Dubbo (AUS) 031 362 1110
Newmarket (UK) 031 362 1110
Globe Derby (AUS) 031 362 1111
Newcastle (UK) 031 362 1111
Champ De Mars (MAU) 031 362 1101/1102/1103
Curragh (IRE) 031 362 1101
Doncaster (UK) 031 362 1107
Lingfield (UK) 031 362 1104
The Vodacom Durban July gallops were enjoyed by an enthusiastic crowd yesterday and all of the horses worked well.
The first pair out were French Navy and Samurai Blade and trainer Sean Tarry was pleased with both. Lyle Hewitson works Samurai Blade often and described his last two pieces of work as fantastic, adding yesterday’s work had been the best he had felt the horse.
The second favourite Black Arthur was next out and worked exceptionally well. He was clearly enjoying himself. Trainer Justin Snaith confirmed the horse had been a bit above himself, having not raced since winning the Canon Guineas in early May, so this should bring him spot on for the race.
Later, his stablemate and July favourite Bela-Bela strode out well and her lovely action included her usual rhythmic nodding of the head, an indication she was enjoying herself.
The other Snaith pair It’s My Turn and Dynamic were not asked to do a lot but pleased their respective big race riders Richard Fourie and Lyle Hewitson.
The Mike Bass-trained Marinaresco put up a tremendous gallop and showed just how well he can quicken.
Ten Gun Salute was another who quickened well and the gallop pleased trainer Duncan Howells.
The latter’s stablemate Saratoga Dancer also strode out well.
Solid Speed worked on the poly together with his Dean Kannemeyer-trained stablemate Mambo Mime and both did well, crossing the line as one.
Joey Ramsden’s aim was to show the public the well-being of his pair and them moving well and he felt both The Conglomerate on the poly and St. Tropez on the turf achieved that.
The Gavin can Zyl-trained Rocketball was a bit keen when the stable companion kept it at a crawl early on, but he stretched well in the straight and is looking in fine shape.
Abashiri showed his giant stride and was looking well. His Mike Azzie-trained stable companion Rabada cantered slowly at Summerveld, having been excused from the Greyville gallops as he runs on Sunday in the KZN Breeders Million Mile.
Mac De Lago worked on the poly and wasn’t asked to a lot but strode out well.
Reserve runner Deputy Jud was not asked to do a lot.
Master Sabina put in a good televised gallop on the Highveld with a companion.
In the ensuing panel discussion at Greyville yesterday Kevin Shea made Solid Speed and French Navy his best value bets, Garth Puller opted for Black Arthur and St. Tropez and Track and Ball bookmaker Pierrick Maujean selected Solid Speed and Mambo Mime.
However, the July beans indicate the race rests between Abashiri, Rabada and Mac De Lago.
Derek Brugman has given his side of the Rabada saga after trainer Mike Azzie was forthright in saying he did not want to run the Vodacom Durban July contestant in this Sunday’s KZN Breeders Million Mile.
Azzie believes the three-year-old has a big chance in the July due to a preparation which has gone perfectly, on top of the horse’s obvious ability as a twice Gr 1 winner. He is also convinced Rabada will stay the trip.
He pointed out little had gone right for Rabada in the Gr 1 Daily News 2000 and yet he had still won the race.
Azzie’s bullishness will be dampened by running Rabada in the Million Mile, as he believes this will upset the horse’s July preparation and affect his chances of winning the big race.
However, Brugman, racing manager to champion owner Markus Jooste, said Rabada’s chief mission, from at least two months ago, had been the Million Mile. The July was always just going to be a bonus.
Brugman often applies the adage “keep yourself in the best company and your horses in the worst” and said this was a case in point.
He said Azzie, due to the excellent preparation Rabada had been enjoying, recently requested a diversion from the original plan and asked whether the Million Mile could be skipped. However, Brugman had simply made a decision to stick to the original plan.
He is not regarding the Million Mile as a foregone conclusion and recognises the tough task on paper Rabada has with the like of Malak El Moolook and Intergalactic, due to the structure of the weights.
However, as it is a limited race with a first prize of R625,000, he and the owners believe it an opportunity too good to miss, especially when considering Rabada still has his entire four-year-old career ahead of him.
Brugman said Rabada would be monitored after the Million Mile and a decision would then be made whether to run him in the July or not.
However, he added no rash decisions would be made and they would not run the horse in the July just for the sake of it.
Punters who backed Rabada after the final field announcement will get their money back if he is scratched.
Meanwhile, first reserve runner Trophy Wife did her compulsory July gallop at Randjesfontein earlier this week, but it was unfortunately not recorded and this was apparently due to a hitch with the camera.
Andrew Fortune and the weighing room scale have fought a three decade long battle with the former champion jockey most often on the wrong end of exchanges and also officials.
The following epic saga of jockey versus scale will play out over the next two weeks after Sean Tarry declared Fortune on Samurai Blade for the Gr1 Vodacom Durban July.
Fortune is most comfortable at the top end of the weights but he has shown in the past that given incentive he has the willpower to lay off the pasta and 55,5kg is within his capabilities – just!
Fortune’s booking could also be a master stroke by Tarry given that many pundits have expressed fears that there is no obvious pacemaker in the race. There is no finer judge of pace than Fortune and while he will make the most of his chances – there are no ‘gimme’s’ in Fortune’s resume – he is likely to ride at a pace to suit his mount and quite possibly top weight and stable companion to Samurai Blade, French Navy.
Tarry’s stable jockey and champion elect S’manga Khumalo was widely expected to be aboard Trophy Wife after Weichong Marwing kept the ride on French Navy but there may still be more intrigue to unfold before Saturday week.
Tarry was no doubt expecting Trophy Wife to make the final cut and was outspoken in his criticism of the selection panel. “Not only was she beaten only two lengths by Met winner Smart Call at Turffontein in November, she was third behind the same horse in last season’s Woolavington and, more recently, won the Gr 2 Gerald Rosenberg Stakes – tell me how they can leave her out?”
Trophy Wife is first reserve so much could hang on how the Rabada saga plays out.
Mike Azzie made no bones at the function to announce the July field that he was unhappy in being forced to run the Gr1 Daily News winner in both the KwaZulu-Natal Million Mile this coming Sunday and the July. He may still get his way should Rabada contest Sunday’s race.
That would leave MJ Byleveld with a hard-luck story as he has been booked for Rabada in the July but it would open the way for Khumalo to partner Trophy Wife.
Adding fuel to the intrigue is that Anton Marcus, successful on Rabada in the Daily News, passed him over opting for the mount on the relatively unexposed St Tropez. Winner of the East Coast Derby in PE, he was a smart second to Solid Speed – beaten a neck – and ahead of Dynamic and The Conglomerate in the G2 Betting World 1900. The Betting World 1900 had somewhat lost its reputation as a July pointer until last year when Power King and Punta Arenas, second and third respectively, finished first and second in the July.
Piere Strydom was offered the ride on Gr1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge winner Mac De Lago by Weiho Marwing but because of prior commitments finds himself aboard The Conglomerate, winless this season but slowly finding his best form.
By all accounts current champion jockey Gavin Lerena’s stint in Hong Kong is all but over and he heads back to partner Geoff Woodruff’s runner Master Sabina.
Duncan Howells was pleasantly surprised that Saratoga Dancer made the field and was quick to book rising star Craig Zackey, a rider he mentored in his apprenticeship before his move to Gauteng.
Justin Snaith, with four runners in the race and three top flight jockeys in Anthony Delpech, Dougie Whyte and Richard Fourie, has placed huge faith in apprentice sensation Lyle Hewitson. Barely a year into his apprenticeship, Snaith has booked him for Dynamic and with his mount being drawn in pole, his mettle will be properly tested.
By Andrew Harrison
The Alec Laird-trained Bezanova is the defending champion in the KZN Breeders Million Mile, which is to be run at Greyville on Sunday, and will have a big chance if at his best.
However, the Alec Laird yard are more hopeful than bullish.
The Million Mile has always been an intriguing race due to the weight conditions, which go on number of wins plus Graded penalties.
Bezanova is treated the same as last year, because 2kg must be added for his win of last year’s event, but on the other hand his Gr 2 penalty falls away as his Charity Mile victory happened more than 18 months ago. However, the weights had to be dragged up to 60kg last year, and he carried 59kg, whereas this year he is only carrying 58kg. He was reported not striding out when running way below par in the Gr 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge two weekends ago, a race he had finished a 0,9 length third in last year.
Laird said, “It is hard to explain the run, he took hold of the bit, then had to be eased and from then on took no interest. He has not been at his best, but he looks good, everything is fine and he has been working well, so we will see. But it will be hard to beat Rabada.”
A big plus for Bezanova is Weichong Marwing up and he also has a plum draw of two.
Rabada is the highest rated horse in the field, the distance is ideal and he has a fair draw of five with Anton Marcus up.
However, he is not the best weighted horse and is in fact officially 3,5kg under sufferance with the Sean Tarry-trained filly Intergalactic and 2,5kg under sufferance with the Tarry-trained Malak El Moolook.
On the other hand Rabada could be better than his 106 merit rating suggests, especially when considering his last two runs. Things did not go ideally for him when pipped in the Gr 2 Canon Guineas by the ruling Vodacom Durban July favourite Black Arthur, while Anton Marcus dropped the whip just after turning for home in the Gr 1 Daily News 2000 and Rabada still managed to win.
Intergalactic has seemed to get going too late in her last three runs which have been from 1600m to 2000m. However, this will be her third run at Greyville and she is drawn in pole, so has a chance with her weight advantage, although it has to be said J&B Met winning jockey JP van der Merwe is not in the mint of form at present.
The Tarry stable elect is not necessarily Malak El Moolook, who has stable first choice jockey S’Manga Khumalo up, because Khumalo would not be able to make the 50kg weight of Intergalactic. Malak El Moolook is distance suited, having run his best races in the Gr 2 Gauteng Guineas and Gr 2 Canon Guineas, while his three runs over 1800m have all been disappointing. He was doing his best work late in the Canon Guineas when just 2,05 lengths behind Black Arthur and is now better drawn. He is 7kg better off with Rabada for a 1,55 length beating in the Canon Guineas, so could be the one to beat.
No Worries is the best weighted older horse and won this race two years ago. He is officially 3kg under sufferance with Intergalactic. However, he has lost some of his speed and appears to be better over further these days.
Way Of Light is the topweight and is 6,5kg under sufferance with Intergalactic. However, he is a talented sort with a fine turn of foot and, if he can be settled quicker than he was last time out in the Cup Trial, his finishing effort could make him a threat.
Just Like Magic beat July runner Ten Gun Salute over this trip at Scottsville in a maiden last October, but is 10,5kg under sufferance with Intergalactic.
Roy’s Winter Patch and Son Of Silver have some talent but are officially the worst and second worst weighted runners in the field.
Humidor has a lot of speed, so there is a stamina doubt, and he is officially 10,5kg under sufferance with Intergalactic.
The second best weighted runners have won the last two renewals of this race and the trend could continue as Malak El Moolook looks the one to side with and he could be followed home by Rabada, with Intergalactic, Way Of Light and Bezanova next best.
By David Thiselton
Most French Navy fans would have been thrilled to see the strapping Sean Tarry-trained horse land a seemingly plum draw of four for the Vodacom Durban July, but jockey Weichong Marwing had in fact been hoping for a wide draw.
A wider draw would have given Marwing more options.
He explained in a slow paced race it was sometimes easier to find a position from a wide draw. A lot of the wider drawn horses will be attempting to get to the front down the back straight and should be able to achieve this in a slow paced race. Once they are ahead they are able to move inward towards the rail. They can then relax and wait for the next wave of wider drawn horses to come around them. Thereby, in a slow paced race, a widely drawn horse could possibly find itself in a handy position with cover.
Meanwhile, with each horse which has come around the field to the front, the well drawn horses will have been shuffled backwards. Of course the well drawn horses can prevent all of this from happening by holding their positions. However, they would need to use up energy to keep the wider horses out, and this is especially the case at Greyville because the back straight is uphill.
French Navy’s problem is his relative lack of gate speed. From a low draw it looks likely he has little option but to sit at the back early and hope for a fast pace. However, from a wide draw Marwing would have been able to drop him out if adjudging the pace to be quick, or send him up there if adjudging it to be slow. As the great jockey Michael “Muis” Roberts once said, the first fifty metres of a race are in fact the most important.
Marwing was philosophical. He said the draw was a factor which could not be changed and he would simply have to re-plan his strategy.
In the two renewals of the July to date which have been run on the narrower track, the horse drawn in barrier six crossed the line first, i.e. Wylie Hall and Power King respectively. Draw six this year belongs to the Tarry-trained Samurai Blade.
However, Legislate was awarded the race in the boardroom two years ago at the expense of Wylie Hall and he jumped from draw eleven. If the reserve runners come out, the horse drawn eleven this year will be Rabada. The latter is engaged to run in the KZN Million Mile this Sunday.
The last horse to take in both the Million Mile and the July was Love Struck in 2013 and he finished downfield in both races.
Rabada’s trainer Mike Azzie was forthright and said he believed this horse had had an outstanding July preparation, provided he did not run in the Million Mile on Sunday. However, the decision to run him on Sunday is out of his hands.
By David Thiselton
The final pieces of the Vodacom Durban July jigsaw have been put together as Anton Marcus has been declared to ride the Joey Ramsden-trained St. Tropez, Piere Strydom has been declared to ride the Ramsden-trained The Conglomerate, MJ Byleveld has been declared to ride the Mike Azzie-trained Rabada, Andrew Fortune has been declared to ride the Sean Tarry-trained Samurai Blade, S’Manga Khumalo has been declared to ride the first reserve, the Tarry-trained Trophy Wife, and Craig Zackey has been declared to ride the Duncan Howells-trained Saratoga Dancer.
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