Breeders

Horizon doubtful for the July
Published: 19 June 2017

Horizon doubtful for the July
Trainer Candice Bass-Robinson will decide Horizons Vodacom Durban July fate tomorrow morning...

Horizon, third to Vodacom Durban July favourite Edict Of Nantes in the Daily News, looks set to miss the great race a week on Saturday.

Horizon (Liesl King)

Horizon (Liesl King)

Candice Bass-Robinson said yesterday: “I will decide in the morning but I am leaning towards waiting for the Champions Cup. The July is a tough race and Aldo Domeyer thinks he could be better off in the Champions.”

Domeyer is to switch to Krambambuli for Snaith Racing and Jonathan Snaith yesterday explained the decision to switch Bela-Bela from the July to the Jonsson Workwear Garden Province on the same card.

He said: “If she had been well handicapped Varsfontein would have run her but they felt that carrying 57kg was going to be a tough task for a filly. The three who won the July this century carried comparatively light weights – Ipi Tombe ( 52kg in 2002), Dancer’s Daughter (53kg in 2008) and Igugu (55kg in 2011).”

The stable has four in Saturday’s Highlands Stud Winter Derby but Jonathan said that African Night Sky, winner of both the Winter Guineas and Winter Classic, is expected to be their only runner.

Bernard Fayd’Herbe again rides the gelding and he has also been declared for stable companions A Time To Dream (Ladies Mile), Weston (Winter Oaks) and Miss Katalin (Irridescence).

By Michael Clower

Crawford on a roll
Published: 19 June 2017

Crawford on a roll
After his win in the Post Merchants last Friday, Brett Crawford is now the highest earning trainer this Champions Season...

Brett Crawford’s win in the Gr 2 Post Merchants with Search Party on Friday night at Greyville took his SA Champions Season tally to seven wins and he has earned more than any other trainer during this year’s festival of racing.

Brett Crawford (Liesl King)

Brett Crawford (Liesl King)

Crawford’s total earnings in KZN from the Champions Season’s opening night on May 7 until the end of Friday Night’s Post Merchant’s meeting were R3,171,575. In second place was runaway national trainers championships leader Sean Tarry with seven wins for R2,477,575 and next was Justin Snaith with three wins for R1,367,500. KZN trainers Dennis Drier and Duncan Howells were the other million rand earners with eight wins for R1,219,200 and seven wins for R1,078,450 respectively. Dean Kannemeyer has had the most winners in this period, nine, but is only in ninth place in earnings. Crawford leads the number of black type races won with four, consisting of three Gr 1s and a Gr 2. Snaith has won a Gr 2 and two Gr 3s, Tarry has won two Gr 1s, Joey Ramsden has won a Gr 2 and a Listed race, Drier has won a Gr 1, Paul Matchett has won a Gr 1, Howells has won a Gr 2, Candice Bass-Robinson has won a Gr 2 and Kannemeyer and Gavin van Zyl have each won a Listed event.

The Crawford yard’s 27 Champions Season runs this season have also netted nine places, including three Gr 1 places.

Former Springbok rugby fly-half Lance Sherrell and his mother Delma have worn broad grins for a few weeks as they have watched the Crawford-trained pair Search Party and Gulf Storm run second and fourth respectively in their colours in the Gr 1 Tsogo Sun Sprint and they also own a share in the Crawford’s Gr 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge winner Captain America. The Post Merchants was the cherry on top, although there might well be more to come. It is fitting the Sherrell’s black and white colours are doing well in KZN as all of Lance, his late father Reg and his grandfather Reg Evelyn played rugby for Natal.

Crawford-trained horses commandeer the top three positions in the Champions Season’s highest earnings with Gr 1 Daily News 2000 winner Edict Of Nantes on top with R1,27 million, Captain America second on R637,500 and Gr 1 Woolavington winner Lady Of The House third on R635,000. Search Party is in ninth spot on R447,500.

Another statistic where Crawford is top is the betting profit per runner. For a R1 stake put on all 27 of his runners they would have returned a profit of R41.

Corné Orffer has ridden three of Crawford’s seven winners and deserves plenty of credit for Search Party’s win on Friday night. There was no false rail for the race and this was always going to favour the low draws and the handy to front-running types. Orffer was aware of this and his first winning move was to use Search Party’s early pace from a fair draw of six to claim the rail in front. Orffer extracted a kick out of the four-year-old Captain Al gelding at the top of the straight and this was the second winning move, as it saw him stealing two lengths on the field. The improved four-year-old Captain Al gelding kept going well to hold on by 0,25 lengths for a thoroughly deserved second career Gr 2 victory. The runner up was last year’s Equus Champion Sprinter Talktothestars, who had sat handy on the rail from a draw of two and produced a flying finish with topweight.

He gave the winner 2kg so it was another fine performance by South Africa’s most travelled superstar. The third-placed Amazing Strike was drawn in pole and sat behind Search Party in the running. Fourth-placed Captain’s Causeway was also drawn well in five. The favourite Professor Brian’s chances looked forlorn after Search Party’s telling kick for home. He could only manage sixth, but did run on well and it is too early to tell whether the handicapper has his measure. His five successive wins before this race saw him rising from a 58 to a 91 merit rating.Crawford is the leading Cape trainer on the national log and before yesterday’s racing he was only R110,162.50 behind third-placed Mike de Kock.

By David Thiselton

Winsome in the mix
Published: 19 June 2017

Winsome in the mix
Anthony Delpech rode Mr Winsome to victory in the Track & Ball Derby at Scottsville yesterday...

The Vodacom Durban July selection panellists face an unenviable task today before the naming of the final field tomorrow as the Dean Kannemeyer-trained supplementary entry Mr Winsome threw a spanner in the works by winning the Gr 3 Track and Ball Derby over 2400m at Scottsville.

The four-year-old gelding is a typically improving son of Silvano and had impressed when finishing fastest of all for tie-third in the Betting World 1900.

Anthony Delpech (Liesl King)

Anthony Delpech (Liesl King)

Yesterday, he came from the back again, turning for home third last, and produced a resolute finish under regular pilot Anthony Delpech to wear down the underrated stayer Sun On Africa from the Gareth van Zyl yard and win by 0,5 lengths.

The excellent trainer of stayers Weiho Marwing claimed third place with Let It Rain, who was beaten 4,5 lengths.

Adding impact to Mr Winsome’s claim for a July place is that he will face It’s My Turn on the same weight terms as he did when dead-heating with him in The 1900.

Mr Winsome will provide another July runner for two of South African racing’s most deserving owners, Durban couple Roy and Gladys Meaker, who have been stalwarts of the sport for decades.

Earlier, the Gr 3 Track And Ball Oaks featured two July entries, Girl On The Run and Witchcraft. They ran good races to finish second and fourth respectively, but they would have had to do more to book a July place, considering the comfortable 1,75 length winner, the Geoff Woodruff-trained Zante, is merit rated only 92.

Bela-Bela was a July scratching last week, as she will be targeted at the Gr 1 Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes.

Bela-Bela’s, Orchid Island’s and Captain America’s scratchings have made the panellists tasks easier, because if all the horses on the final log are included in the field then there is still one place left in the top 18.

However, there are three horses who were not on the log whose connections will believe they deserve places. They are Mr Winsome, Coral Fever, who was supplemented after winning the Gr 3 Jubilee Handicap, and Black Arthur, who is 10/1 in the July ante-post betting and his good preparation for the big race was completed by a third place finish in the Gr 3 Cup Trial carrying topweight.

Therefore some of the log incumbents might come under pressure and there will be a lot of jostling amid discussion done by the panellists, who once again will be the envy of nobody.

By David Thiselton

Mr Winsome throws a curve ball
Published: 19 June 2017

Mr Winsome throws a curve ball
Dean Kannemeyer trained Mr Winsome wins the Grade 3 Track & Ball Derby at Scottsville on Sunday...

The impressive win by Mr Winsome in the Grade 3 Track & Ball Derby over 2 400m at Scottsville on Sunday might well have been the performance that secures the Silvano gelding a run in Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event, the R4.25-million Vodacom Durban July, at Greyville in two weeks’ time.

Dean Kannemeyer (Nkosi Hlophe)

Dean Kannemeyer (Nkosi Hlophe)

That will be up to the July Selection Panel to decide and trainer Dean Kannemeyer will have to wait until Tuesday when the final field is announced to know whether he has yet again managed to secure a place for a useful performer in the big race with a handy galloping weight. He has won the premier race three times with well-weighted runners and Mr Winsome will carry 53.5kg on the big day if he gets a run as there will be no penalty for Sunday’s win because the weights had already been announced.

In the race the four-year-old came from near the back of the eight-horse field to win the 2 400m race going away, confirming that he is a classy individual over the middle distance with strong form to back up his big race claims that now shows six wins and five second from 18 starts.

Jockey Anthony Delpech settled the gelding near the back of the field as Helderberg Blue, Let It Rain and Sun On Africa disputed the lead but made his move as they swept into the home straight where he became embroiled in a two-horse battle with Sun On Africa for the lead. Sun On Africa hung out onto Mr Winsome but Warren Kennedy straightened his mount before Mr Winsome gained the upper hand to win comfortably.

Mr Winsome (Nkosi Hlophe)

Mr Winsome (Nkosi Hlophe)

A short while before jockey Ian Sturgeon rode a superb race on the Geoff Woodruff-trained Ideal World mare Zante to win the Grade 3 Track & Ball Oaks. Epona under Anton Marcus had been the favourite but failed to feature as a danger at any time as Zafira made the running from Witchcraft in the early stages.

Sturgeon found himself “a bit too far back” and moved Zante up on the back straight before taking the lead which he held to the line ahead of Girl On The Run and Estimation.

Sunday’s Scottsville meeting followed on the heels of the Post Merchants meeting at Greyville on Friday evening where the Brett Crawford stable continued its run of success in feature events. Crawford had previously won three Grade 1 races in a row – the Daily News 2000, the Woolavington 2000 and the Rising Sun Gold Challenge – and Friday’s Post Merchants win added a little extra cream to the cake.

The four-year-old Captain Al gelding, Search Party, was favourite to win the Grade 2 Post Merchants over 1 200m and duly obliged under stable jockey Corne Orffer who, riding with the greatest confidence, took the four-year-old to the front from the start to dictate the pace and steer him to the finish and into the winner’s enclosure.

Having skipped clear in the straight and looking “home and hosed” 200m out, Orffer was forced to exert additional pressure on his mount in the final stages as top weight Talktothestars came storming up with a challenging run on his outside. It was not quite enough and he had to settle for second place ahead of Amazing Strike and Captain Causeway that filled the minor placings.

By Richard McMillan

Marinaresco all set to go
Published: 14 June 2017

Marinaresco all set to go
Thumbs up for Marinaresco ahead of the Vodacom Durban July...

Marinaresco was yesterday reported in fine fettle and on course for the Vodacom Durban July despite his below-par effort in last Saturday’s Rising Sun Gold Challenge and being lumbered with top weight in the big one.

Marinaresco (Liesl King)

Marinaresco (Liesl King)

The four-year-old started favourite for the Gold Challenge but seemingly failed to pick up and finished with only four of the 15-strong field behind him. Rider Bernard Fayd’Herbe reported to the stipes that he felt something amiss although the consequent veterinary examination failed to reveal anything wrong.

Candice Bass-Robinson said: “There was nothing amiss but I think the pace over a mile was a bit too hard for him and maybe he was racing a little bit too close to it for his liking. He is 100%.”

The stable’s Majorca winner Nightingale, who ran a fine race to take second to Just Sensual in the Tibouchina, could renew rivalry with the winner in the Jonsson Workwear Garden Province but the July now looks more likely. “We are leaning towards that way at the moment,” said her trainer.

However Silver Mountain, who disappointed in the Tibouchina, has been retired. She was a runaway winner of last season’s Cape Fillies Guineas before taking fourth in the colts’ equivalent and second in the CTS Million Dollar.

Mrs Robinson said: “She was very good as a three-year-old but she wasn’t quite the same filly at four. Last Saturday she was travelling pretty well and, I don’t know if she hit a bad patch or what, but she was suddenly not travelling and Piere didn’t persevere with her. There was nothing wrong afterwards.”

Captain America (Liesl King)

Captain America (Liesl King)

The decision of the handicappers to raise Captain America’s merit rating by two points to 118 for his win in the Gold Challenge was responsible for Brett Crawford scratching the gelding from the Vodacom Durban July late on Monday afternoon.

Crawford said: “It meant a further kilo that Captain America would have had to give away to the rest of the field. With his distance limitations, and after discussing the matter with his owners, we decided it would be in the best interests of the horse to wait for the Champions Cup (July 29).

“This is basically a weight-for-age race and so he won’t be giving away heaps of weight. We felt we should scratch him early so that the public is aware of the position.”

The scratching came as a surprise to many, this writer included, but perhaps it shouldn’t have. Crawford told the April 19 edition of this page that a decision would be made after the Gold Challenge on whether Captain America ran in the July or waited for the Champions Cup.

Top weight in the July usually proves too great a cross to bear. Since El Picha in 2000 only Pocket Power, who dead-heated in 2008, has managed the feat.

By Michael Clower

‘Professor’ up to speed
Published: 15 June 2017

‘Professor’ up to speed
Can Professor Brian make it 6 wins from 6 starts in tomorrows Post Merchants at Greyville..?

Professor Brian is unbeaten since being gelded and trainer Joey Ramsden has done a masterful job in keeping the gelding winning and keeping his merit rating in check. The Australian-bred is looking for six wins on the bounce when he lines up in the Gr2 Post Merchants at Greyville tomorrow night and although officially out at the weights he could still be well under the handicapping radar.

Brett Crawford (Nkosi Hlophe)

Brett Crawford (Nkosi Hlophe)

Professor Brian was going nowhere before being gelded and as a result his merit rating had dropped dramatically. So when he did embark on his winning streak it was obviously a mark well below what he was capable off.

Strictly on paper Professor Brian has it all to do at the weights in spite of the handicappers pushing him up the maximum for each win.

Victory on Friday will give the handicappers more leeway in adjusting his rating but it will be too late for the opposition.

Brett Crawford, who saddled Captain America to win the Gr1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge last Saturday, will be two-handed with Search Party and Gulf Storm although the former looks to be the pick. He came in for some quiet market support in the recent Gr1 Tsogo Sun Sprint at Scottsville and only had the winner Bull Valley ahead of him. He has had a steady build-up into the Post Merchants and should be cherry-ripe.

Top weight Talktothestars did not have the best of luck on the Tsogo Sun Sprint, being checked just as he was making his run and losing all momentum. Top rider Bernard Fayd’Herbe will be aboard and with a clear run, could prove more than just dangerous to Professor Brian’s winning run.

Veteran galloper Barbosa has lost none of his zest for racing and was a fine third behind Bull Valley in the Tsogo Sun. He does have a better record down the straight but has a favourable inside draw and can be competitive.

Being a proper handicap, the Post Merchants often dishes up a surprise result and the likes of Gulf Storm, Amazing Strike and Lord Balmoral are others to consider especially if attracting a measure of market support on the day.

There is much at stake for some runners in the Track & Ball Oaks and Track & Ball Derby at Scottsville on Sunday, both Gr3 over 2400m. The names are something of a misnomer as both races are open to all ages but be that as it may, both races are seriously competitive.

With the final field for next month’s Vodacom Durban July to be decided on Monday, either of Witchcraft or Girl On The Run will need to win the Oaks, and win well, if they are to be considered for the July. Witchcraft won this race last year but has only had two outings since, the latest coming nearly a year after her penultimate start, so this may be a tall order. Yellow Wood Handicap winner Girl On The Run has finished runner-up in two starts since returning from a lengthy break and should strip at her peak. She looks the more likely candidate.

Mr Winsome, supplemented for the July by Dean Kannemeyer, is in a similar position in the Derby. He was running on strongly from last when third in the Gr2 Betting World 1900 behind Ten Gun Salute but although his recent form is solid, he will need victory on Sunday if he is to come into the final reckoning. His last two wins have come at Scottsville, the last an exercise canter over the distance, and although he takes on much stronger here, he does look the part.

By Andrew Harrison

Chance to impress panellists
Published: 15 June 2017

Chance to impress panellists
Last gasp opportunity to impress Vodacom Durban July panellists at Scottsville this Sunday...

The Gr 3 Track And Ball Derby and Gr 3 Track And Ball Oaks, both to be run over 2400m at Scottsville on Sunday, provide a last gasp opportunity for horses to impress the Vodacom Durban July final field panellists and these races are open to older horses these days so there are one or two July entries involved.

Mr Winsome (Nkosi Hlophe)

Mr Winsome (Nkosi Hlophe)

In the Derby, the July supplementary entry Mr Winsome is a typically progressive four-year-old son of Silvano and he impressed in the Betting World 1900 when finishing best of all for a two length third, dead-heating with Gr 1 winner It’s My Turn to whom he gave 2kgs. He will receive 2kgs from It’s My Turn in the July, so it will be difficult to leave him out if he wins on Sunday and with Anthony Delpech up from a good draw of four he looks the horse to beat. His only ever outing over this trip was over this course and distance, in his penultimate start, and he cruised in by five lengths. However, he was joint best in at the weights that day with the seven-year-old Serissa, but on Sunday has it a lot tougher.

Captain Splendid impressed when winning the Gr 3 Lonsdale Stirrup Cup over this trip at Greyville and he could follow up as that was only his second start around a right hand turn and he relished it. He was comfortably ahead of Ovidio, who had beaten him in the Gr 2 Cape Stayers over 2800m on Sun Met day.

Ovidio is the joint best weighted horse in Sunday’s race and has some fine staying form in Cape Town. He has to give the rest of the field at least 2kgs but has earned that penalty. He won the Listed Woolavington Handicap over this trip at Kenilworth last October with 62kgs on his back. However, in his last start in the Highland Night Cup over this trip at Greyville he ran well below par and finished more than nine lengths behind the July runner Krambambuli. His previous form behind Krambambuli over 2800m shows that was not his race and if he bounces back to his best he will go close.

Mr O’Neill was beaten two lengths in the Lonsdale and is now 0,5kg worse off with Captain Splendid. However, he was caught wide the whole way in that race, while the winner had the run of the race. He has always been well regarded and has proved why since gelding. He will be a big runner here, especially if he can find cover from a tricky draw.

Helderberg Blue finished an outstanding second in the Gold Cup over 3200m last year and is joint best in at the weights here, so he should go close as his notorious temperament has improved recently.

Witchcraft (Nkosi Hlophe)

Witchcraft (Nkosi Hlophe)

Let It Rain cannot be ignored as he comes from the stable of the expert trainer of stayers, Weiho Marwing. He has good Highveld staying form and is progressive. His merit rating makes him under sufferance with the best rated here, but the Highveld stayers seem to have been treated more leniently than the Cape ones.

Sun On Africa has always struck as a staying type and after finishing third to Krambambuli in the Highland Night Cup he won a good race over 2000m so is going the right way.

Three Balloons has a plum draw but is the second lowest rated runner in the race. He will have to bounce back to his best.

Techno Captain is the lowest rated runner in the race but these staying races often defy the ratings and if he reproduces his best run over course and distance he could earn.

Mr Winsome is chosen to beat his stablemate Mr O’Neill with Captain Splendid third and Helderberg Blue and Let It Rain next best.

In The Oaks, Witchcraft defends her crown but has only had one run this season. However, she remains a July entry so must be in good shape. The other July entry is Girl On The Run and she has never been over this trip before and was caught late after leading over 2000m last time. She is by Silvano out of a Badger Land mare, but her grandam is by Golden Thatch, so there is a stamina question mark. The Centenary has some class and is proven over the trip so she is selected to beat Patchit Up Baby with Girl On The Run, Zafira and Witchcraft next best.

By David Thiselton

Professor Brian in the driving seat
Published: 14 June 2017

Professor Brian in the driving seat
Professor Brian could defy the handicapper and his draw of 12 can be overcome in Fridays Post Merchants at Greyville...

The Gr 2 Post Merchants over 1200m is always one of the most exciting races of the SA Champions Season as the early speed at which sprinters travel can be seen from side on as they rush for the turn at Greyville and the best of them still manage to find another gear in the straight in the charge for home.

Professor Brian (Nkosi Hlophe)

Professor Brian (Nkosi Hlophe)

Professor Brian is unbeaten in five runs as a gelding. He is usually held up and then simply mows the field down. His best assets are his superb turn of foot and big stride. He is officially not well handicapped in this conditions event as he is merit rated 91 and all horses on a 94 merit rating and lower carry 52kg. However, he has been taking giant steps from a lowly starting point of 58 and could defy the handicapper again. His hold up style means the draw of 12 will not be an insurmountable disadvantage.

Seventh Plain, a big long-striding bay gelding, looked something special when winning the Gr 1 Tsogo Sun Gold Medallion as two-year-old over this trip at Scottsville and he followed up by winning the Gr 1 Durban Golden Horseshoe over 1400m.

He disappointed as a three-year-old but caught the eye in no uncertain terms in his second run as a gelding when staying on strongly for a 3,5 length third to London Call over 1100m at Scottsville. He was 1,5kg under sufferance with the winner that day and it was also his first run since returning from Cape Town.

He has landed a plum draw of four and off his 97 merit rating falls halfway between the top and the bottom of his 95-99 merit rated band in the conditions event.

The fillies always have an advantage in these races on paper. Joan Ranger off 101 is near the bottom of the 100 to 104 merit rated band but her 2,5 kg gender allowance gives her a shout over an ideal trip, although her tough draw of 14 will be particularly tough as she is a type who likes to be handy.

Brett Crawford-trained horses can never be ignored these days and the improved Search Party has a chance despite a draw of nine. The weights for the Post Merchants were set before the running of the Gr 1 Tsogo Sun Sprint, where he was runner up but being raised from 106 to 109 has made no difference to his weight for this race as the 58kg band is for 105 to 109 ratings.

His stablemate Gulf Storm, fourth in the Tsogo Sun Sprint, remains on a 106 rating and considering he finished fourth in last year’s Gr 1 weight for age Mercury Sprint over this course and distance he has a shout.

Talktothestars (Nkosi Hlophe)

Talktothestars (Nkosi Hlophe)

Amazing Strike has always been well regarded and has turned the corner so is a runner over a suitable trip from a plum draw.

Barbosa ran a fine third in the Tsogo Sun Sprint and a repeat will see him have a chance as his 104 rating falls at the top of the 56kg band.

Captain’s Causeway’s 104 rating falls at the top of his band and he wasn’t disgraced in the Tsogo Sun Sprint.

Talktothestars was unlucky from a wide draw in the Mercury Sprint last year and now has a plum draw of three, although he has to give the whole field 2kgs and will need a reproduction of his penultimate start in the Computaform Sprint.

Lord Balmoral had some good form in Cape Town but has to bounce back from a disappointing Champions Season pipe opener at Scottsville.

Just As I Said is a speedy sort who has improved and, although his last start suggests the handicapper now has his measure, he is drawn in pole and can’t be ignored.

Redcarpet Captain has always been full of ability and has won his last two, both on the poly over this trip, but he has not raced since last September.

Top Form is course and distance suited but needs to bounce back from a thrashing by Professor Brian on the poly.

Captain Swarovski looks a bit high in the weights and was well beaten by Top Form last time he ran at Greyville, albeit on the poly.

Mr Roy was beaten in a lesser handicap the last time he tried this trip.

By David Thiselton

Will Black Arthur get a July ticket?
Published: 13 June 2017

Will Black Arthur get a July ticket?
Black Arthur will be 'spot on' for the Gr 1 Vodacom Durban July but will he make it into the final field...

Will ante-post 10-1 chance Black Arthur get into the Vodacom Durban July is the question which will be on the lips of many punters throughout this week?

Trainer Justin Snaith confirmed the classy son of Silvano would be “spot on” for the big day. He also spoke about his other three July runners, It’s My Turn, Krambambuli and Elusive Silva, and revealed the decision whether to run Bela-Bela in the July or Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes was still up in the air.

Black Arthur (Nkosi Hlophe)

Black Arthur (Nkosi Hlophe)

Supporters of Black Arthur will be hoping for consistency from the final field selection panellists. In 2014 the panellists found a place for the crack three-year-old Futura, who was near the top of the July betting boards, but who had only managed third in the Cup Trial behind One Cool Dude and Serissa. The Brett Crawford-trained horse went on to become an Equus Horse Of The Year, but by that stage was yet to win a race at Graded or Listed level, although he had won four of his six career starts. Their decision was vindicated when Futura ran third in the July. Last year the panellists found a place for both The Conglomerate and Saratoga Dancer, who had finished third and fourth in the Cup Trial respectively, although the order was reversed after an objection. The decision was once again vindicated as they finished first and fifth in the July respectively.

Black Arthur, in fact, has remarkably similar form to that which The Conglomerate had at this time last year. Both were winners of the Gr 2 Daisy Guineas at Greyville as three-year-olds and both were unlucky to be just out of the placings in the July as three-year-olds. Both then failed to find a place in any of their following Cape Summer season starts and both were consequently given necessary gelding. They then had their first starts as geldings in the Independent On Saturday Drill Hall Stakes where they both stayed on without being a threat. The Conglomerate then crossed the line fourth in the Betting World 1900 and third in the Cup Trial off a merit rating of 101 last year, while Black Arthur, on Saturday, finished third in the Cup Trial off a merit rating of 104. Neither The Conglomerate nor Saratoga Dancer put in the best performance in the Cup Trial of last year, but Black Arthur was the best performer in Saturday’s Cup Trial. He carried topweight and gave 3kg to the winner Elusive Silva, who beat him by 0,55 lengths, and 7kg to the runner up Crowd Pleaser, who beat him by 0,5 lengths.

Jockey Anthony Delpech told Snaith afterwards Black Arthur had just tired slightly in the closing stages, indicating he had only just needed it and would thus be spot on for the July.

Snaith said, “If he does not get in, I hope it is because they have found a good one and not just a horse who has no chance. Black Arthur is proven at Group level, he has had a perfect preparation and just about every punter out there knows he is a horse who can win the race.”

Futura’s inclusion in 2014 was made easier by the scratching of four horses who had been in the top 16 on the final July log, plus the scratching of one of the borderline horses.

Elusive Silva (Nkosi Hlophe)

Elusive Silva (Nkosi Hlophe)

Last year the field also cut up, but The Conglomerate and Saratoga Dancer were still included ahead of the like of Trophy Wife, who had recently won a Gr 2, albeit against her own gender, and narrow Summer Cup runner up and Gr 2 Peninsula Handicap third-placed Deo Juvente, who had admittedly pulled up in his final July preparation run in the Jubilee Handicap.

Meanwhile, Snaith said It’s My Turn had not run in another race after his third in the Betting World 1900 simply in order to protect his handicap mark. Off his current 106 merit rating, It’s My Turn will carry 1kg less weight than the 55kg he carried in last year’s July when finishing fourth as a three-year-old. Also, on Sun Met form It’s My Turn has the beating of Marinaresco at the weights and the latter is four points shorter in the betting than him.

Snaith believed Krambambuli deserved his lofty position on the July log after his places in the Gr 2 Premier Trophy and Gr 2 Peninsula, both over 1800 at Kenilworth, and his wins in the Gr 2 Cape Stayers over 2800m and Highland Night Cup over 2400m. He said this horse had been so well at home there had been no need to give him another run before the July.

He said the decision whether to run Bela-Bela in the July or the Jonsson’s Workwear Garden Province Stakes would be left entirely up to her owners and they would have to make the decision before the final declaration stage next Monday.

Snaith was pleased with Elusive Silva’s win in the Cup Trial, especially as he had lost his footing for a moment at the top of the straight. The latter fact was revealed by jockey Richard Fourie and the yard will keep a close eye on Elusive Silva to make sure the incident caused no ill effects.

Snaith will also run Sergeant Hardy in the Mercury Sprint after his good performance on Saturday and he confirmed the big three-year-old sprinter had “loved” Greyville.

By David Thiselton

Vodacom Durban July Weights
Published: 13 June 2017

Vodacom Durban July Weights
Supplementary Entries and Official Weights for the Gr 1 R4.25million Vodacom Durban July to be run over 2200m at Greyville racecourse on Saturday July 1...

Horse Wt. MR Jockey Trainer
Marinaresco 60 115 …………… Candice Bass-Robinson
Master Sabina 57.5 110 …………… Justin Snaith
French Navy 57.5 110 …………… Sean Tarry
Bela-Bela 57 109 …………… Justin Snaith
Brazuca (AUS) 56.5 108 …………… Johan Janse van Vuuren
Krambambuli 56 107 …………… Justin Snaith
Saratoga Dancer 56 107 C Zackey Duncan Howells
The Conglomerate (AUS) 56 107 …………… Joey Ramsden
It’s My Turn 55.5 106 P Strydom Justin Snaith
Ten Gun Salute (AUS) 55.5 106 M Yeni Duncan Howells
Nightingale 55 105 …………… Candice Bass-Robinson
Black Arthur 54.5 104 G van Niekerk Justin Snaith
Edict Of Nantes 54 107 …………… Brett Crawford
Witchcraft 54 103 …………… Sean Tarry
Al Sahem 53.5 106 …………… Sean Tarry
Liege 53.5 102 …………… Sean Tarry
Banner Hill 53 99 …………… Glen Kotzen
Elusive Silva 53 101 R Fourie Justin Snaith
Horizon 53 100 …………… Candice Bass-Robinson
Macduff (AUS) 53 88 …………… Joey Ramsden
Master Switch 53 100 …………… Geoff Woodruff
Nebula 53 101 …………… Brett Crawford
Pagoda 53 101 …………… Geoff Woodruff
Royal Badge 53 95 …………… Adam Marcus
The Elmo Effect 53 91 …………… Gary Alexander
Tilbury Fort 53 100 …………… Sean Tarry
Girl On The Run 52 98 …………… Johan Janse van Vuuren
Safe Harbour 52 103 …………… Sean Tarry
Trophy Wife 52 99 …………… Sean Tarry

June 20 [Tue] Final Field and Draw: Announcement of the Final Field and Barrier Draws 

June 22 [Thu] Public Gallops:  7am at Greyville Racecourse

2017 Vodacom Durban July ante-post betting guide [as at 1:03pm June 13]:

5/1 Edict Of Nantes; 11/2 Al Sahem; 7/1 It’s My Turn; 15/2 Elusive Silva, Marinaresco, Black Arthur; 14/1 Horizon; 15/1 Ten Gun Salute, The Conglomerate; 20/1 Nightingale; 28/1 Pagoda, Saratoga Dancer; 30/1 Nebula, Krambambuli; 33/1 Coral Fever, Mr Winsome; 35/1 Bela-Bela, Safe Harbour, Master Sabina; 40/1 Tilbury Fort, French Navy; 50/1 Brazuca; 66/1 Master Switch, Liege; 150/1 Trophy Wife; 200/1 Witchcraft, Macduff; 250/1 The Elmo Effect, Girl On The Run, Banner Hill, Royal Badge;

Odds courtesy of www.trackandball.co.za and subject to change

Track & Ball Derby & Oaks Final Field and Draws
Published: 12 June 2017

Track & Ball Derby & Oaks Final Field and Draws
Final Field and Draws for the Gr 3 Track & Ball Derby and Track & Ball Oaks to be run on Sunday June 18...

Track & Ball Derby Final Field and Draws

Track & Ball Oaks Final Field and Draws

Fantastic clashes over 2 400m are set to take place at Scottsville in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday when two competitive fields go to post for the Track & Ball Derby and Track & Ball Oaks, two Grade 3 races that have all the makings of thrilling and close finishes.

The two former three-year-old “classics” have been converted to open weight-for-age races with penalties for graded race performances.

The “Derby” will see Captain Splendid from the Justin Snaith stable bid to follow up his good win in the Lonsdale Stirrup Cup with another graded victory while Dean Kannemeyer will be hoping his Silvano gelding Mr Winsome will make a strong showing to convince the July Selection Panel that his late entry today (Monday) was not without merit and together with his third place in the Betting World 1900, he deserves a place in the final big-race field.

Top stayers Ovidio and Helderberg Blue will take their place with Helderberg Blue hoping to go one better than his second to Captain Splendid in the Lonsdale Stirrup Cup.

Let It Rain, from the Weiho Marwing yard, second in the Caradoc Gold Cup and fourth in the Gold Bowl will make his presence felt and Three Balloons from the Candice Bass-Robinson yard could follow up on his good run in this race last year when he finished third to Cape Speed.

Sean Tarry will return to his scene of triumph where he won the Grade 1 Tsogo Sun Sprint and the Grade 1 SA Fillies Sprint a few weeks ago to try and complete the perfect “Oaks” double with his Kahal filly Witchcraft, also batting for a place in the July, and the country’s doyen of thoroughbred conditioners, Ormond Ferraris, will try to turn the tables on the Geoff Woodruff-trained Spook Express winner Silver Stripe with his Ideal World mare Patchit Up Baby.

Silver Stripe has followed that win up with a third behind Epona from the Joey Ramsden stable in the East Coast Handicap but the large weight turnaround should see Epona in front again and quite possibly spearheading the field when they cross the line.

Both races are competitive and an exciting day of racing in the Capital is on the cards.

By Richard McMillan

Edict Of Nantes in fine fettle
Published: 13 June 2017

Edict Of Nantes in fine fettle
“Edict Of Nantes is also doing well. He is racing fit so all we have to do now is look after him and keep him happy”...

Edict Of Nantes will be kept ticking over until the July gallops in nine days’ time says Brett Crawford.

He said: “Edict Of Nantes is also doing well. He is racing fit so all we have to do now is look after him and keep him happy.”

One Crawford stable star who won’t be in action on July day is Woolavington winner Lady Of The House. “She has done her job and she is going for a rest in the paddock,” said her trainer. “In my opinion she is still a couple of months immature so a break will do her good.”

Edict Of Nantes (Liesl King)

Edict Of Nantes (Liesl King)

Crawford, 45, has had a memorable season and victory in the big one on July 1 would not only fill one of the few gaps in his CV but finally make amends for the 2002 head defeat of Angus in his first season as a trainer.

“That was hard to take because I thought we had won,” he was to recall. “I never even saw Ipi Tombe who came with such a dash that she got up on the line.  People kept saying to me that it was some achievement in my first season but in this game nobody ever remembers who came second!”

Piere Strydom, who rode Angus that day, has been confirmed by Snaith Racing for last year’s Cape Derby winner It’s My Turn. He won last season’s July on The Conglomerate and will be bidding for his fifth success in the historic race.

Grant van Niekerk, beaten a short head on Smanjemanje on his first July ride in 2012 and a close second on Marinaresco 12 months ago, rides Black Arthur while Richard Fourie has been confirmed for Cup Trial winner Elusive Silva. Fourie won the 2014 race for the stable on Legislate.

By Michael Clower

Robinson happy with Marinaresco
Published: 12 June 2017

Robinson happy with Marinaresco
“That said nobody could have beaten Captain America!”...

Marinaresco, one of the early favourites to win the Vodacom Durban July, ran an indifferent race behind Captain America in the Gr1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge at Greyville on Saturday but trainer Candice Robinson confirms that he has pulled up well.

Marinaresco (Liesl King)

Marinaresco (Liesl King)

She said on Sunday morning: “He was fine after the race. I think he just raced too handily. We were trying to get him closer to the pace and they went hard on Saturday so he was always travelling out of his comfort zone. His biggest asset is his turn of foot, but he couldn’t find it because they were travelling so hard. Ideally we would have done better coming off the back. We’ll go back to dropping him in.
“That said nobody could have beaten Captain America!”

Robinson was thrilled with Nightingale’s second to Just Sensual in the Grade 2 Tibouchina Stakes over 1400m: “She ran a cracking race, running wide all the way, so she was unlucky, really.”
She added: “We haven’t really made decisions yet but I’m leaning towards running her in the July. She’s a big filly so she should hold her own quite easily in the rough-and-tumble of the July and she’ll be lightly weighted.”

Robinson also saddled Silver Mountain, but the 61-10 shot finished last. “I don’t know what happened,” she said. “She was travelling quite nicely but before the turn dropped the bit completely and never picked it up. Maybe she got a clod in her eye?

“I think she’s going to retire now. She’s never really grown, she’s the same size as she was as a three-year-old, and the other fillies have matured past her.”

TABNews

No sparks from Jubilee
Published: 12 June 2017

No sparks from Jubilee
Yesterday’s Gr3 Jubilee Handicap at Turffontein failed to serve up any curve balls for the Vodacom Durban July selection panel but did produce an impressive winner in Coral Fever…

The last piece of the Vodacom Durban July pre-race puzzle was played out at Turffontein yesterday in the Gr 3 Jubilee Handicap over 1800m.

The two July entrants in the field, Liege and The Elmo Effect, both failed to make the frame as the second favourite, the Robbie Sage-trained Coral Fever finished like an express train from off the pace to win cosily under Muzi Yeni.

Liege (Nkosi Hlophe)

Liege (Nkosi Hlophe)

Liege and The Elmo Effect might have battled on the current unforgiving ground at Turffontein and their respective connections would have been disappointed.

However, the final field panellists might have breathed a sigh of relief as they already faced an unenviable task.

Coral Fever, a lightly raced four-year-old, started at 5/1 and provided another accolade for his underrated sire Judpot. He was bred by Ascot Stud and has now won four of 12 starts. The 25/1 shot Bankable Teddy bounced back to form by running second and 12/1 hot Hidden Agenda was next best.

In other news, reigning champion trainer Sean Tarry passed the R30 million mark in stakes earning this season at Scottsville last week Wednesday where he scored a double.

He has already smashed his record stakes earnings of R27,999,562, set last season.

The only question left now in the trainer’s championships is whether Tarry can earn double the amount of the runner up.

At present Tarry is on earnings of R30,102,750 and second-placed Justin Snaith is on R16,786,375.

By David Thiselton

July picture clearer after Rising Sun
Published: 12 June 2017

July picture clearer after Rising Sun
Captain America’s win in Saturday’s Rising Sun Gold Challenge has significantly cleared the Vodacom Durban July picture leading up the final field announcement on Tuesday June 20…

Brett Crawford joined Mike de Kock on five Gr 1s for the season, one behind the six of Sean Tarry, when Captain America won the Gr 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge over 1600m at Greyville under his regular pilot Corné Orffer.

This race and the Gr 3 Cup Trial over 1800m, which was won by the Justin Snaith-trained Elusive Silva, made the Vodacom Durban July picture a touch clearer.

However, the panellists who have to choose the final field face an unenviable task.

Corne Orffer (Nkosi Hlophe)

Corne Orffer (Nkosi Hlophe)

Captain America’s two career Gr 1 wins have now both been in weight for age miles. However, his only attempt at the July as a three-year-old colt in 2014 can be ignored as he jumped awkwardly and lost a length and then over raced. As a relaxed six-year-old gelding his headstrong antics are now a thing of the past. In this year’s Sun Met he had to be used up early to find the lead from a wide draw, yet was only caught at the 150m mark. However, he was hardly tiring as he rallied to finish third. Furthermore, it was the fastest run Met since the first of Pocket Power’s Met victories in 2007. Another tick for Captain America’s stamina capacity can be found when viewing his Cape Derby run in 2014, where he over raced throughout but still managed to stay on strongly for second to Legislate. The Conglomerate showed last year that being handy in the July can be an advantage and it is easy to imagine Captain America running a similar race to last year’s winning one. However, against him will be the topweight he will have to carry. He is currently merit rated 116 and might get a point or two for Saturday’s win. The line horse is likely to either be the consistent 1,75 length third-placed Bela-Bela or the 2,5 length fourth-placed Sail South, who proved his Queen’s Plate run was no fluke.  Captain America ran to about a 117 compared to Bela-Bela. However, she was a touch unlucky and that might be taken into account. Compared to Sail South, Captain America ran to about a 118 or 119. However, it might be taken into account that coming from the back at Greyville gave Sail South less time to make up the leeway than he had at Kenilworth, where he was 0,75 lengths behind Captain America in the Queen’s Plate.

Elusive Silva (Nkosi Hlophe)

Elusive Silva (Nkosi Hlophe)

Betting World reacted by chopping Captain America from 33/1 to 14/1. Marinaresco had every chance from a midfield position, but faded tamely when it counted and behind the strong pace he would have preferred to have been further back. He has drifted out to 8-1. Bela-Bela’s running was taken up briefly at a crucial moment at the top of the straight, so her third was an outstanding effort. However, the bookmakers still have her at 25/1 and the reason might be the Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes still being an option for her on the big day. The Conglomerate stayed on under a sympathetic ride and it was a pleasing preparation for the defence of his July crown, where he will have a fine chance at the weights.  Saratoga Dancer was perhaps a bit too handy in a strongly paced race and didn’t find extra in the closing stages. However, he was in 13th place on the log so might be safe. Brazuca was doing his best work late in quite an eye catching preparation and in 11th position on the log should get in. Master Sabina, who as the Summer Cup winner has likely booked his place, was also doing good work late. French Navy has never been one to run well fresh, but his well below par run will have been concerning for his supporters just three weeks away from the big race.

In the Cup Trial Elusive Silva booked his place in the July by quickening well off a slow pace and just pipping the pacemaker Crowd Pleaser. Third-placed Black Arthur will be the biggest headache for the panellists. They will attempt to find a place for him as he is 10/1 in the July betting and has enjoyed a fine preparation. After all, they did find a place for both Futura and Saratoga Dancer in recent years after they had finished third and fourth respectively in the Cup Trial. Also in the Cup Trial Nebula’s chances of making the final field disappeared. He was on the outside looking in on the log. He had the box seat in the running on Saturday, but in a slow-paced race could not match the finishing speed of the first three and ended second last in the nine horse field. The only horse he beat home was Master Switch, who was also on the outside looking in on the log, but he is just not the same horse at Greyville as he is at Turffontein and this was his fourth unplaced run at the Durban course in four starts. Trophy Wife attracted controversy when emitted from the final field last year, but this year there will be no repeat. She lost ground at the start and then swished her tail. She finished well, but the slow pace of the race worked against her and she could only manage sixth place, which won’t be enough to book a place. The long-striding Royal Badge can also be considered unlucky to have encountered a slow pace as he finished strongly from off the pace for fifth, which won’t be enough to persuade the panellists.

Nightingale ran on well for second in the Gr 2 Tibouchina over 1400m to keep her July hopes alive, but Silver Mountain will drop out of contention after being eased out of the race.

By David Thiselton

Edict tops VDJ boards
Published: 12 June 2017

Edict tops VDJ boards
Captain America, Elusive Silva and Nightingale were big movers in the Vodacom Durban July ante-post markets following Saturday’s Rising Sun Racing Carnival at Greyville…

Betting World yesterday slashed Captain America from 33-1 to 14-1 for the Vodacom Durban July as a result of the six-year-old’s convincing win in Saturday’s Rising Sun Gold Challenge.

Stable companion Edict Of Nantes has been shortened from 11-2 to 5-1 clear favourite while Al Sahem (beaten half a length by Edict Of Nantes in the Daily News) remains on 11-2. However Marinaresco, who managed only a disappointing 11th on Saturday, has been marked out from 13-2 to 8-1.

Cup Trial winner Elusive Silva has been cut from 14-1 to 15-2 third favourite and strong-finishing Tibouchina runner-up Nightingale [see replay above] clipped from 45-1 to 25-1, the same price as last year’s Durban July winner The Conglomerate (from 18-1) who was sixth in the Gold Challenge.

By Michael Clower

Captain America takes the salute
Published: 11 June 2017

Captain America takes the salute
Trainer Brett Crawford celebrated his third Grade 1 winner in a week with Captain America at Greyville on Saturday [June 10]...

Brett Crawford is having the winter of his life and the dream may not have ended at Greyville yesterday when Captain America powered home in the Gr 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge.

Crawford saddled the winners of both the Gr 1 Daily News 2000 and the Gr 1 Woolavington 2000 last weekend. Captain America’s victory took him to three Gr 1 victories in the space of just two weeks and he has the Vodacom Durban July on the horizon.

Vijay Maharaj & Brett Crawford (Nkosi Hlophe)

Vijay Maharaj & Brett Crawford (Nkosi Hlophe)

Captain America is an accomplished miler and in the absence of his nemesis Legal Eagle, who had his measure in both the Gr1 HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes last term and the Gr1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate in January, he made short work of a high-class field yesterday.

“When he quickens he gets a good couple of lengths on his field,” said regular pilot Corne Orffer. “He’s a very honest horse.”

Always handy from a wide draw, Captain America quickened up the inside rail in a matter of strides and had the race in the bag crossing the subway. Trip To Heaven and Bela-Bela chased hard in the minor placings but the winner was never seriously challenged.

Trip To Heaven, denied in the stewards room last year and a notoriously slow starter, ran true to form missing the break by a good couple of lengths but rattling home for second.

The filly Bela-Bela was also doing her best work late. Justin Snaith was more than happy with the showing of his filly but confirmed that she will not be taking her chances in the Vodacom Durban July. “Garden Province” he said, adding that, “unfortunately we will have to take on Just Sensual,” who an hour earlier had run out a comfortable winner of the Gr2 Tibouchina Stakes. “A pity she’s not in the July,” he added wryly.

Disappointment of the race was favourite Marinaresco who was up with the pace for much of the race but failed to fire and finished with just one behind him.

The result of the Gr3 Cup Trial will have given the July selection panel further headaches although winner Elusive Silva did cement his place in the line-up with a courageous victory over Crowd Pleaser and stable companion Black Arthur.

Captain America (Nkosi Hlophe)

Captain America (Nkosi Hlophe)

A touch worrying was the way Elusive Silva had his head turned to the side and drifting in under pressure before being straightened by Richard Fourie but he did enough to get up on the line to collar pacemaker Crowd Pleaser. “He ran green and was hanging in,” commented Snaith. “He’s a big strong horse and was always going to quicken even though they didn’t go a good pace.”

Snaith was batting for third-placed Black Arthur, close to the top of the betting boards for the Vodacom Durban July but until yesterday not certain of a place. “You don’t want to leave it this late,” he said. “But you can’t leave him out.”

Anthony Delpech, aboard Black Arthur, was up-beat. “I thought I was going to win it. He just lacked that little bit at the end. This was his second run after a long lay-off and he ran a great race.”

Crowd Pleaser did everything but win it. Keagan de Melo dictated the pace to a nicety on the instruction of Johan Janse van Vuuren and although giving the winner 4.5kg he was only collared one jump from the line. Master Switch, Nebula and Trophy Wife may well have seen their chances of making the July field out of the window.

Cape Fillies Guineas winner Just Sensual sharpened her pencil for the Gr1 Garden Province Stakes with a cracking win in the Gr2 Tibouchina Stakes although Anton Marcus was not altogether impressed with the performance of Joey Ramsden’s filly. “Halfway up the straight I gave her one and she shot away, but having said that I was a little disappointed. I thought that she would win a little easier than that. But she’s ready for the Garden Province. In the end I’m just happy to have a winner.”

Second-placed Nightingale finished best of the rest with Anna Pavlova running on nicely up the inside fence for third.

By Andrew Harrison

Liege aims for July
Published: 9 June 2017

Liege aims for July
Liege will attempt to make it into the Vodacom Durban July lineup at Turffontein on Sunday...

The Vodacom Durban July pointer, the Grade 3 Jubilee Handicap over 1800m, heads an eight race card on Turffontein Standside on Sunday.

Sean Terry will attempt to qualify Liege for the big race. He last ran in the Summer Cup, where he stayed on for fourth from a handy position. He looks likely to prefer this slightly shorter trip and is sure to be fit enough. Flying Ice should be cherry ripe to deliver having now had enough time and races to fully acclimatise to the Highveld and over an ideal trip her sustained finish makes her ideally suited to this galloping course. The Elmo Effect has always caught the eye but was always considered to be a stayer until winning an 1800m event in March. That prompted a July entry and he now attempts to qualify from a good draw.

Liege (Nkosi Hlophe)

Liege (Nkosi Hlophe)

Fortissima looks fairly handicapped on her best form and has a plum draw and the class to earn over a trip short of her optimum. She should improve on her last start where she ran in steels. Bankable Teddy can win this race at the weights if reproducing his run behind Liege over 2000m last October, but he does have to bounce back to form. The long-striding Kitty’s Destiny is course and distance suited and should improve in his second run after a layoff. King’s Archer will be stretched by this distance but the going is fast at present and that might help him get home. .

The best bet comes in a Pinnacle Stakes race over 1160m. Rivarine has his second run since returning from Cape Town and considering his speed and class he will be hard to beat over this fast course and distance.

In another Pinnacle Stakes race, for fillies and mares over 1400m, She’s A Giver is best in at the weights and should have come on from her run last weekend when going close against the boys. This is an ideal trip, although Wukkin’ Up runs well fresh and could be a threat.

The first is an intriguing affair as there is little to separate Whorly Whorly, So Var and Alfolk at the weights and they all look to have scope. Rebel’s Champ’s and Like Astair can’t be ignored either.

In race two the first timer Polar Vortex is by Western Winter and is a half-brother to last weekend’s Lonsdale Stirrup Cup winner Captain Splendid. Town Flyer looks the best of the raced horses.  In the third Zerodarkthirty performed well against two decent sorts in his first two starts, but Over Easy could improve and be a threat.

In the next race Shufoog is a speedily-bred Australian-bred and doesn’t face a vintage field.

In the last race Starret City looks to be a progressive type and might still be ahead of the handicapper.

By David Thiselton

Celtic Captain raring to go
Published: 8 June 2017

Celtic Captain raring to go
Celtic Captain is expected to run to his ability this Saturday's Rising Sun Gold Challenge...

Gareth van Zyl said his Gr 3 Cup Trial contestant Celtic Captain had recovered nicely from his 7,25 length ninth in the Gr 1 Premier’s Champions Challenge over 2000m at Turffontein, which was run on May 6, and he expected him to run to his ability on Saturday at Greyville. He believed the four-year-old Captain Al gelding would probably prefer this 1800m trip and hoped he could run a place.

He predicted Celtic Captain would get the decent pace he required with the front-running Crowd Pleaser in the field. Celtic Captain has always struck as one who is full of ability. He does sometimes take a keen hold, but in his last two turf starts, in the Umthombothi Stakes over 2000m at Greyville and in the Champions Challenge, he has settled well after finding cover.

He won the Unthombothi, but was being caught in the closing stages and his good turn of foot will likely be more effective over this slightly shorter trip. He was lowered two points for his Champions Challenge run to 103 and jumps from a tricky draw of six in the nine horse field.

Celtic Captain (Nkosi Hlophe)

Celtic Captain (Nkosi Hlophe)

Van Zyl scratched Celtic Captain from the Vodacom Durban July at first declarations and said he believed he was not quite good enough.

Van Zyl mentioned Trojan Harbour as one of his best runners on the day. This impressive Australian-bred specimen is a bay colt by Harbour Watch out of the Encosta De Lago mare Salma. Harbour Watch was unbeaten in three starts in England, including winning the Gr 2 Richmond Stakes for two-year-old males over six furlongs at Goodwood. No horse got within 2,25 lengths of him. Salma is a half-sister to Big Time (Danewin), who won four times from 1600m to 1900m including a Listed event.

Therefore, on pedigree Trojan Harbour should stay the 1400m of Saturday’s Listed Gatecrasher Stakes. Third time out he ran on well to win over 1000m at Greyville by two lengths going away and displayed a long elastic-like action. Van Zyl cited one of KZN’s most talked about horses, the Alistair Gordon-trained Monks Hood, as being “hard to beat”. However, an interesting collateral formline emerged on Wednesday.

Monks Hood’s 7,5 length runner up  Tom Collins was beaten 9,7 lengths by Concealed Secret over 1200m and the latter was the two length runner up to Trojan Harbour. That puts Trojan harbour ahead of Querari colt Monks Hood, but that is purely on paper as the latter was very impressive in his 1200m win at Scottsville and relish the step up in trip on pedigree. The Gatecrasher is a conditions event where there is effectively a 2kg penalty per win and Trojan Harbour gets 2kg from the two-time winners and has to give the maidens 2kg. He jumps from a plum draw of three.

Stable jockey Warren Kennedy rides both Celtic Captain and Trojan Harbour.

By David Thiselton

‘Predator’ on the hunt for Gold
Published: 8 June 2017

‘Predator’ on the hunt for Gold
New Predator has been backed from 9/1 - 6/1 for the Rising Sun Gold Challenge this Saturday at Greyville...

Captain America, the highest-rated horse on the Vodacom Durban July log, has been a significant mover in the market for Saturday’s Rising Sun Gold Challenge.

New Predator (Nkosi Hlophe)

New Predator (Nkosi Hlophe)

The Brett Crawford six-year-old was a 7-1 chance when World Sports Betting posted its prices on Monday evening but within 24 hours he shortened to 11-2 joint second favourite with Bela-Bela.

New Predator has also been backed for Saturday’s Greyville Grade 1, from 9-1 to 6-1, but Marinaresco remains firm at 5-2 favourite despite being rated half a kilo below Captain America and despite only two horses justifying favouritism in this race in the last ten years – Pocket Power in 2009 and Variety Club in 2012 and 2013.

Joey Ramsden’s Cape Fillies Guineas winner Just Sensual was yesterday installed 18-10 favourite for the Tibouchina Stakes with stable companions Nightingale and Silver Mountain next on 6-1. Black Arthur heads the Cup Trial market at 2-1 with Elusive Silva second favourite at 28-10.

By Michael Clower

It’s Bela-Bela for Snaith
Published: 8 June 2017

It’s Bela-Bela for Snaith
Trainer Justin Snaith runs Bela-Bela against the boys this Saturday at Greyville the Gr 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge...

Justin Snaith believes the Equus champion filly Bela-Bela will have “her best chance” of beating the boys at weight for age Grade 1 level in Saturday’s Grade 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge over 1600m at Greyville.

The brilliant twice Gr 1-winning grey has taken on the boys before in last year’s Vodacom Durban July and this year’s Sun Met and was not at all disgraced, but Snaith is of the firm belief that a mile is her optimum trip. He said she had needed her last run in the Gr 1 SA fillies Sprint over 1200m at Scottsville, where “she found a little bit of trouble”.

Justin Snaith & Bela-Bela (Tracy Robertson)

Justin Snaith & Bela-Bela (Tracy Robertson)

He added, “She is very well, she is spot on, she has a definite shout.”

Bela-Bela is well drawn in barrier four and will be ridden by Anthony Delpech, who partnered her to a Gr 2 Daisy Fillies Guineas/Gr 1 Woolavington 2000 double last season.

Snaith concluded, “It is a rough race and I just hope she gets a clear run.”

Snaith also has Master Sabina in the race and this will be the dual Gr 1 Sansui Summer Cup winner’s first run for the yard. He said he was doing well, but it was on the short side and a pole position draw would not help as he did not have the necessary early pace to hold his position over this trip. Maser Sabina is likely to be running on, but Snaith concluded by saying it would be a valuable preparation outing for the July.

The Snaith yard have an important date in the Grade 3 Cup Trial over 1800m as both Black Arthur and Elusive Silver will need big runs to earn their July berths.

Snaith believed Black Arthur was back to his best having suffered haemoconcentration problems before gelding. He was running on in the Drill Hall over 1400m in his first run as a gelding over too short a trip. Snaith said he was doing very well at home and everything had gone according to plan.

Snaith explained Elusive Silver’s disappointing run in the Gr 2 Betting World 1900 was not at all his race and was due to the rain which caused him to miss important work.

“He could only canter for eight days,” he said.

To heighten the problem the race had then been run in testing going.

“He got a double whammy,” he said.

Bela-Bela (Liesl King)

Bela-Bela (Liesl King)

Elusive Silver had previously been impressive when winning the Listed Sledgehammer over the Cup Trial course and distance. He showed a tremendous turn of foot in that race, which was his first outing since winning the Winter Derby ten months earlier. Snaith said he was in a better place now than he was going into the Sledgehammer.

He added, “He is a very nice horse. He will be good competition for Black Arthur at the weights and it will take a very good horse to beat our two.”

Richard Fourie has already been booked to ride Elusive Silva in the July, while Anthony Delpech “has always been a big fan of Black Arthur’s.” Delpech partnered Black Arthur to win last season’s Gr 2 Canon Guineas and they jump from a good draw of four in the nine horse field on Saturday. Elusive Silva has to jump from the extreme outside draw of nine.

Snaith runs Star Express in the Grade 2 Tibouchina over 1400 metres and said it would be a bit on the short side for her. He said she had pulled up “foot sore” in Johannesburg. However, her feet have now been sorted it out. He expected her to run well and finish in the money, despite it partly being a preparation outing for the Gr 1 Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes. Bernard Fayd’Herbe rides from a good draw of five.

Snaith mentioned Qing as a runner to look out for on the day. She runs in the Beach Beauty Pinnacle Stakes for fillies and mares over 1600m. He had been confident of a good run from her in her SA Champions Season pipe opener, but said she had been hit by a clod and could not see for a few days.

He was also bullish about Sergeant Hardy in the Conubia/Phoenix Sun Durban Dash over 1100m, although did mention his eleven barrier position as being “a bit of a wide draw.” Snaith said the big Captain Al gelding had not liked Scottsville last time in the Tsogo Sun Sprint and also had a difficult task as a three-year-old off a 110 merit rating. He is now comfortably the best in at the weights in this three-year-old event and if he runs well will be aimed at the weight for age Gr 1 Mercury Sprint. Delpech rides him for the third time.

By David Thiselton

VDJ Barometer – June 7
Published: 8 June 2017

VDJ Barometer – June 7
A weekly update from Andrew Harrison focused on events surrounding the Vodacom Durban July, to be run over 2200m at Greyville Racecourse on Saturday July 1...

Last Saturday was a defining moment for many Vodacom Durban July hopefuls as indicated by the latest July log that was issued on Tuesday and it’s another big day at Greyville on Saturday.

Safe Harbour (Liesl King)

Safe Harbour (Liesl King)

Last Saturday, Rocketball and Banner Hill fell by the wayside after disappointing performances in the Gr3 Lonsdale Stirrup Cup. Orchid Island and Safe Harbour, third and fourth respectively in the Gr1 Woolavington 2000, did just enough to keep them in the hunt, although Orchid Island is pretty much assured of a place in the July and at 15 on the log, Safe Harbour also looks relatively safe.

Edict Of Nates and Al Sahem were already shoo-ins but also cemented their place at the top of the ante-post market when first and second respectively in the Gr1 Daily News 2000. Horizon kept his July hopes alive by finishing third but is nineteenth on the log and Pagoda, although down the field in the Daily News, mainly owes his current sixteenth place on the log to his runner-up berth behind Al Sahem in the Gr1 SA Derby.

The balance of the three-year-old hopefuls are pretty much out of the reckoning.

Saturday is the last big day for borderline cases. The Gr3 Cup Trial should prove a fascinating contest with six of the nine runners in the hunt for a July place.

Ten Gun Salute (Nkosi Hlophe)

Ten Gun Salute (Nkosi Hlophe)

Lightly raced, gelded but winless since beating Rabada in the Gr2 Daisy Guineas last season, Black Arthur has always been at cramped odds in the July ante-post market in spite of there being doubts of him even making the field. He is not among the first 25 on the current log so it’s basically win or miss out come Saturday. However, he was running on from a tricky draw in the Drill Hall Stakes so the signs are good.

Stable companion Elusive Silva looked pretty much a certainty for a place after his impressive win in the Sledgehammer but then ran an indifferent race in the Gr2 Betting World 1900. The winner, Ten Gun Salute, came from behind him in the straight but it may have been a case of the winner enjoying the soft ground and Elusive Silva not enjoying the going in his second run after a lengthy break. Currently borderline at twentieth, a hard-fought place may be enough see Elusive Silva edge into the top 18.

Nebula doddled a recent Pinnacle Stakes on the poly but a win is possibly not negotiable. The same goes for Master Switch who, along with Nebula, is currently in the top 25. A win for the filly Trophy Wife is also not negotiable.

Candice Bass-Robinson’s pair of Nightingale and Silver Mountain are both borderline cases. Nightingale is currently eighteenth on the log while Silver Mountain in the last five knocking at the door. It would seem that only a win in the Gr2 Tibouchina Stakes will enhance their chances but they face some tough opposition better suited to the trip so they face an up-hill task. The Gr1 Garden Province on July day could end up a forced option.

Nightingale (Liesl King)

Nightingale (Liesl King)

The Gr1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge is loaded with July entries but all six look relatively safe. Lowest on the log of the six is Saratoga Dancer in thirteenth place. Duncan’s Howells’s runner generally flies under the radar but he finished a close-up fifth in the July last year, a head third in the Drill Hall behind Marinaresco last month, and a forward showing here will all but cement his place.

At Turffontein on Sunday, Liege and The Elmo Effect will be looking to improve their chances in the Gr3 Jubilee Handicap. Liege has slipped out of the top 25 on the log but a win here will give the selectors a headache. The Elmo Effect seemed pretty much out of it after a flat last showing.

In all this is a defining weekend as far as the July field is concerned and come Saturday evening any debate is likely to centre around the last three or four spots in the line-up.

The final field and draws will be announced at a function on Tuesday, June 20.

By Andrew Harrison

Thumbs-up for Crawford runners
Published: 8 June 2017

Thumbs-up for Crawford runners
Captain America should be in prime condition for the Gr 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge at Greyville on Saturday...

High flying trainer Brett Crawford said his Graded feature runners for Saturday at Greyville, Captain America, Sail South, Nebula and Chevauchee, have all been doing very well at Summerveld.

Callie-Jo Bouman and Chante Holloway, two semifinalists in this year’s Miss SA, pose with Sun Met celebrated with GH Mumm hopeful Captain America on the beach.

Callie-Jo Bouman, Chante Holloway & Captain America

Captain America has proven in the past to not need a lot of racing to reach his peak so should be in prime condition for the Gr 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge following his running on 0,4 length fifth in the Gr 2 Drill Hall Stakes over 1400m. He did not jump well in that race either. His best efforts lately have been either from the front or second in the running, but more importantly he settles wherever he is positioned these days, which allows his resolute finish to have its maximum impact. His last four Grade 1 weight for age (wfa) mile appearances have netted a facile win in the Horse Chestnut Stakes at Turffontein in 2015 and three placed runs behind the current Equus Horse Of The Year Legal Eagle. In the last of those runs Captain America finished second in the L’Ormarin’s Queen’s Plate, so on form is the horse to beat on Saturday. However, he does have a tough draw of ten, but Crawford does not believe he needs to lead. Regular rider Corné Orffer rides Captain America.

Gold Challenge contender Sail South has always had talent but has tended to over race. In this year’s Queen’s Plate he was dropped out to last and was duly seen to fight for his head on at least a couple of occasions. It was therefore a phenomenal effort to see him run on for a three length third to Legal Eagle, 0,75 lengths behind Captain America and 0,3 lengths ahead of Saturday’s favourite Marinaresco. In the Drill Hall he was no given the opportunity to fight for his head as he was taken to the front and set a good pace. He was only caught late and finished a 0,45 length sixth. Richard Fourie rides the improved six-year-old Sail From Seattle gelding for the fifth time in succession and they jump from a tricky draw of ten.

Nebula (Nkosi Hlope)

Nebula (Nkosi Hlope)

Nebula will need a big run in the Gr 3 Cup Trial over 1800m to book a Vodacom Durban July berth as he was on the outside looking in on the last July log. He won his KZN pipe opener hands and heels over 1600m on the poly, where he showed a fine turn of foot. The Algoa Cup winner will relish the step up in trip and is drawn in pole with leading jockey Greg Cheyne aboard. Cheyne had a bad fall on this horse in the Calulo Mile at Kenilworth in February. It was neither the horse nor jockey’s fault, but Cheyne was side-lined for three weeks. Nebula will need to improve on his run in the Gr 2 Peninsula over 1800m at Kenilworth in December, where he finished a 3,8 length seventh carrying 55kg and receiving 4kg from the winner. However, the winner was Whisky Baron, who of course went on to win the Sun Met. Furthermore, Nebula’s last start proved you can never write off a Silvano, they just get better and better with age. Silvano’s progeny have also proved themselves to have a liking for Greyville. Nebula himself has had four starts at Greyville, all over 1600m, for two wins, a third and a fourth and the third was in a Listed event.

Chevauchee has always been brimful of talent and races in the Gr 2 Tibouchina over 1400m. The lightly raced four-year-old High Chaparral filly has won two Listed events, over 1200m and 1600m respectively, so the 1400m trip should be right down her alley. Crawford said she had not handled Scottsville in her SA Champions Season pipe-opener in the Gr 3 Poinsettia Stakes so a line can likely be drawn through that unplaced run. The only other time she has finished out of the top three in a ten race career was in this year’s Gr 1 Paddock Stakes over 1800m where she moved up well but then found no extra, so she likely didn’t see out the trip. Before that she gave each of the useful males Fifty Cents and Horizon 3,5kg in the Listed Jet Master Stakes over 1600m at Kenilworth and ran a 1,75 length third behind them. She jumps from a tricky draw of eight in the 14 horse field on Saturday and Cheyne is aboard.

By David Thiselton

Cup Trial key for July hopefuls
Published: 7 June 2017

Cup Trial key for July hopefuls
Prospective July hopefuls still have a chance in the Gr 3 Cup Trial...

The Gr 3 Cup Trial over 1800m is a last gasp opportunity for Vodacom Durban July borderline horses to put up their hands for a berth in the field and this year’s race will be fascinating as six of the nine runners are July entries and they will all need big runs to book their places.

Black Arthur (Nkosi Hlophe)

Black Arthur (Nkosi Hlophe)

Rising Sun in unison with Gold Circle always put on an amazing race day and Greyville is the place to be on Saturday to watch the Cup Trial, the Gr 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge and the Gr 2 Tibouchina Stakes.

The Justin Snaith-trained Black Arthur is the fourth favourite in the July at 10/1 with Betting World, yet is nowhere to be seen on the latest July log, which was released yesterday. He started 10/1 for last year’s July and finished a 2,75 length seventh, but was unlucky as he was hindered by a horse inside of him when making his run on the outside and could have got closer. He subsequently had a haemoconcentration problem and can be forgiven his below par form in the Cape summer. Gelding has solved his issues and he was staying on in the Drill Halls Stakes over 1400m to finish just 2,75 lengths back under Anthony Delpech. He should come on a lot for the run and will relish the step up in trip. He has landed a good draw of four and Delpech, who partnered him to win last season’s Gr 2 Canon Guineas, stays aboard. He has to carry topweight, but it would be no surprise if he turns out to be better than his current 104 merit rating as he has always been highly regarded.

His stablemate Elusive Silva went up to near the top of the boards after his impressive win under Delpech in the Listed Sledgehammer over this course and distance. He is currently a July 13/1 shot, having run a bit of a flat race in the Betting World 1900, although the lack of pace did not suit him there and a gap did not open for him immediately at the top of the straight. He is now in position 20 on the July log and needs a big run, but Delpech looks to have opted for Black Arthur. He could not have got a better replacement in Richard Fourie and off his 99 merit rating he gets 2,5kg from Black Arthur. He does have the widest draw of all to overcome and will likely have to rely on his magnificent turn of foot to earn a July berth.

Nebula (Nkosi Hlope)

Nebula (Nkosi Hlope)

Nebula is the Algoa Cup holder and won his Champions Season debut over 1600m on the Greyville poly hands and heels after moving up impressively. He looks to have come into his own and is drawn in pole.

The long-striding Royal Badge was running on in eyecatching style in that race and will relish the extra 200m in this race.

Master Switch has run below par in all three of his starts at Greyville as he has not settled well, but he now has a plum draw and if he finds cover and settles he has the ability to go close.

Champion trainer Sean Tarry has four in the top 20 on the log and will try and qualify the gallant filly Trophy Wife in this race. She has been one of the best of a magnificent crop of females and last time out was staying on well for a 1,9 length third in defence of her Gr 2 Gerald Rosenberg crown over 2000m at Turffontein . After a layoff she had three runs in about five weeks, so that was a tough ask and she might now be ready to give of her best.

Celtic Captain (Nkosi Hlophe)

Celtic Captain (Nkosi Hlophe)

Celtic Captain has been scratched from the July as it is probably a touch too far for him. He can be headstrong so is another one who needs cover, because if he settles he has a fine turn of foot and a sustained finish. His draw of six is thus a bit tricky but if he does find cover and settles this trip will be ideal and he will go close.

Go Direct, not a July entry, produced an amazing finish to win a Pinnacle event over this trip at Turffontein in April and he was caught wide in the Betting World 1900 before ending in a probably too handy position. He now has a plum draw and if held up off the pace could surprise.

The front-running Crowd Pleaser is the most interesting runner in the race as he won an Allowance Plate over this trip on the poly last time out and beat none other than Edict Of Nantes and Lady Of The World, who won the Gr 1 Daily News 2000 and Gr 1 Woolavington 2000 in their next respective starts. The latter pair were likely preparing in that race but it was still a fine display and Crowd Please has won his last three starts at Greyville. Against him is his wide draw as he will have to make some use of to get to the front.

By David Thiselton

‘Badge’ stakes Cup Trial claim
Published: 7 June 2017

‘Badge’ stakes Cup Trial claim
Keep an eye out for Royal Badge who could offer some good value in the Gr 3 Cup Trial over 1800m on Saturday at Greyville...

The Adam Marcus trained four-year-old gelding Royal Badge is rated a 150/1 shot with Betting World for the Vodacom Durban July, but a perusal over the progeny record of his under rated sire Go Deputy will quickly show he is not just a hopeful entry. He will stake a claim for a berth in the big race when he runs in the Gr 3 Cup Trial over 1800m on Saturday at Greyville.

Adam Marcus

Adam Marcus

Marcus said, “His biggest asset is he is an extremely good mover.”

He showed that in his Champions Season pipe opener on the Greyville poly over 1600m. He turned it on in the straight and his big stride carried him to a fast finishing fourth, 2,4 lengths behind Nebula, whom he faces on Saturday on 3kg better terms.

Marcus said, “It was a wonderful prep after a little break and he has improved from that run and is exceptionally well. I was very pleased with the acceleration he showed, so don’t think the 1800m will be too short for him. We have always thought of him as a horse who was on the up and at this time of the Champions Season it just takes one race to go your way and you suddenly have a boom horse.”

Unfortunately, Royal Badge’s regular rider Richard Fourie will be aboard the fancied July horse Elusive Silva on Saturday.

However, Marcus is pleased with the replacement Grant van Niekerk, whom he said should know Royal Badge as he has ridden him in track work in Cape own before.

Adam’s famous father Basil, who was a seven-times Hong Kong Champion jockey, had two July runners as a trainer in Jay Peg and Desert Links.

Grant Van Niekerk (Nkosi Hlophe)

Grant Van Niekerk (Nkosi Hlophe)

Adam has not yet had a runner in the big race, but has earmarked a program for Royal Badge, which is based on the one Desert Links followed in 2008.

Desert Links won the Cup Trial, finished a 1,6 length fifth in the July and then won the Gold Cup.

Adam said, “It is very exciting to have a horse in contention for a place in the July and hopefully he gets in, that would be awesome.”

Looking at the stakes earners of Go Deputy’s first crop: Adobe Pink won two races in a busy season as a three-year-old and ended the season merit rated 76, but she won four on the trot as a four-year-old and ended the season merit rated 96; Pessoa was merit rated 78 entering the July of his three-year-old year and then won four on the trot, including his first three starts as a four-year-old, and he later added the Gr 3 King’s Cup to end the season merit rated 103; Changingoftheguard did well as a three-year-old winning two races including a Listed race and was merit rated 95, but an eight month break from January until September benefitted him because in his second start as a four-year-old he won the Matchem Stakes, beating the crack three-year-old King Of Pain. These are just three examples of the progeny of a sire who have always paid to follow the moment they turn four-years-old as the improvement is notable in virtually every instance.

Royal Badge himself did well as a three-year-old, winning three races, but his first black type-earning performance came in the December of this season as a four-year-old when cruising to a 2,75 length win in the Gr 3 Grand West Cape Summer Stayers handicap over 2500m. He is now merit rated 95 and among his competition on Saturday will be another Go Deputy four-year-old, Go Direct, who has also proved progressive this season.

Royal Badge has a tricky draw of seven in the nine horse field, but in that last 1600m race he had a similar draw and was dropped out to second where he found the rail and switched off nicely.

By David Thiselton

Star studded field in Gold Challenge
Published: 6 June 2017

Star studded field in Gold Challenge
The Rising Sun Gold Challenge is one of the last chances to qualify for the Grade 1 Vodacom Durban July...

Sixteen Vodacom Durban July contenders bidding for a berth in the country’s premier event and competing across three graded feature races topped by the R1-million, Grade 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge, is what awaits punters at Greyville in Durban on Saturday.

But last year’s winner of the R4.25-million race, The Conglomerate, as the first reserve is not guaranteed of a run in the Grade 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge unless there is a scratching among the 14 whose places are secured – but he is currently 11th on the official July Log and should still be included in the big race as last year’s winner.

the conglomerate

2016 VDJ winner THE CONGLOMERATE

With nine feature events on the 10-race card the meeting is one of the biggest events on the South African racing calendar and the final opportunity for entries for the blue-ribbon event to make the final field for the first Saturday in July.

The Rising Sun Gold Challenge includes eight July entries including the surprise Independent On Saturday Drill Hall Stakes winner Marinaresco that won the Mike And Carol Bass Champions Cup last year and the captain of the Brett Crawford stable team, Captain America, that ran a good race behind Marinaresco in the Drill Hall in his first outing since finishing third in the Sun Met and second in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate.

Master Sabina, winner of the Summer Cup and French Navy, fourth in the Champions Challenge at Turffontein, are included along with Sean Tarry’s sprinters Trip To Heaven and Bulleting Home, the latter having won the King’s Cup at Greyville.

Star filly Bela-Bela will also take her place in the field in a bid to secure her July spot along with Saratoga Dancer that are ninth and 14th on the July Log respectively.

The Grade 3 Cup Trial over 1 800m includes six July hopefuls including Black Arthur that was the boom three-year-old last season and last year’s Cape Winter Derby and recent Sledgehammer winner Elusive Silva. Master Switch and Trophy Wife, the latter having finished third in the recent Gerald Rosenberg, will add spice to the 1 600m weight-for-age event.

In the Grade 2 Tibouchina Stakes, Nightingale and Silver Mountain, both from the Candice Bass-Robinson yard, are the two July candidates hoping to make a strong enough impression to gain an invite into the big race but have a strong field of fillies to contend with.

By Richard McMillan

A challenge for Captain America
Published: 6 June 2017

A challenge for Captain America
Brett Crawford trained Captain America faces a top class field in Saturday's Grade 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge...

Brett Crawford will attempt to make it five Grade 1s for the season on Saturday at Greyville when the mellowed six-year-old gelding Captain America revisits a course, which was thought to not suit him as a headstrong three-year-old colt.

However, he will be facing a top class field in the Rising Sun Gold Challenge over 1600m.

Captain America (Liesl King)

Captain America (Liesl King)

Captain America’s class was shown early in his career, but a headstrong tendency soon became evident. He needs to employ handy to front-running tactics at the highest level because he does not possess an instant turn of foot. Gelding and maturity have seen him able to settle nicely in front and he has developed into a dangerous front runner. The big six-year-old is thus back in KZN for the first time for three years. Against him is a high draw and he will need to jump better than he did in the recent Drill Hall Stakes.

Marinaresco clearly loves Greyville and the key is his exceptional turn of foot. He would prefer further than a mile, but proved his effectiveness over shorter when winning the Drill Hall Stakes. He has a plum draw on Saturday.

Trip To Heaven is another horse with an exceptional turn of foot. A mile stretches him, but he showed in this race last year his class can carry him to the line as he only lost the race in the boardroom.

The versatile Bela-Bela has been unplaced in both her starts against the boys, but those were in the July and the Met and it will be interesting to see whether the coupling of her speed and class makes her more effective against them over this trip.

Brazuca finished a narrow second to subsequent Cape Guineas winner Noah From Goa in the Dingaans two years ago, so is a candidate here from a good draw.

His stablemate New Predator was fourth in this race last year, two lengths behind French Navy and the latter beat him by 1,7 lengths in this year’s Grade 1 weight for age Horse Chestnut Stakes over 1600m at Turffontein. New Predator has been top drawer over 1400m and might now begin seeing out 1600m better at a course which suits him, so he can’t be ignored, although his wide draw makes it tough.

French Navy is coming off an identical program to last year and his performances have been very similar, so he can place again, although his last win was way back in January last year.

Dual Guineas winner Janoobi is the only three-year-old contestant and has proven himself a dangerous front runner. The form of his Daisy Guineas win at this track is suspect, but the form of his Gauteng Guineas win is strong. His pole position draw helped his front-running style in the Daisy Guineas, but he now has a wide draw.

Saratoga Dancer (Nkosi Hlophe)

Saratoga Dancer (Nkosi Hlophe)

Sail South is much improved this season as he has settled better than in the past and he finished third in the Queen’s Plate, beaten 0,75 lengths by Captain America and he was 0,3 lengths ahead of Marinaresco. He has a tricky draw but Richard Fourie up is a bonus.

It will likely be a July preparation run for dual Gr 1 Sansui Summer Cup winner Master Sabina, who would prefer further. However, he is drawn inn pole and it’s a first run for a new yard, so this classy sort can’t be ignored.

Bulleting Home quickened away from the field in the Kings Cup and then finished fifth in the Gr 1 Tsogo Sun Sprint. However, it will be tougher here at Grade 1 weight for age level.

Saratoga Dancer has a fine turn of foot and consequently loves Greyville. He showed he is effective over shorter distances when third in the Drill Hall, beaten a head by Marinaresco, with whom he is now 2kg worse off.

Deo Juvente was 0,8 lengths behind New Predator in the Charity Mile when giving the latter 0,5kg and he was a neck behind Saratoga Dancer in that race when giving the latter 1,5kg. His surprise win in the Gr 1 Premier’s Champions Challenge constituted an improved performance over 2000m, so if he does the same over this trip he is a contender.

Victorious Jay won a mile race in good style on Met day and then finished a head second in the Drill Hall, so has come into his own. However, he will be 2kg worse off with Marinaresco from the Drill Hall and has a wide draw to overcome.

Reserve runner The Conglomerate is the Vodacom Durban July champion, but in this weight for age event looks well held on recent form.

Reserve runner No Worries is an enigmatic customer who has matched the best on a couple of occasions, but he is held on recent form.

Reserve runner Table Bay is much vaunted and none of the three three-year-olds who have beaten him over a mile this season are present here.

By David Thiselton

Marinaresco targets Gold
Published: 6 June 2017

Marinaresco targets Gold
Bernard Fayd'Herbe mounts Candice Bass-Robinson trained Marinaresco in the Rising Sun Gold Challenge at Greyville on Saturday...

Last year’s Vodacom Durban July runner-up Marinaresco is reported in good heart for the Rising Sun Gold Challenge at Greyville on Saturday although there is some concern about the trip despite the horse’s win in last month’s Drill Hall over 200m shorter.

Marinaresco Liesl King

Marinaresco Liesl King

Candice Bass-Robinson said: “Marinaresco has been doing well and he is on target for Saturday even though a mile will be a little sharp for him. We have kept him a bit fresh for the race as he needs to be like that to run well over a mile.”

Bernard Fayd’Herbe, who again has the mount, is bidding for his third Gold Challenge win. He scored on the odds-on Pocket Power in 2009 and on 40-1 shock King Of Pain three years ago.

Saturday’s Grade 1 is expected to have an important bearing on the July even though the race’s record might suggest otherwise. Since Flaming Rock won both races for Chris Snaith in 1991, the only Gold Challenge winner to repeat the feat in the same season has been the Justin Snaith-trained Dancer’s Daughter who dead-heated with Pocket Power in the 2008 July.

By Michael Clower

Post Merchants Final Field and Draws
Published: 5 June 2017

Post Merchants Final Field and Draws
Final Field and Draws for the Gr 2 Post Merchants to be run on Friday June 16...

They filled the next three places behind surprise winner Bull Valley in the Grade 1 Tsogo Sun Sprint at Scottsville a week ago and they will go to battle again in the R400 000, Grade 2 Post Merchants over 1 200m at Greyville on Friday, June 16.

Two of them, Search Party and Gulf Storm, that finished second and fourth respectively, are from the stable of top Cape trainer Brett Crawford who triumphantly won both the Grade 1 Daily News 2000 and the Woolavington 2000 at Greyville last weekend and will be on a high with strong hopes of snatching the honours in this top sprint event also.

Separating them at the line in the Tsogo Sun Sprint is the Dennis Drier-trained gelding Barbosa that showed a return to form in the Scottsville race with the promise of potential further improvement when he steps out on the polytrack for this race.

A full field of 14 runners will face the starter, with three reserves, with the Overlord gelding Talktothestars from the Coenie De Beer stable topping the weights and nicely drawn at three. While he disappointed in the Tsogo Sun Sprint, his previous effort when second to superstar Rafeef in the Grade 1 Computaform Sprint was confirmation that he had not lost the enthusiasm for racing and at the weights he has a 1.5kg advantage over his rivals on merit.

Search Party could be the Crawford stable elect with Corne Orffer in the irons and with steady improvement in each of his recent races he could be one of the strongest contenders in the race. Stable companion Gulf Storm, however, will have a major task ahead of him from the widest draw but cannot be discounted.

The Drier stable is in top form and in addition to the success in the Tsogo Sun Gold Medallion at Scottsville, the five-year-old Seventh Rock gelding Guiness gave his opposition a hiding in a MR 95 handicap over 1 000m at Greyville at the weekend confirming the form of the stable.

Gareth van Zyl fields the Captain Al gelding Redcarpet Captain that has won his last two starts over 1 200m on the Poly and the Alec Laird-trained Amazing Strike, winner of his last two starts, will be out to strike again.

Professor Brian from the Joey Ramsden yard has won his last three starts, the most recent over the course and distance in comfortable fashion and in a good time and with a light weight to shoulder again could put the cat among the pigeons in what has the makings of a thrilling speed encounter.

By Richard McMillan

Strydom in splendid form
Published: 5 June 2017

Strydom in splendid form
Raiding jockey Piere Strydom was not expecting much from his carded rides but completed a memorable Graded stakes double at Greyville on Saturday

When Piere Strydom landed at Durban’s King Shaka Airport last Saturday and heard his mount in Race 4 at Greyville had been scratched, he began questioning his decision to fly down for the race meeting.

“When I [initially] looked at my rides I thought that [Race 4] was my only chance for a winner. Now it was scratched,” Strydom said. But by the time he had left Greyville Racecourse to return to the airport that evening he had ridden two Graded stakes winners, Lady Of The House in the Gr1 Woolavington 2000 and Captain Splendid in the Gr 3 Lonsdale Stirrup Cup.

Strydom’s two winners would not have delighted too many punters as Lady Of The House went off unfancied at around 20-1 and you get close to 10-1 on Captain Splendid. But riding fans would have worn out the replay button.

 

Strydom had to overcome draw 15 with Lady Of The House and wasted little time getting his mount into the lead in what looked a sedate pace. “They didn’t go that slow but the track was fast,” said Strydom. “I was told I could use her early on because she stays and is super fit.”

What punters did not know is that his saddle slipped shortly after the start. “That was a concern to me because when she started to hang in late in the race I wasn’t really able to ride her too vigorously.”

As a result, she hung in late and came together with 33-10 shot Gimme Six but stayed on to win by a head. Anthony Delpech lodged an objection against Lady Of The House but it was overruled.

 

As far as the Lonsdale was concerned, Strydom says he was told that Captain Splendid’s work had improved tremendously since his last run. “He was held on form so that must have made the difference,” he added.

Strydom is back at Greyville on Saturday, June 10, for the big Rising Sun racemeeting where he is carded to ride Janoobi in the Gr1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge and Silver Mountain in the Gr2 Tibouchina Stakes. For final fields visit http://www.goldcircle.co.za/champions-season-2/rising-sun-gold-challenge/

TABNews

 

Crawford holds impressive July hand
Published: 5 June 2017

Crawford holds impressive July hand
Trainer Brett Crawford won both Grade 1s at Greyville on Daily News 2000 raceday and will hold a strong hand in the Vodacom Durban July...

Brett Crawford scored his second Grade 1 double of the season at Greyville on Saturday courtesy of Edict Of Nantes and Lady Of The House and stands a fine chance of becoming the first trainer since 2001 to do the Met-Vodacom Durban July double in the same season with two different horses.

Mike Bass achieved the feat with Bunter Barlow and Trademark in 2001 and also did the double with Pocket Power in 2008.

Lady Of The House (Nkosi Hlophe)

Lady Of The House (Nkosi Hlophe)

The Mayfair Speculators-owned Count Dubois colt Edict Of Nantes was an impressive winner of the Daily News 2000 under Anton Marcus.

His supporters will be waiting on tenterhooks to see how the handicapper views the race, but they need not be too anxious.

He beat the 106 merit rated SA Derby winner Al Sahem by 0,5 lengths and confirmed Investec Cape Derby form virtually exactly with Horizon.

The only other horse in the top five with form over a distance beyond a mile was the 81 merit rated Glider Pilot.

Therefore, Edict Of Nantes looks likely to be raised about five points to 107 and not much more.

It might have been a different story if the 101 merit rated SA Derby runner up Pagoda had finished fifth instead of sixth, as he could then have been used as a line horse.

As things stand Edict Of Nantes looks likely to have a nice galloping weight of somewhere from 54kg to 55kg in the July.

Betting World reacted by installing him the new 5/1 favourite. Al Sahem is at 11/2 and previous favourite Marinaresco is now 6/1.

Crawford won the Daily News in 2012 with Jackson. However, Jackson appeared to became a more and more difficult customer the older he got as an entire. He duly over raced in the July.

Piere Strydom (Nkosi Hlophe)

Piere Strydom (Nkosi Hlophe)

In contrast Edict Of Nantes looks to be an easy ride. He has it all, the gatespeed and early pace to help the jockey position him and the ability to be switched on and off at will. He has shown himself capable of quickening superbly off both a slow or a fast pace. He is going to be a hard horse to beat in the July as he looks likely to relish the 2200m trip and should come on from Saturday’s race.

On Saturday Al Sahem was unable to overcome a wide draw of eleven as easily as Edict Of Nantes had overcome his number nine draw. Edict Of Nantes ended up tracking Al Sahem and quickened past him despite being forced out wide. He then held Al Sahem at bay probably more comfortably than the winning margin suggests. However, in the latter’s defence he will relish the 200m further of the July and was coming off a hard Highveld season.

The front pair were clearly superior to third-placed Horizon.

The fourth-placed Glider Pilot is an A P Arrow gelding and is a half-brother to last year’s Daily News winner Rabada. He ran on well from second last to finish five lengths back in just his third career start and it will be will be interesting to see whether trainer Tyrone Zackey supplements him.

In a 5,5 length fifth was Copper Force. This year’s Cape Derby was thought to have been a below par race due to the US$500,000 CTS Mile being run on the same day, yet Copper Force, runner up in the CTS Mile, was comfortably beaten by two Cape Derby contestants on Saturday, the Cape Derby winner Edict Of Nantes and the Cape Derby fifth-placed Horizon. However, Copper Force was ahead of the Cape Derby runner up Zodiac Ruler and Cape Derby third-placed Captain Gambler, so has put his hand up for a July berth.

Zodiac Ruler stayed on from a good position for a 6,75 length seventh. He did take a bump at the start, which might have affected him. However, he was a borderline horse in 19th on the first July log and might come under pressure for a place. However, the July scratchings of both Deo Juvente and Heavenly Blue, both near the top of the first log, will boost his chances.

Captain Splendid (Nkosi Hlophe)

Captain Splendid (Nkosi Hlophe)

Pagoda finished fast to beat Zodiac Ruler by 0,25 lengths, which might have been important as he was in 16th place on the first July log.

It will be interesting to see whether Mayfair Speculators supplement their Woolavington 2000 winner Lady Of The House. Strydom overcame draw 18 of 18 to win last year’s July on the Mayfair Speculators-owned The Conglomerate and produced a virtual carbon copy race on Lady Of The House on Saturday. He was given confidence by Mayfair Speculators Racing manager Derek Brugman, who advised him she was looking for the trip. Strydom eased her to the front at the halfway mark. The rangy filly quickened at the top of the straight and stayed on resolutely. She hung inward in the latter stages, but she always looked likely to hold the narrow runner up Gimme Six at bay and the subsequent objection was overruled.

Safe Harbour beat SA Fillies Classic winner Orchid Island into third and boosted her chances of a July berth as Orchid Island was in fifth place on the July log. Smiling Blue Eyes did her chances of getting into the July no good by finishing unplaced.

Captain Splendid was a fluent winner of the  Gr 3 Lonsdale Stirrup Cup over 2400m, but Banner Hill did his chances of getting into the July no favours by finishing seventh.

Later, the former Gr 1 -winning sprinter Guiness made it a day for Mayfair Speculators to remember.  The cherry on the top was when Markus Jooste, owner of Mayfair Speculators, was able to watch his colours out in front for much of the way in the Epsom Derby, where his part-owned horse Douglas Macarthur finished a gallant seventh.

By David Thiselton

‘Nantes’ new July favourite
Published: 5 June 2017

‘Nantes’ new July favourite
Daily News 2000 hero Edict Of Nantes is the new ante-post favourite for the Vodacom Durban July to be run at Greyville on Saturday July 1...

Edict Of Nantes was yesterday cut from 8-1 to 5-1 favourite with Betting World for the Vodacom Durban July following Saturday’s Daily News triumph. Second-placed Al Sahem has also been shortened (from 13-2 to 11-2).

Previous favourite Marinaresco, who runs in the Rising Sun Gold Challenge at Greyville on Saturday, remains on 6-1. Stable companion Horizon, third in the Daily News, has been marked out from 20-1 to 28-1.

Brett Crawford and Anton Marcus (Nkosi Hlophe)

Brett Crawford and Anton Marcus (Nkosi Hlophe)

World Sports Betting has Edict Of Nantes at 9-2 with Al Sahem on 11-2 and Marinaresco on 13-2. Horizon is a 28-1 chance.

Brett Crawford, fresh from Saturday’s notable Grade 1 double, is planning more assaults on top prizes and Search Party and Gulf Storm, second and fourth to Bull Valley in the Tsogo Sun Sprint, both go for the Post Merchants at Greyville on Friday week.

Crawford said: “Gulf Storm is not drawn well and Search Party is also a bit wide but they will both run while Al Mariachi (third to Sand And Sea in the Tsogo Sun Gold Medallion) goes for the KZN Yearling Sale Million on Met day.”

Live Life, who disappointed in the South African Fillies Sprint, could seek compensation in the Mercury Sprint on July 15.

Candice Bass-Robinson said: “She jumped upwards rather than forwards leaving the pens and was immediately at the back but she will stay in Durban and I will nominate her for the Mercury. However she will come home if she doesn’t draw well.”

By Michael Clower

Crawford issues an ‘Edict”
Published: 4 June 2017

Crawford issues an ‘Edict”
Feature double for trainer Brett Crawford this past Saturday at Greyville...

The Gr1 Daily News 2000 turned into a battle of the Derby heroes as Gr1 Investec Cape Derby winner Edict Of Nantes and Al Sahem, triumphant in the Gr1 SA Derby, came together at the top of the Greyville straight. In a bruising battle that had the balance of the field chasing shadows, Edict Of Nantes gave Brett Crawford and Mayfair Speculators a Gr1 double after Lady Of The House out-gunned favourite Gimme Six in a controversial finish to the Gr1 Woolavington 2000.

Brett Crawford and Anton Marcus (Nkosi Hlophe)

Brett Crawford and Anton Marcus (Nkosi Hlophe)

The betting also indicated a two-horse race with the eventual winner starting a marginal favourite at 22-10 and Al Sahem 26-10 with the balance 8-1 and better.

Earlier, Anton Marcus, first call rider for Mayfair Speculators, was on the ‘wrong’ one in the Woolavington but he picked right this time around. He also got it wrong in the Cape Derby where he put his faith in the Australian-bred Table Bay, only to be upstaged by Frankie Dettori who caught most napping on Edict Of Nantes for his first Gr1 victory in South Africa.

For that reason, many viewed the Cape Derby form as slightly suspect but in hindsight it has proven solid.

“What was meant to be was meant to be. I sat on his back in Cape Town and he is a totally different horse now,” said Marcus. “I think you will only see the best of him as he gets older.”

“I’m glad I could do it for Brett. I always seem to have found the second box for him. It was as if someone had put a piece of pork in the first box,” quipped Marcus, he of Jewish faith.

Marcus always had Al Sahem in his sights. Gingerbread Man, tracked by stable companion Secret Captain, set the early fractions with the two favourites racing off the rail in mid-field. The pair swept wide into the straight with Edict Of Nantes quickening just a little better and going past his market rival crossing the subway.

Edict Of Nantes (Nkosi Hlophe)

Edict Of Nantes (Nkosi Hlophe)

Al Sahem was far from done, sticking to Edict Of Nantes, but Marcus’s decision to go just a fraction earlier than Anthony Delpech proved the master stroke as Edict Of Nantes kept finding to the line, the pair separated by a half-a-length with Horizon three lengths back in third. Both the winner and runner-up are already short-priced for next month’s Vodacom Durban July and the return battle is eagerly awaited while for the balance of yesterday’s field, all will be on tenterhooks.

It was not Delpech’s day as he also had to settle for second on favourite Gimme Six in the Gr1 Woolavington 2000. But he was not a happy camper after being pushed across the course by eventual winner Lady Of The House, lodging a protest against the winner on the grounds of interference in the latter stages.

There was little doubt that Piere Strydom allowed his mount to shift ground under pressure to the point that exchanges got tight as Delpech, who was coming from behind his rival, found himself cramped to the extent that he had difficulty using his stick.

The stipendiary stewards ruled that Gimme Six would not have beaten the winner and the result stood.

Strydom’s tactics in the finish were questionable but he again proved himself a master judge of pace.

Much as he did in last year’s Vodacom Durban July where The Conglomerate had the worst of the draw but sent to the front by Strydom, he gambled early and took decisive action. With some sedate early fractions, Strydom went for broke coming up the hill at the 600 m mark and pinched a few lengths on his rivals which proved to be the master stroke. Lady Of The House stuck gamely to her task to hold Gimme Six albeit in rather controversial circumstances.

In her warm-up for the Woolavington, Lady Of The House had finished a close-up third behind second-placed Edict f Nantes in an Allowance Plate although she was in receipt of 8.5kg from the Derby winner.

By Andrew Harrison

The gloves come off tomorrow
Published: 2 June 2017

The gloves come off tomorrow
Tomorrow should sort out a pecking order as far as the three-year-old July hopefuls are concerned...

How do you sort out a dog-fight – an understandably repulsive ‘sport’ but possibly an appropriate analogy for the Gr1 Daily News 2000 and the Gr1 Woolavington 2000 at Greyville tomorrow?

The ‘fight’ centres around struggles for places in the Vodacom Durban July and with Africa’s greatest horserace just a month away, competition for places in the 18-horse field is now intense.

Safe Harbour (Liesl King)

Safe Harbour (Liesl King)

Tomorrow should sort out a pecking order as far as the three-year-old hopefuls are concerned. The Gr1 Daily News 2000 and the Gr1 Woolavington 2000 have attracted the cream of the crop but in many cases, July hopefuls that fall outside the preferred 18 on the log. At this stage of proceedings, they will need forward showings to come under consideration by the selection panel.

In the Woolavington, Safe Harbour, Orchid Island and Smiling Blue Eyes are all July entries. Safe Harbour ran Bela-Bela to within a length in the Gr1 Paddock Stakes over 1800m at Kenilworth back in January and more recently was beaten the same distance by Orchid Island in the Gr1 SA Fillies Classic. She has yet to race beyond 1800m and stable first call rider S’Manga Khumalo will be aboard stable companion Smiling Blues Eyes with Sean Tarry declaring Muzi Yeni on Safe Harbour which could prove telling.

With still two months of the season to run, Tarry is a shoo-in to top R30 million in stakes. His current tally sitting at R29 239 000.

Anthony Delpech is contracted to ride for Wilgerbosdrift and has been aboard Orchid Island in her last four starts. However, he has jumped ship to partner the Sanith-trained Gimme Six, not a July entry but still a possible with the final supplementary stage on Monday, June 12.

Two early fancies in the July ante-post market, Gr1 SA Derby winner Al Sahem and Gr1 Investec Cape Derby winner Edict Of Nantes, are both due to line up in the Daily News 2000.

After interrupted preparations for both the Gr2 Gauteng Guineas and Gr1 SA Classic, Al Sahem was spot on for the Derby and won as he liked. The SA Derby has always been a useful pointer for the July and runner-up and Derby Trial winner Pagoda, 15th on the current July log, must also come into the reckoning. Geoff Woodruff’s runner has come into his own since he started racing in blinkers but has been a little under the radar.

Edict Of Nantes (Liesl King)

Edict Of Nantes (Liesl King)

Brett Crawford’s runner Edict Of Nantes goes into the Daily News off an excellent effort in an Allowance Plate where he gave the winner, Crowd Pleaser, 6kg. The race was switched to the poly track and he was making up ground quickly over the final furlong which augurs well for tomorrow.

Both Al Sahem and Edict Of Nantes are certain of a July spot and Pagoda is also in contention. Others on the fringes include Africa Rising, Zodiac Ruler, Horizon and Copper Force. Africa Rising steps up to ten furlongs for the first time but his pedigree suggests that he should have no trouble seeing it out. However, his Daisy Guineas effort behind Janoobi does raise a few question marks. The three others mentioned are all in the same boat. Zodiac Ruler did the best of them in the Guineas and his second place in the Investec Derby will count in his favour. Horizon started odds-on for the Investec Derby but was beaten nearly four lengths. He opened his KZN campaign with a promising win over 1400m but disappointed in the Guineas again when starting favourite. The Daily News trip should be more to his liking and he may be worth another chance.

Copper Force is another borderline case but will probably need a seriously big effort tomorrow if he is to make the July field. Although he has not finished out of the money in eight starts he has finished behind Africa Rising and Zodiac Ruler in recent outings.

Two other July hopefuls in action at Greyville are Rocketball and Banner Hill who take their chances in the Gr3 Lonsdale Stirrup Cup. Rocketball will have to up his game substantially to have any chance of making the July field while Banner Hill finished four lengths off Ten Gun Salute in the Gr2 Betting World 1900 which may have compromised his chances. Glen Kotzen said Banner Hill’s original target for the winter season had been the Gr3 Gold Cup but decided to nominated for the July after a fluent Champions Season opener. Victory on Saturday will definitely put him back into the reckoning.

By Andrew Harrison

Pagoda on the right track
Published: 1 June 2017

Pagoda on the right track
Geoff Woodruff trained Pagoda runs in the Grade 1 Daily News 2000 at Greyville on Saturday...

Geoff Woodruff’s Grade 1 Daily News 2000 runner Pagoda and Grade 1 Woolavington 2000 pair Bi Pot and Al Danza arrived at Summerveld on Wednesday night and all looked to have travelled well.

The five-times champion trainer lamented his bad luck with draws in Durban this season and this trio were the latest to be “drawn out in the bush”.

Geoff Woodruff (Nkosi Hlophe)

Geoff Woodruff (Nkosi Hlophe)

However, he thought all three had the form to be contenders in their respective races.

Mogok gelding Pagoda is currently in 15th place on the Vodacom Durban July log and Woodruff aims to “pop him into the July” with a low weight.

He clarified, “The Daily News is always a tough race for the Johannesburg horses because they have just come off a long, hard season and it is more a race to keep the horses going for the July and also to show them the course.”

He reckoned Pagoda was a July type of a horse and the big race had always been his target. He said, “He is small and neat and has a nice turn of foot. If you have a three-year-old coming into the July with 53kg or 54kg you know you are in the hunt.”

Pagoda would, as things currently stand, have to carry 53kg. However, off his 101 merit rating he would be 2kg under sufferance.

Last time out in the Grade 1 SA Derby over 2450m on the tough Turffontein Standside track, Pagoda was running close up to the eventual winner Al Sahem midway through the race when an incident caused him to be shuffled right to the back.

Woodruff said, “That was not the plan at all, but Gavin (Lerena) had him on the rail and he became caught in a box behind a slowing horse.”

Pagoda then ran on strongly from last to finish a 1,75 length second. Woodruff said realistically Pagoda might have finished closer, but doubted he could have won the race. He also felt realistically Pagoda would not be able to reverse form on Saturday with Al Sahem facing him at level weights again.

As things stand, Pagoda will receive 0,5kg from Al Sahem in the July. However, if the latter converts favouritism on Saturday the weight differential might change significantly.

Keagan De Melo (Nkosi Hlophe)

Keagan De Melo (Nkosi Hlophe)

In his penultimate start Pagoda was reminiscent of one of the best Mogok’s, The Apache, in that he crept up steadily in the straight until the 300m mark and then when Lerena pressed the button he kicked impressively and went away from the field to win by 3,3 lengths. Chase Maujean replaces the now England-based Lerena and will have to negotiate a number ten draw in a twelve horse field.

Woodruff said the Judpot filly Bi Pot had not been “over raced” this season and she was “fit and well.”

He added, “She ran a very good race in the SA Fillies Classic and I think she is Gr 1 class, but I would have been much more confident if she had landed a better draw.”

This filly has a lovely, long stride and she turned it on impressively in the SA Fillies Classic to hit the front. She was only caught late, so should be suited to the tight Greyville track. She subsequently ran fourth in the SA Oaks over 2450m, reversing form with SA Fillies Classic winner Orchid Island. So, she should relish this 2000m trip and looks to be a massive runner despite having to jump from draw 12. Maujean will ride her for the fifth time in succession.

Woodruff admitted the Captain Al filly Al Danza had a stamina question mark. The Gr 2 Daisy Fillies Guineas is the longest race she has run in to date. Woodruff revealed she had been cut into from behind in that race, so she did well to stay on from a box seat for a 3,75 length fourth. It also gave reason to hope she could stay Saturday’s 2000m trip. Keagan de Melo rides from draw 13 in the 15 horse field.

By David Thiselton

Showdown at Daily News
Published: 1 June 2017

Showdown at Daily News
Crawford makes the point that Edict of Nantes will be better suited by the extra furlong on Saturday...

SA Derby winner Al Sahem has been installed 19-10 favourite with World Sports Betting for Saturday’s Daily News 2000 but Brett Crawford reports that Cape Derby winner Edict Of Nantes – second favourite at 3-1 – is in particularly good shape for the showdown.

Brett Crawford (Nkosi Hlophe)

Brett Crawford (Nkosi Hlophe)

Crawford, who completed the Cape Derby-Daily News double with Jackson five years ago, said: “Edict Of Nantes has come on a lot from his recent Allowance Plate second, he has been doing well and we are very happy with him.”

Anton Marcus’s mount shouldered top weight in that Allowance race, his first appearance for 16 weeks, and Crawford makes the point that the colt will be better suited by the extra furlong on Saturday.

Horizon is 11-2 third favourite and WSB’s other prices are 6-1 Pagoda,7-1 Zodiac Ruler, 10-1 Africa Rising, 12-1 Copper Force, 14-1 Secret Captain, 20-1 Captain Gambler, 50-1 Dark Moon Rising, Gingerbread Man, Glider Pilot.

In the Woolavington Daisy Fillies Guineas winner Gimme Six is 5-2 favourite to confirm the placings with 6-1 shot Final Judgement who has a length and a half to make up but Glen Kotzen, successful with Imperious Star seven years ago, is cautiously optimistic.

He said: “Final Judgement is flying – she has had a good prep and is doing really well. Also I think she is going to enjoy the Greyville 2 000m.

“She had one run over 1 800 and that was in the Paddock Stakes when she finished just over two lengths off the winner but it could be a different story against her own age group. She has tended to get a bit flat-spotted over shorter distances so maybe she will be even more effective over further.”

Orchid Island is 6-1 to give Mike de Kock his fourth Woolavington in nine seasons and other prices are 6-1 Epona, 7-1 Safe Harbour, 10-1 Bi Pot, 12-1 Smiling Blue Eyes, 14-1 Wind Chill, 16-1 Oriental Oak, Lady Of The House, 20-1 Al Danza, 25-1 The High Life, Party Crasher, 50-1 Dress For Success, 66-1 Onesie.

By Michael Clower

Bela-Bela on target for July
Published: 1 June 2017

Bela-Bela on target for July
Saturday at Greyville should sort out a pecking order as far as the three-year-old July hopefuls are concerned...

The grey filly Bela-Bela was the only July hopeful in action this past weekend and trainer Justin Snaith will have been well pleased with her showing in Gr1 SA Fillies Sprint. Up with the pace throughout, Bela-Bela finished just off the leading pack in a sprint that will have sharpened her up no end in the lead up to the Vodacom Durban July come Saturday, July 1.

Bela Bela (Tracy Robertson Photography)

Bela Bela (Tracy Robertson Photography)

Saturday at Greyville should sort out a pecking order as far as the three-year-old hopefuls are concerned. The Gr1 Daily News 2000 and the Gr1 Woolavington 2000 have attracted the cream of the crop but in some cases, July hopefuls that fall outside the preferred 18 on the log. At this stage of proceedings, they will need forward showings to come under consideration by the selection panel.

In the Woolavington, Safe Harbour, Orchid Island and Smiling Blue Eyes are all July entries. Safe Harbour ran Bela-Bela to within a length in the Gr1 Paddock Stakes over 1800m at Kenilworth back in January and more recently was beaten the same distance by Orchid Island in the Gr1 SA Fillies Classic. She has yet to race beyond 1800m and stable first call rider S’Manga Khumalo will be aboard stable companion Smiling Blues Eyes with Sean Tarry declaring Muzi Yeni on Safe Harbour which could prove telling.

With still two months of the season to run, Tarry is a shoo-in to top R30 million in stakes. His current tally sits at R29 239 000.

Anthony Delpech is contracted to ride for Wilgerbosdrift and has been aboard Orchid Island in her last four starts. However, he has jumped ship to partner the Sanith-trained Gimme Six, not a July entry but still a possible with the final supplementary stage on Monday, June 12.

Two early fancies in the July ante-post market, Gr1 SA Derby winner Al Sahem and Gr1 Investec Cape Derby winner Edict Of Nantes, are both due to line up in the Daily News 2000.

After interrupted preparations for both the Gr2 Gauteng Guineas and Gr1 SA Classic, Al Sahem was spot on for the Derby and won as he liked. The SA Derby has always been a useful pointer for the July and runner-up and Derby Trial winner Pagoda must also come into the reckoning. Geoff Woodruff’s runner has come into his own since he started racing in blinkers but has been a little under the radar.

Al Sahem (JC Photographics)

Al Sahem (JC Photographics)

Brett Crawford’s runner Edict Of Nantes goes into the Daily News off an excellent effort in an Allowance Plate where he gave the winner, Crowd Pleaser, 6kg. The race was switched to the poly track and he was making up ground quickly over the final furlong which augurs well for Saturday.

Both Al Sahem and Edict Of Nantes are certain of a July spot and Pagoda must be thereabouts. Others on the fringes include Africa Rising, Zodiac Ruler, Horizon and Copper Force. Africa Rising steps up to ten furlongs for the first time but his pedigree suggests that he should have no trouble seeing it out. However, his Daisy Guineas effort behind Janoobi does raise a few question marks. The three others mentioned are all in the same boat. Zodiac Ruler did the best of them in the Guineas and his second place in the Investec Derby will count in his favour. Horizon started odds-on for the Investec Derby but was beaten nearly four lengths. He opened his KZN campaign with a promising win over 1400m but disappointed again in the Guineas again when starting favourite. The Daily News trip should be more to his liking and he may be worth another chance.

Copper Force is another borderline case but will probably need a seriously big effort on Saturday if he is to make the July field. Although he has not finished out of the money in eight starts he has finished behind Africa Rising and Zodiac Ruler in recent outings.

Two other July hopefuls in action at Greyville are Rocketball and Banner Hill who take their chances in the Gr3 Lonsdale Stirrup Cup. Rocketball will have to up his game substantially to have any chance of making the July field while Banner Hill finished four lengths off Ten Gun Salute in the Gr2 Betting World 1900 which may have compromised his chances. Glen Kotzen said Banner Hill’s original target for the winter season had been the Gr3 Gold Cup but decided to nominated for the July after a fluent Champions Season opener. Victory on Saturday will definitely put him into the reckoning.

By Andrew Harrison

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