Durban July 2013
Durban July 2013

R3.5 MILLION VODACOM DURBAN JULY (Gr1)

Greyville, Turf, 2200m

6 July 2013

The Gold Challenge (Gr.1) is behind us, and last year’s Horse Of The Year will be this year’s Horse Of The Year. Variety Club came home like the champion he is, and if he gets his chance to travel to the Breeders Cup in the USA, he could still become Horse Of The Year somewhere else. Brave words, we know, but you have to see the movies to understand what we mean. With Shea Shea and Soft Falling Rain in Europe and the possibility of Variety Club making his way to the States, this could be South Africa’s moment, particularly with the prospect that the restraints on our exports will be lifted shortly.

Now it’s on to the biggest fish of the lot, the Vodacom Durban July (VDJ), the best sporting idea that anyone ever had in Natal, a race as old as the Kentucky Derby, older than most football clubs in Europe, older than Ashes cricket, older for that matter, than the nation of South Africa. That doesn’t make it immune from shock, though. The biggest “bomb” came with Mike de Kock’s scratching of the race favourite, Vercingetorix, on the grounds of a slight lameness and reservations about his stamina. The other ground-shaker involves the possible inclusion of Variety Club, who has not been asked to go this far since his defeat by Jackson in the Investec Cape Derby two seasons back. The reservation has always been his stamina, and while he’s the toast of the nation, it remains a fact. One thing his inclusion would do though, is cause a tremor in the weights, because outside of a few, most of the field would have to come under sufferance at the minimum weight of 53 kgs. That would benefit all the high-weighted older horses and the best three-year-olds, but it would catch most of the field on the wrong foot.

That aside and these two interventions excepted, the past two weekends have been decisive in providing clues to the final field and the pricing of bookmakers, who’ve suspended betting pending a decision on Variety Club. The Daily News, the Gold Challenge and Sunday’s Jubilee Handicap have always been good July pointers, and this year they appear to have played an even more significant role. Firstly, they’ve enhanced the prospects of three of the older horses, last year’s VDJ hero Pomodoro, the Champions Cup ace Heavy Metal (both owned by Chris van Niekerk and trained by Sean Tarry), and Seal, who manfully shouldered a welterweight to victory in the Jubilee at a trip well short of his best. The Daily News enhanced the reputations of the first four home (in order,) Vercingetorix, No Worries,Capetown Noir and Wylie Hall, all of whom were elevated to prominence in the betting. On the same day, the Woolavington Stakes for fillies was the stage for Do You Remember to stake her claim, while it told the Triple Crown queen, Cherry On The Top’sconnections, she was “over the top”. If Wylie Hall comes into the reckoning on his fast-finishing stretch run in the Daily News, then the Summerhill Ready To Run graduate, Gothic, on the strength of his runner-up effort to Wylie Hall in the S.A. Derby, must be in the thick of it, too.

Those that underperformed on the weekend include Hill Fifty Four, Knock On Wood andShogunnar (a below par fourth in the Jubilee), while Whiteline Fever probably told us he’d be the third string in Tarry’s bow behind Pomodoro and Heavy Metal. One horse who did come from left field however, was Astro News, who thundered home in the Cup Trial for Charles Laird and Fred Crabbia, and while the form of this race might prove to be suspect, that may have just got him over the line for a place in the final lineup at the possible expense of stable companion, among others, of Master Plan. Don’t write the son of Solskjaer, Shogunnar off yet. This fellow can read and write; how many times has he disappointed at Group 2 and 3 level, only to come thundering back in Group One? He seldom fails at the top level, and the VDJ could just be his stage.

From a Summerhill perspective, while you’d always have to be pleased to have three runners in the race (No Worries, Shogunnar and the S.A. Classic ace, Love Struck), the latter was below par in the Daily News. He was however, having his first run in a couple of months, his first since his Group One victory, and it needs to be remembered that he was below par in the Guineas in his run immediately before the Classic. He was sitting on 19 in the merit list last week, and his participation will depend upon the rumoured withdrawal of Jackson, Thunder Dance and Cherry On The Top, in order to retain his spot in the field.

The wild card remains though, and that is whether or not the Horse Of The Year will be asked by his connections to step up for the extra 600 metres of the July. If he does, he’ll most certainly take his place at the top of the weights (60kgs) and on merit rating, that means that last year’s winner, Pomodoro, would then carry 57.5kgs with the top rated three-year-olds, coming in at the minimum for their age of 53.5kgs, as we’ve mentioned.

Whatever the outcome, it’s shaping up as a massive contest between the new generation and the old, the energetic and the enterprising, and envitably, between the well-drawn and the not-so-well drawn. Not that the draw worried Pomodoro (20) last year; as they say in Oz, “No Worries, mate”.

R3.5 MILLION

VODACOM DURBAN JULY (Grade 1)

Greyville, Turf, 2200m

6 July 2013

Entries, Merit Ratings and Weights as at 11 June 2013

Horse

MR

Kg

Trainer

JACKSON

113

60.0

Brett Crawford

POMODORO

113

60.0

Sean Tarry

HEAVY METAL

112

59.5

Sean Tarry

HILL FIFTY FOUR

112

59.5

Vaughan Marshall

WHITELINE FEVER

112

59.5

Sean Tarry

MASTER PLAN

110

58.5

Alec Laird

SEAL

110

58.5

Gavin van Zyl

ICE MACHINE

109

58.0

Garth Puller

BRAVURA

108

57.5

Joey Ramsden

ASTRO NEWS

107

57.0

Charles Laird

TRIBAL DANCE

107

57.0

Vaughan Marshall

RUN FOR IT

106

56.5

Justin Snaith

SHOGUNNAR

106

56.5

Gavin van Zyl

THUNDER DANCE

106

56.5

Brett Crawford

ZAMBUCCA

107

56.5

Saeed Mohideen

BULSARA

105

56.0

Gavin van Zyl

TAIPAN

105

56.0

Dean Kannemeyer

E-JET

104

55.5

Sean Tarry

GOLD ONYX (NZ)

104

55.5

Sean Tarry

CAPETOWN NOIR

107

55.0

Dean Kannemeyer

NO WORRIES

107

55.0

Gavin van Zyl

WYLIE HALL (AUS)

107

55.0

Weiho Marwing

PESSOA

103

55.0

Alec Laird

DO YOU REMEMBER

106

54.5

Geoff Woodruff

JET BELLE

105

54.0

Robbie Sage

ROCK COCKTAIL (AUS)

105

54.0

Mike de Kock

JET EXPLORER

101

54.0

Justin Snaith

SMANJEMANJE

101

54.0

Tyrone Zackey

KING OF PAIN

104

54.0

Joey Ramsden

PIERRE JOURDAN

100

53.5

Gary Alexander

POTALA PALACE

100

53.5

Mike Azzie

PUNTA ARENAS

100

53.5

Stan Elley

RIVER CROSSING

100

53.5

Mike Bass

LOVE STRUCK

103

53.0

Paul Lafferty

TELLINA

103

53.0

Geoff Woodruff

YORKER

102

53.0

Geoff Woodruff

GLORIOUS JET

98

53.0

St John Gray

GOLDEN CHATEAU (AUS)

98

53.0

Duncan Howells

WAGNER

98

53.0

Joe Soma

GOTHIC

97

53.0

Kumaran Naidoo

PENHALIGON

97

53.0

Alyson Wright

PUTNEY FLYER

96

53.0

Weiho Marwing

WAR HORSE

96

53.0

Corne Spies

AMERICAN STORM

95

53.0

Spike Lerena

LOCKHEED JETSTAR

95

53.0

Geoff Woodruff

PATRIOTIC REBEL

95

53.0

Mike de Kock

RED FORT

95

53.0

Geoff Woodruff

SABADELL

95

53.0

Geoff Woodruff

TRUE MASTER

95

53.0

Justin Snaith

WILD ONE

95

53.0

Jeff Freedman

YER-MAAN

95

53.0

St John Gray

ABERCROMBIE

94

53.0

Mike Bass

FOURTH ESTATE

93

53.0

Colin Scott

GENERAL SHERMAN

93

53.0

Sean Tarry

SILENT PARTNER

92

53.0

Mike de Kock

TERRITORIAL WATERS

92

53.0

Tony Rivalland

BIG CITY ANGEL

91

53.0

Gavin van Zyl

MASTER SABINA

90

53.0

Geoff Woodruff

MEISSA

89

53.0

Gary Alexander

SAFE HOUSE

89

53.0

Mike Azzie

HAMMIE’S DYNASTY

87

53.0

Mike Bass

SILVER SPRING

77

53.0

Gavin van Zyl

DREAMBYTHEMASTER

76

53.0

Charles Laird

VIVA MARIA

97

52.0

Mike de Kock

CHERRY ON THE CAKE

94

52.0

Gavin van Zyl

PRICELESS JEWEL

86

52.0

Adam Marcus

Summerhill entries denoted by yellow

Declarations : Monday 24 June 2013

Final Field and Barrier Draw : Tuesday 25 June 2013

Gallops : Thursday 25 June 2013

Vodacom Durban July : Saturday 6 July 2013

www.vodacomdurbanjuly.co.za

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