A festive early morning crowd endorsed the undeniable public relations value of the official Vodacom Durban July gallops held at the big race venue on Thursday. Free sticky buns, hot coffee and some of our best horses once again proved to be a winning trifecta. But with the understandably varying levels of commitment from the trainers, we really learnt very little when it came to finding a likely winner.
— Sporting Post

The public gallops are a condition of acceptance for Africa's greatest horseracing event and if nothing else, we were given the opportunity to debate and, at the same time, gaze our eyes upon the physical external well-being of seventeen horses - with the obvious choices in good order, and the likes of Ice Machine and The Conglomerate putting their hands up from the back row.

Last term's major hardluck story on four legs, Wylie Hall, is a different horse this time round and he galloped under jockey Bernard Fayd'herbe with the seasoned hardknocker Isobar (Chris Taylor) from the 800m on the turf.

Beaten in the boardroom in 2014, Wylie Hall looked magnificent and stretched clear to head his companion by four lengths. Fayd'herbe summed things up, confirming that he was pleased and announced that "we're confident."

That's fighting talk - and so they should be - he has won his last two feature appearances in succession and nothing would please owner Michael Leaf more than for his soon-to-be Cheveley stallion to go out in a hat-trick blaze of glory.

He ran the 800m to finish in 54,08 seconds and the final stretch at a relaxed 24,25 seconds.

Certainly, if karma and want has anything to do with it, Wylie Hall must go close. Ironically, the horse lease likely to run at this stage, in second reserve Mac De Lago, clocked the fastest 400m to finish of the entire gallops.

The son of Encosta De Lago was ridden by Fayd'herbe and worked with the well-performed Fulcrum (Chris Taylor) over 1400m on the polytrack. He registered 43,70 seconds for the 800m to 400m and a snappy 21,34 seconds fro the final 400m.

If the gallops are to prove any value in terms of statistical comparatives, then the fact that eight runners opted for the polytrack rather than the turf, would also have helped no definitive conclusions being reached.

And the times will also be in some doubt as hand-held stopwatches with flag drops, where some horses commence with a canter, are inaccurate by their very nature.

Topweight Futura was the first out and the son of Dynasty stretched well under big-race jockey Sean Cormack on the turf over 1600m. The 9-2 chance, and impressive specimen, changed legs late in the gallop, only to be eased down late.

"He didn't overdo it and stretched beautifully. He has had a phenomenal prep," quipped Cormack.

SA champion trainer Justin Snaith, bidding for a July double, and a third win in the race, didn't mince his words about the portion of the track that had been assigned to the gallops.
"I am disappointed as these are Gr1 horses and we are right out on the outside fence. We couldn't be closer to the road if they tried. I am checking Futura's soundness now," he said. Futura completed the 800m finish in 50,70 seconds and the 400m to finish in 25,16 seconds.

Another horse who was pushed and stretched out beautifully was Joey Ramsden's 20-1 shot The Conglomerate, who worked over about 1400m on the polytrack, with Anton Marcus in the irons. "That was a mindblowing gallop," suggested the vastly experienced Kevin Shea, who announced his retirement earlier this week after 27 years in the irons.

Young Chad Schofield will have his first July ride on The Conglomerate.

Trainer Joey Ramsden, in something of an about turn from his disappointment at the July Draw ceremony on Tuesday, where he pulled the rank outside 20 barrier gate, said that he was 'not worried' about The Conglomerate's draw. "We have a top jockey engaged - and the draw is in our favour," he suggested.

Shea did not agree with Ramsden's fighting talk and gamesmanship: "That's a bad draw. Whichever way you look at it." he said.

The Conglomerate clocked the 800m to finish in 44,95 seconds and the final 400m in 21,99 seconds.

Both of the Mike de Kock runners worked well on the poly, with the grey flyer Majmu impressing when disposing of Anjaal.

"If that doesn't give you goosebumps, nothing will," said Kevin Shea. And he should know.

Roll on 4 July!

Extract from Sporting Post
Wylie Hall, Legislate & Futura / Vodacom Durban July 2014 / SAH Racing (p)

Vodacom Durban July Gallops 2015