Vodacom Durban July (Grade 1)

Greyville, Turf, 2200m / 2 July 2016

Few saw it coming. Even trainer Joey Ramsden was sceptical beforehand, even more so after The Conglomerate drew the extreme outside gate. But under a superb tactical ride from Piere Strydom the 20-1 shot pulled off a memorable win in Saturday’s Grade 1 Vodacom Durban July.
— Gold Circle

The Conglomerate - Vodacom Durban July (Grade 1)

Always handy in the Vodacom Durban July, Piere Strydom moved The Conglomerate through smoothly under hands and heels to hit the front 200m out and had the race in the bag in a matter of strides. The diminutive Marinaresco came from the rear of the field to finish a neck second. There was a scramble for the minor placings with Mac De Lago getting up late for third to deny It’s My Turn with rank outsider Saratoga Dancer also running on well in fifth.

Favourite, the grey filly Bela-Bela, was finishing off her race but never threatened. With the tote paying six places, she did just enough to save place punters.

It was a belated birthday present for an emotional Piere Strydom who turned 50 last month. It was also a fourth win for Strydom in the country’s richest race and his second from the widest draw after getting home narrowly aboard Pomodoro in 2012.

Ever the professional Strydom was offered the ride on Rising Sun Gold Challenge winner Mac De Lago who looked a better proposition, but he had already committed to ride for Ingrid and Markus Jooste and their racing manager Derek Brugman even though retained rider Anton Marcus had the pick of the rides.

“It was an exceptional ride,” said trainer Joey Ramsden, “Although he should thank his compadres in the weighing room. They let him in so easily. This is always a great day. I have been coming here for 18 years and it’s always great racing.”

He had a consoling word for the owners of second-placed Marinaresco. They must be sad and heartsore. Marsh (Shirtliff) and Bryn (Ressell) are good friends of mine and are great owners.”

A win for Marinaresco would have signed off on a memorable career for trainer Mike Bass who retires at the end of the month.

There are no immediate plans for The Conglomerate with the eLan Gold Cup and the Mike and Carol Bass Champion Stakes coming up at month’s end. “There’s no reason why he shouldn’t stay (the Gold Cup trip) but he will be at the top of the handicap. It’s up to Derek Brugman to decide.”

Dubai is an unlikely option. “I’m not quite sure he’s good enough,” Ramsden said.

Marinaresco must now rate as the best three-year-old in the country as he came from last at the top of the straight. He showed a tremendous turn of foot and ran past all but The Conglomerate with ease although Ramsden was never worried. “I think Piere knew he had it in the bag.”

Weiho Marwing gave Mac De Lago the thumbs up. “He ran a great race.” Brother Weichong Marwing said French Navy had every chance even though he missed the break but was not suited to the slow pace.

There were some hard luck stories. Solid Speed returned with a nosebleed while both Triple Crown hero Abashiri and St Tropez, stable companion to the winner, returned lame.

Inara - Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes (Grade 1)

Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes (Grade 1)

Star filly Inara finally broke her KwaZulu-Natal hoodoo and landed her fifth Grade 1 with victory in the Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes.

Unplaced last year behind Same Jurisdiction, she put the record straight as she ground out a win from off a strong pace to keep Piere Strydom at bay and a Grade 1 double as Olma finished with a rattle but too late to make a difference to the result. Pacemaker Bichette stayed on for third.

“Things didn’t go right for her last year,” said Candice Robinson assistant to her father Mike Bass who hands over the reins his daughter come the end of the month. This could well be Bass’s final Grade 1 of his career and winning rider Grant van Niekerk was profuse in his praise as it was Bass who recognised his talent and gave a raw jockey, just recently out of his apprenticeship, the plum job of stable jockey.

What made the win more special is that Inara has now won in three different centres, having won the Laurie Jaffee Empress Club Stakes at Turffontein back in April and three others in her home town.

Punta Arenas - Delta Airlines 2200m (Grade 3)

Delta Airlines 2200m (Grade 3)

Second in the Vodacom Durban July last year when trained by now retired Stan Elley, Punta Arenas did not make this year’s final field but made up for it by winning the “July” consolation, the Delta Air Lines 2200m. Now with Dennis Drier, Punta Arenas kept finding extra to deny the Mike de Kock pair of The Centenary and Alghadeer, the latter failing to reach his reserve when offered for auction last week.

Enaad - SABC Gold Vase

SABC Gold Vase (Grade 3)

Second and third in the Delta Airlines 2200m, De Kock trumped that with a 1-2-3-4 in the SABC Gold Vase over 3000m.

Kingston Mines was sent out as the hare and opened a good few lengths on his rivals coming up the hill at the 800m mark. He kept finding in the straight but was challenged by Smart Mart. These two looked to have the race to themselves before Enaad finished with a wet sail, running them both down in the shadow of the post with Kinaan finishing the best of the others to snatch fourth.

Final Judgement - Gold Circle Golden Slipper (Grade 2)

Gold Circle Golden Slipper (Grade 2)

Leading all the way, Final Judgement pulled of a 25-1 surprise in the Gold Circle Golden Slipper, rallying under a strong ride from Stuart Randolph to narrowly hold off the attentions of Dawn Calling and Sail. Odds-on favourite Maleficent, prominent throughout surrendering tamely to finish unplaced.

Jumping from pole position, Stuart Randloph had no hesitation taking Final Judgement to the lead with Muzi Yeni slotting Dawn Calling perfectly into position behind the favourite. Once in the straight Maleficent left Dawn Calling in the clear and she was left to chase home Final Judgement.

Zodiac Ruler - Durban Golden Horseshoe (Grade 2)

Durban Golden Horseshoe (Grade 2)

Two-year-old male form has been muddling but Zodiac Ruler put up his hand with a superb victory in the Durban Golden Horseshoe. The imposing Justin Snaith-trained colt was again slow out of the gate and found himself at the tail end of the field. “They went very fast. That suited me,” said rider Richard Fourie.

Lunar Rush - KZN Yearling Sale Million (Non-Black Type)

KZN Yearling Sale Million (Non-Black Type)

Duncan Howells was super confident of the chances of his filly Lunar Rush in the KZN Yearling Sale Million and so it proved. Anthony Delpech took the race by the scruff from the start and the result was never in doubt. This was the second win in the race for Howells who also scored with crack filly Same Jurisdiction two years back.