durban july parade ring
Scenes from the Vodacom Durban July 2007, Greyville Racecourse, Durban
(John Lewis)

As the great race dawns, there are any number of opinions being voiced about its outcome, not only among the general public, but on radio stations, television stations, in newspapers and magazines. On Monday night on Tellytrack, one of the game’s great sages, Robert Bloomberg, sometimes guilty of the “unutterable”, never dull and certainly never ignored, proffered the view that Dancer’s Daughter, if she didn’t pull too hard, would win the race from Pocket Power and Pick Six. Pick Six’s inclusion gives Summerhill a tiny squeak, and we were encouraged when Stan Elley later offered his view that Desert Links could run into the money though he couldn’t look beyond Pocket Power for his winner.

Interestingly, Mike Bass, who has three exceptional runners in the race in the form of Pocket Power, Floatyourboat and River Jetez, also mentioned his concern about Pick Six as a potential danger, and while we can take nothing for granted from a horse who has never quite regained the form he showed when he ran off with the spoils in the richest race in the country, the Gomma Gomma, at his best, and at these weights, he could trouble them.

Yesterday Mike de Kock, who saddles one of the four Summerhill runners in the race, Galant Gagnant, told us he had reservations about the current three year olds and their readiness to take on the older horses in a race of this class, and while he believed that Galant Gagnant must have at least as good a chance as Russian Sage on the strength of his form in the Daily News 2000, (there’s obviously value in Galant Gagnant at 20/1 on the strength of that statement), Mike seemed to think the winner would come from the older horses.

Against that, past Chairman of the Jockey Club, Ronnie Napier, believes otherwise. On the basis of Imbongi’s top-class form against the older horses, coupled with J.J. The Jet Plane’s 60 kg “whipping” of the older horses in the Golden Horse Casino Sprint and Eddington’s runaway in this year’s Gomma Gomma, Ronnie seems to believe that the three year olds come into the race with a big chance, though the best of them (Russian Sage and Galant Gagnant) are drawn in the “sticks”.

Below are Robert Bloomberg’s selections courtesy of Freeracer and Black Pearl Sports Betting :

1. POCKET POWER – has benefited from the handicappers strangely in my opinion weighting him off a 116 and not a 118 which he has clearly earned. The balance of the field barring the few under sufferance are now carrying 1kg more than they should. His last run was phenomenal as he was too far out of his ground and had an impossible task to make up that amount of leeway after they cantered early and then sprinted. His draw will no doubt allow him to be better placed this time. Has had a far better prep than last year when he finished a close-up 4th and he remains the horse they all have to beat.

2. BUY AND SELL – excellent run in the Gold Challenge and clearly peaking at the right time. Is 2,5kgs better off with Pocket Power on that run. Ran a great race in the J&B Met finishing a 2L 4th and is 2kgs better off with the favourite on that run as well. Was runner-up with the same jockey in last year’s event and despite a wide draw is a leading contender and certainly the pick of the 4 Sean Tarry runners.

3. FLOATYOURBOAT – is sinking as fast as the Titanic at the moment. Yet to finish in front of Pocket Power and this won’t have changed after this race. No chance.

4. HUNTINGTOWER – his best days are behind him. His good draw may be to his detriment as he could be handier than he usually is and may end up pulling and consequently have nothing to come at the business end. He won’t be repeating last year’s victory which incidentally was his last win.

5. SUCCESFUL BIDDER – not in the same nick coming into the race as he was last year. He is off form and is a forlorn hope here.

6. CATMANDU – his improvement has been remarkable since going over ground. Has a surprisingly good turn of foot and should be running on. Despite all these qualities I can’t have him as his last win was in a MR92 and I don’t believe he can ever make up the amount of ground that he will have to at this track against this quality of field. .

7. EDDINGTON – had no chance before he drew gate 18 and even less chance now. Will probably try and get to the front, but will fold like a cheap deck-chair in the straight.

8. PICK SIX – the dark horse of the race. Very well weighted on last year’s form. If you like the grey filly like I do, then remember that he beat her in the Premiers Trophy by 3L and is now 4,5kgs better off as well. If you consider that the likes of Jeff Lloyd, Weichong Marwing, Glyn Schofield, Mark Khan and Bernard Fayd’herbe have never won a solitary July between them and in Anton Marcus you have a man who has won 4, then ignore this one at your peril.

9. SHE’S ON FIRE – the extra 1kg she picked up for winning a mediocre GR3 doesn’t help her cause. Personally, I can’t believe that Weichong Marwing chose her in preference to the Dancer’s Daughter. Her only hope is if the track is soft, but even if that happens I’ll be surprised if she were to feature. She’d better not win ‘cause I told Barry Irwin that I would turn the game up if she won!

10. DANCER’S DAUGHTER – has been my selection since J&B Met day and I see no reason to change now. Is very well weighted as she doesn’t get the 1,5kg penalty she received for her Gold Challenge win. Is now 2,5kgs better off with Pocket Power on that run and carries less weight here than she did in winning that WFA event. My only concern is that she can pull like a dentist and if she does then she won’t win. However, in Kevin Shea she has a man who is a master at getting horses to settle. Will she stay? Well she did win the Paddock Sakes easily enough on the new course at Kenilworth over 1800m and many a miler has won the July such as Bush Telegraph, Flaming Rock, Royal Chalice to name but three. A big chance of giving Justin Snaith his first July win.

11. BOUND BY HONOUR – if he couldn’t run a place in the GR3 Jubilee even if it was a prep run then he isn’t going to be anywhere near the leader board here. He may have beaten Buy and Sell pointlessly in April, but I’ll be amazed were he to repeat that and personally I wouldn’t even back him with stolen money.

12. SILVER MIST – on his J&B Met run he is well in with Pocket Power as he is 3kgs better off for a 2,35L defeat. It’s not impossible that he could fluke a cheque. However, he has had a number of chances in the past and appears a few lengths off the best. He is also better on a left-handed track.

13. DESERT LINKS – now here is a mystery horse. Not because he has a chance, but rather why on earth there is any money for him. He shouldn’t be in the race in my opinion and only got in at the 11th hour by winning the Cup Trial. Despite what some of his connections have to say will have more in front of him that behind him when they cross the finishing line.

14. STRATEGIC NEWS – may have won the Summer Cup, but his form since then has been decidedly average. From a 20 draw he can start now as far as I am concerned despite being fancied by a well known Tellytack presenter usually seen armed with a video camera.

15. RUSSIAN SAGE – arguably the best of the 3 year olds and has a nice galloping weight. Will probably follow Eddington through from his wide draw and although he is a street fighter the question is how much he will have left to come at the business end after being used up to overcome his draw. He has had narrow wins over fellow 3yos only and now has to tackle his elders. I’m not convinced, but I wouldn’t fall over were he to win, but then he has just as much chance of missing the frame.

16. GALANT GAGNANT – ran out of his socks in the Daily News, but the jury is out whether he can repeat that here from a shocking draw. His last two wins have only been in Graduation Company and in a MR79 which hardly sets your pulse racing.. There is however the Mike De Kock factor so a place is not entirely impossible, but I can’t see him winning.

17. LION’S BLOOD – since being sold he has lost his way completely. I don’t believe he is course suited and he looked decidedly poor in his official July gallop. Will be nearer the back than the front at the finish.

18. TAN CAN – was running on strongly in the Daily News and its quite conceivable that he could finish in front of Russian Sage this time around as he was also only a neck behind him in the Cape Derby. He is also 3kgs out with Pocket Power on official merit ratings which doesn’t help his cause. I can’t really see him winning, but he has a definite money chance.

19. RIVER JETEZ – another that shouldn’t be as short as she is in the betting. She fell across the line in the Astrapak (a race that has only seen 2 others before her following up and winning the July and that in 40 years the last of which was Occult 22 years ago) beating Catmandu and Wonder Lawn. When she won the KZN Oaks last year she beat Clandestine, London Fashion and Cymbeline, none of whom have won a race since. The bottom line is that she is not good enough to win a race of this nature and  Jeff Lloyd will still remain winless.

20. WENDYWOOD – an incredible achievement in even getting here after 2 runs as she was an unraced maiden 6 weeks ago. Although I hold her in high regard this race has come way too soon for her in her career. Beating Happy Spirit narrowly is not July winning form and she is also 3 kgs under sufferance so I’ll pass on her.


It’s the older brigade for me and I’ve narrowed it down to 4 runners. DANCER’S DAUGHTER, POCKET POWER, PICK SIX and BUY AND SELL. Any of them could win. I still believe that the filly is the one most likely to end up victorious and I will take my chances with her. Having said that I must admit to having money on all 4 as they have all represented good each-way value at one stage or another.