“David Thiselton lays down his Vodacom Durban July selections”
With July Fever building to what promises to be a massive crescendo come Vodacom Durban July Raceday tomorrow; trainers, jockey and owners alike will be feeling the “butterflies”.
Top turf writer David Thiselton reports that Mike Bass, the experienced three-time July winning trainer of the great Pocket Power, who is ruling favourite, would probably have slept well, knowing he has done all he can, while the Fayd’Herbe brothers, jockey Bernard and assistant trainer Robert, will be united in spirit as they approach the final hurdle of the mighty horse’s winter campaign.
Pocket Power has had a better preparation than ever for this year’s big race and seems to be as good as ever despite his age. He and his sister could well fight out the finish, although River Jetez’s draw of 15 is a concern for supporters.
Big City Life has been described by his trainer Glen Kotzen as a “freak”, who gets better and better all the time.
Big City Life is a three-year-old and is 1,5kg under sufferance, but the form of his only meeting with Pocket Power suggests he has a great chance.
Kapil can beat Pocket Power too if the form of their last meeting is taken literally, although there is a question mark over whether he will stay the 2 200m. It should also be borne in mind that Pocket Power usually does just enough to win no matter the weight he’s carrying.
Our Giant also has a stamina doubt, but with that doubt in mind could not have asked for a better draw than two.
Tropical Empire is trained by Duncan Howells, whose knowledge of big race preparations was influenced by the great trainer, David Payne.
Duncan Howells has won two Grade 1 races with similarly priced horses and Tropical Empire’s draw of one is ideal for his style of running, which is to come with a flying finish.
Thandolwami is a similar type of horse to Tropical Empire and has also drawn well, so he should be running on strongly at the finish.
However, with both Tropical Empire and Thandolwami, it should be borne in mind that only the top six numbered horses are in the handicap i.e. fairly weighted according to their merit rating. The rest are under sufferance.
Smart Banker showed at the July gallops that he will be suited to Greyville. He has improved tremendously this season and is a definite contender, although Charles Laird’s stable jockey, Anton Marcus, switched to Our Giant after Smart Banker was allocated a wide draw.
Ruling champion trainer Mike De Kock has three youngsters in the race.
Zirconeum and Forest Path have stamina doubts and their very wide draws won’t help. Bouquet-Garni will need a strong pace as he is a big, galloping type and might not have the turn of foot required off a slower pace.
Outcome has won ten times at Greyville. Any rainfall will be bad news for her. She looks capable of staying the distance and her form makes her one of the best outsiders.
Likeithot has popped up at big prices in big races before and his July gallop last week suggested he should peak at the right time for this race.
Buy And Sell is loaded with ability but is not too reliable and his form appears to be declining slightly.
Catmandu is capable of producing a devastating finish so could be an outside contender if close enough at the top of the straight.
London Guest enjoys this track and does just enough when he wins, so there is some hope for him in his first attempt in this company.
Aluminium has been supported in the betting but as a resolute galloper does not look suited to Greyville.
The rest can’t be fancied on form.
The selection is Pocket Power to beat home Big City Life and River Jetez, with Kapil and Our Giant next best.