VODACOM DURBAN JULY (Grade 1)
Greyville, Turf, 2200m
5 July 2014
It takes 133 seconds of rushing adrenaline, thundering hooves and screaming voices for it all to be settled. After weeks of anticipation and argument, South Africa’s premier race will be over shortly before 4.30pm tomorrow. That’s when parties and hard-luck whinges start.
The 2014 Durban July has one of the best-quality fields in many a year and finding a winner is not easy. As always, a clutch of good three-year-olds is up against top-class older horses, with the generational guessing game as perplexing as ever. Throw in four above-average fillies of varying age and the poser gets even more head-scratching.
Blindfold and dart might be the way to go.
It was ever thus, and it’s why we love this event - one that every owner, breeder, trainer, jockey, groom and punter wants to win it above all others.
There’s no Mr Nice Guy in this contest. Jockeys are not known for their mild manners, but an opportunity to get into the history books makes them even more gung-ho than usual. Passage will be rough.
The runner rundown: (number, name, draw, jockey, trainer, odds)
1 KING OF PAIN 13 Bernard Fayd’Herbe (Ramsden) 33/1 - If he wins we break out the anti-inflammatories - and something strong to wash them down with.
2 CAPETOWN NOIR 15 Karl Neisius (Kannemeyer) 10/1 - This colt has speed so electric it could light up a Mother City. But will the super miler stay the distance - or fold like a beach deckchair?
3 TELLINA 18 Gavin Lerena (Woodruff) 40/1 - We hear tell he’s out-classed, out of form and drawn out on the Marine Parade.
4 WHITELINE FEVER 7 S’Manga Khumalo (Tarry) 25/1 - First black rider to win the July and will soon be our first black champion jockey. One can’t sniff at the gelding’s chances, especially with the trainer and owner going for a July hat-trick.
5 WYLIE HALL 8 MJ Byleveld (Marwing) 28/1 - Classy, but has taken rather a lot of our money in the past.
6 ESPUMANTI 2 Anthony Delpech (De Kock) 12/1 - Champion trainer Mike de Kock is a major factor in this filly’s favour. Others are good draw, smart form and a jockey bidding to set a new July record of five wins. But can she beat the hot-shot colts?
7 PUNTA ARENAS 16 Stuart Randolph (Elley) 28/1 - Punt at your own risk.
8 CHERRY ON THE TOP 17 Weichong Marwing (Ferraris) 20/1 - Superb filly. A debut July win would be a cherry on top of the very long career of a wily 82-year-old trainer. A wide draw is the negative.
9 LEGISLATE 14 Richard Fourie (Snaith) 9/2 - A youngster laying down the law, big-time - and that’s just the trainer. Horse and jockey are also uppity. Hard as we try, we can’t ignore them.
10 LOUIS THE KING 10 Kevin Shea (Woodruff) 4/1 - Rags-to-riches. Working-class hero. Commoner king. Lovely personality, top trainer, experienced jockey, connections shortening the odds… what more could we ask of a king with a Triple Crown?
11 RAKE’S CHESTNUT 5 Anton Marcus (Woodruff) 15/2 - Has shown enough speed in a few starts to suggest he’s inherited plenty from his great father, Horse Chestnut. The master jockey is another aiming for a record fifth July. Big chance.
12 HALVE THE DEFICIT 9 Piere Strydom (Tarry) 12/1 - Trainer and owner go for a July hat-trick. Add the champion jockey, a handy weight and a decent draw and he has half a chance.
13 JET BELLE 19 Muzi Yeni (Kotzen) 55/1 - Not of this ball.
14 CAPTAIN AMERICA 11 Sean Cormack (Crawford) 12/1 - Superhero powers must be summoned to overcome his fellow three-year-olds.
15 IN THE FAST LANE 4 Grant van Niekerk (Snaith) 12/1 - Perhaps, but she could easily be passed by quicker males travelling in the inside lane. Fillies don’t have a great July record.
16 FUTURA 3 Glen Hatt (Crawford) 7/1 - Might have a future, but hasn’t beaten much of note thus far. Feather weight and good draw.
17 READYTOGORIGHTNOW 1; 18 POMODORO 6; 19 MASTER SABINA 12; 20 DYLAN’S PROMISE 20
10 Louis The King, 8 Cherry On The Top, 11 Rake’s Chestnut, 9 Legislate, 2 Capetown Noir