Pierre Jourdan's Vodacom Durban July Gallop
Pierre Jourdan's Vodacom Durban July Gallop

Click above to watch Pierre Jourdan’s Vodacom Durban July Gallop…

(Image : Vodacom Durban July - Footage : Andrew Bon)


Greyville, Turf, 2200m

7 July 2012

David Thiselton
David Thiselton

David Thiselton

The MercuryPierre Jourdan (PJ) will have another bite at a fairytale victory in Saturday’s Vodacom Durban July and trainer Gary Alexander said the chief reason he wanted to win it was for his father Duncan, who went close a few times as a jockey.

Alexander reckoned the five-year-old Parade Leader gelding was moving better than he had been this time last year and was very happy with his preparation. “He’s had a very good prep,” said Alexander, talking from Summerveld, where Pierre Jourdan has been based for the Champions Season. Pierre Jourdan has only had one race in Durban this season, when an eyecatching third in the Grade 1 Gold Challenge over 1600m on June 9. However, Alexander said, “He had a hard July gallop. He didn’t play and what Robbie (Fradd) was particularly pleased about was that he was pulling him up the hill and really wanted to do it.”

“He doesn’t take a lot. You only have to have him well on the day and he does the rest. That gallop has brought him on nicely.” Looking back on his career Alexander said that the way Pierre Jourdan had won the Grade 2 Gauteng Guineas and the SA Classic as a three-year-old had shown that he had the ability at the highest level. “But he then broke down in the Summer Cup. Since then he’s been on and off and we have to get him to move well on the day.” Pierre Jourdan ran a cracker last year, despite looking around at the new surrounds, and ran on strongly in the straight to finish just one length behind Igugu, who is regarded as one of the great winners of the race.

Last year Pierre Jourdan was drawn four, a lot further in than his 13 draw this year, but Alexander reckoned this could be a plus. “Last year he only just missed all the trouble, but he did get cut into from behind. The July is always going to be rough and rather be out than be knocked around. He has had one or two problems and being knocked won’t help.”

Alexander reckoned Pierre Jourdan had the right jockey aboard in Robbie Fradd. July temperament “He knows him well and gets on well with him. Having him here to work him has also helped. He also has the necessary big match July temperament.” Fradd has won the July twice and a win this year would equal the nine year gap between his previous wins in 1994, when Space Walk was promoted after an objection, and 2003 on Dynasty. However, Alexander is concerned about Pierre Jourdan’s topweight of 60kg. “The weight is our biggest concern. If there were horses like Pocket Power in the field he would be carrying 56kg and Jackson would be carrying 55kg. Giving weight to the field is never easy in any big race.”

Pierre Jourdan has disappointed twice in big races. However, he had excuses both times. He was wide and chased up the hill when dropping away in last season’s Summer Cup and didn’t pull up well after not striding out in the Horse Chestnut Stakes in March.

The latter race led to Pierre Jourdan being auctioned to dissolve a partnership and Alexander had to go to R1,6 million to buy him back before syndicating him.

That price was a far cry from the R60,000 the Summerhill-bred was bought for at the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale of 2008. In 2010, when Pierre Jourdan was bidding for the triple crown, there were even people outside of racing that knew his name, an unusual occurrence in a country that doesn’t have as strong a racing culture as nations like Australia, England and Ireland. His rags to riches story earned him the nickname “the people’s horse” and there will be many rooting for him on Saturday. Duncan Alexander will be among them, for not only did he have to settle for a family second last year, but rode Chichester to second place in 1970, Coast Guard to third place in 1969, Doctor John to fourth in 1963, while in 1965 his mount Rose Knight, who was very well and quietly fancied, fell.

Gary admitted he was not envisaging the big time when he put up his hand for Pierre Jourdan at the Sales. “He had a lot of the right things I look for in the same way that some of the other cheap ones I’ve bought like Icy Air, Imperious Sue and Tommy Hotspur had.”

Extract from Gold Circle