Jack Milner: Trainer Vaughan Marshall has had great success over the year but victory in the Vodacom Durban July has eluded him.
He goes into Saturday’s Grade 1 race over 2200m at Greyville with two highly regarded three-year-olds – Linebacker and Rascallion.
But who does Marshall feel will have that winning edge. “I’d just like to win it. It doesn’t matter which one!”
Linebacker has undoubtedly been the pick of the pair so far and has managed to finish one place ahead of his stable companion on all six occasions they have met.
However, as Marshall points out, in the Daily News 2000, nothing closed in quicker than Rascallion, who finished 0.70 lengths behind Linebacker. “If that had been any further, he would have won it.
“Linebacker is a bit of an anomaly. He is by a sprinting sire out of sprinting mare, but he has been brilliant up to 2000m. Rascallion has some staying blood. He’s very honest, and over 2200m he could turn out to be the better of the two.”
Despite his excellent record, and his last three victories comprising the Grade 1 Cape Derby, the Grade 2 KZN Guineas and the Grade 1 Daily News 2000, Linebacker has yet to race outside his age group.
“Yes, it is the first time he is running against older horses, but he is a big, strong horse and I don’t think it will be a problem,” said Marshall.
“He has matured, and Grant (Van Niekerk) rides him very well.”
Rascallion has run against his elders and finished a 3.05-length fourth behind Crown Towers in The Sledgehammer over 1750m at Scottsville. “That was my mistake,” said Marshall. “I should not have run him in that race. It was just five weeks after he had been gelded and it was too soon.”
Was does delight Marshall is that his two runners are drawn No 6 and No 7. “I think that’s ideal. I would not want to be drawn on the inside or the outside. I’m happy to be drawn where I am. That gives the jockeys the opportunity to get them out and place them.”
And is he happy the pair are drawn alongside one another? “They do know each other very well, so it might put them in a bit of a comfort zone,” he quipped. “But not much else.”
He is also not too worried about the pace. “I suspect it will be an honest pace – not too quick or too slow, and that should ensure a clean-run race.”
And the dangers? “You’ve got to respect Rainbow Bridge, who is a top-class horse, and Got The Greenlight, who looks very well weighted.”
Marshall also gives chances to some of his other runners on the day. “I think Black Knapp has a big chance in Race 3. I also like Silver Operator in Race 10. I’ve finally got him right after a long layoff and I’m expecting a decent run, while Gainsford, who was second reserve in Race 9, has got in and I think he can run well. He’s decent, but he has just been so unlucky recently.”