David Thiselton reports that it’s that time of the year again, the KwaZulu-Natal Champions Season, a time of excitement for trainers, jockeys and punters, many of them hoping they will be associated with one of those magnificent thoroughbred machines that will burst onto the Vodacom Durban July picture from nowhere.
Fashion designers and models have other dreams, pundits try and sort the wheat from the chaff, caterers are concentrating on taste bud trends and aspirant tote tellers flock to Greyville for training sessions.
It all begins on Saturday at Greyville with the running of the Grade 2 R300 000 KZN Guineas and the Grade 2 R250 000 KZN Fillies Guineas kicking it off.
Here is what the trainers said about their Guineas hopes.
Russian Sage : As far as the traveling went, this has been our best journey ever - everything was plain sailing and went according to plan. The Daily News 2000 is his main aim. he’s never been to Greyville before and draw 10 is a bit in no man’s land. However he’s as well as he’s ever been and looks magnificent. He is a horse with tremendous heart and we are expecting a good run.
First Honour : We’ve always thought a lot of him. He shows tremendous potential at home and has a magnificent action.
Tan Can : He is a very smart horse with lots of scope. He is more a Daily News 2000 horse and I am preparing him for that race and the July.
The dangers : Russian Sage is a top class horse with a huge heart and you always have to respect Mike de Kock’s horses.
Nathan Kotzen (assistant trainer to Mike de Kock) :
Imbongi : He has been working very well at Summerveld and of the three is the one to be with in my opinion. Everything is in his favour. He turned for home far back in the SA Classic and made up ground very quickly but the 1800m found him out. He is a 1400m and 1600m horse. With his good turn of foot he will be suited to Greyville and is well drawn. We will leave it to Anthony Delpech to position him.
Art Of War : This is a big jump in class for him.
Kilcoy Castle and Horatio : Both horses are very well and I feel positive about their chances off good draws. Greyville will suit Kilcoy Castle as he seems to have a short run in. I don’t think he’s been disappointing.
The dangers : Imbongi could be the main danger as the Cape horses have drawn wide.
Umngazi : He does not have the best of draws but has improved with blinkers and has a top jockey aboard. He will take a lot of beating. He will definately get the 1600m. If possible we will run him handy.
Thandolwami : We were going to try half-cups to get him to race closer to the pace. But from such a wide draw we have no option but to drop him in behind them and run on from the back so we will leave the half-cups off. We will be happy if he can place from that draw.