Scenes from the Vodacom Durban July 2007, Greyville Racecourse, Durban
(John Lewis)

There are just two days to go to the “big one”. With the sort of money being plunged on a race of the enormity of the Vodacom July, there are inevitably ebbs and flows in the price of some of the horses. It takes just a word or two from people whose opinion is revered, for a horse to shorten in the betting, or where he’s ignored to drift out.

While both of the top three-year-olds in the race, RUSSIAN SAGE and Sheikh Mohammed’s GALANT GAGNANT are poorly drawn, that can’t be the only reason they’ve shifted so significantly from an opening call of 6/1. The dual Group One winner RUSSIAN SAGE, is now quoted at twice those odds, while GALANT GAGNANT has doubled his from 10/1 to 20/1, which suggests both are now pretty good value as the leading representatives of their age group. We gather Anthony Delpech, who rates GALANT GAGNANT not far behind IMBONGI, had been running like blazes wherever an opportunity presents itself, to rid himself of the 3kg it will take him to get down to 51kg on race day.

That said, from those pundits we’ve heard or read, it seems RUSSIAN SAGE is almost friendless, while GALANT GAGNANT is certainly among the leading fancies of quite a few experts.

As much money as has been seen for any horse in the race has fallen on the shoulders of the two fillies, RIVER JETEZ and DANCER’S DAUGHTER, while Summerhill-bred PICK SIX has been the subject of significant and sustained gambles, shortening his price from 20/1 to 10/1. Speaking to trainer Charles Laird yesterday, he tells us the horse is in glowing form and Anton Marcus is expecting a big run from his mount.

From a purely Summerhill perspective, it’s also encouraging to hear there are a number of leading tipsters who count DESERT LINKS in their top three. While CATMANDU received the nod as the second choice (after POCKET POWER) of no lesser judge than Charl Pretorius with GALANT GAGNANT his third pick.

The heat is on now, and there’s nowhere to hide! Sixty thousand people will crush into the racecourse at Greyville on Saturday, before they close the gates and whatever the outcome, the rest of Durban will be hushed by the roar of the Greyville crowd for the two minutes and a bit of change, it takes to cover the 2,200 metres of this gruelling event.