Click above to watch the 2011 Vodacom Durban July (Gr1)
(Image : John Lewis - Footage : SABC 3)
VODACOM DURBAN JULY (Grade 1)
Greyville, Turf, 2200m,
2 July 2011
If you’re in the horse game, the first thing they ask you is: “Have you won the July?” And this year’s 115th edition ranked with the best. Record crowds, record turnovers, and fifteen equine millionaires stepped out of the tunnel into the sunshine of the Greyville circuit. It was a sports presenter’s dream. The quality of the field all but guaranteed the heroics, and the fans were tasting them already.
In the end, the fairytale unravelled itself. A princess by birth, Igugu was crowned Queen of The Turf. Pierre Jourdan was equally heroic in a history-making Summerhill exacta. This was the fourth “July” for a racehorse known to these pastures, but the first “one-two”. That saga was born as long ago as 1946, which tells you how tough it is to be one of the twenty at the start.
Last year, Pierre Jourdan was the nation’s biggest earner. This year, Igugu holds the distinction with a haul exceeding R5million. In common, they’re both graduates of the Emperors Palace Ready to Run. What separates them, is their histories.
In the past twelve months, Igugu has dominated our sport in the way Muhammad Ali dominated the heavyweights in the 1970s. The analogy is not meant to be trite. Like Ali, Igugu is that rare phenomenon: a natural. Which is to say, she makes the hard things look easy, the mundane look graceful; the qualities which in any sport, distinguishes the gifted from the sloggers. When Igugu turns on the afterburners, she leaves the field in the same way Usain Bolt exits a bunch of neighbourhood joggers.
“PJ” on the other hand, isn’t that big, his parents aren’t famous and he didn’t cost much at the sales, but he doesn’t know any of this. PJ inspires affection. He has come to be loved before he is admired. Because of the way he does things, he makes people feel good and the sport seem grander. His connections are from a good old Catholic family, and it’s said the parish priest consented to bless the horse’s season. In the past few months alone, he’s added another million to his racing resumé. The priest took joy in his affirmation of the power of the Lord. We took the 10/1.
And with his heroics in the July, PJ delivered up another Championship for the champions. It is one of racing’s truisms: you never get used to winning. It is always fresh, always intoxicating. Even when it’s your seventh on the trot.
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