No shocks in Durban July field

No shocks in Durban July field


Brendan Gaillard: The 126th running of Africa’s richest and most prestigious horserace will be one to remember for several reasons and, no matter the outcome, history will be made on Saturday 2 July in the Grade 1 2200m Hollywoodbets Durban July at Hollywoodbets Greyville.

There were few – if any – surprises in the final field of 20 (which includes two reserve runners) revealed at yesterday’s field announcement.

However, apprentice Rachel Venniker will become the first female rider in the history of the race, after trainer Joe Soma confirmed the Champion Apprentice will partner Grade 1 SA Classic winner Red Saxon in the R5-million showpiece.

Soma pulled No 14 for the son of Red Ray in the barrier draw that was conducted after the final field announcement.

Justin Snaith has five runners in the race including former July winners Belgarion (2020) and two-time winner Do It Again (2018 and 2019) as well as dual L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate scorer Jet Dark, who carries top-weight 60kg and will be ridden by Bernard Fayd’Herbe who jets in from Mauritius to ride the high-class Trippi colt.   “I’m very happy with that,” said a typically bullish Snaith, after pulling gates No 11, No 2 and No 9 respectively for the aforementioned trio. His leading three-year-old Pomp And Power, winner of the Grade 1 Cape Derby and runner-up in the Grade 1 Daily News 2000, was drawn in gate No 8 with Hoedspruit in No 3 completing his quintet. Aldo Domeyer has been booked for the ride on veteran seven-year-old Do It Again, Richard Fourie sticks with Pomp And Power and Craig Zackey rides Hoedspruit. On his return from an injury-enforced layoff, Piere Strydom rides Belgarion in his bid to equal Anton Marcus’ record of riding five July winners.

Asked about his chances of reeling-in Paul Peter and defending his trainer’s championship, Snaith added: “I’ll have to win everything – the July, the Gold Cup, and everything in between. It’s not over until it’s over!”

With the lack of pace and absence of a proven frontrunner in the race, Snaith pointed out “It will be tactical, that’s all I’m saying,” keeping his cards close to his chest. “Maybe Mike (de Kock) will set the pace for us this time,” he joked, referring to the Daily News in which Pomp And Power led before De Kock-trained Safe Passage went on by to score.    

Paul Peter has a healthy advantage atop the National Trainers’ Log and will go some way to securing that maiden trainers’ title if Grade 1 Premier’s Champions Challenge hero Astrix can repeat the feat under JP van der Merwe.

Peter drew wide at No 17 for his charge but is not bothered by the wide berth, as Astrix overcame the widest No 12 gate when fourth in the Grade 1 Horse Chestnut Stakes over 1600m before his win in the Champions Challenge when jumping from stall No 10 in a 13-horse field.

“He’s versatile, he can take a seat or go forward. He’s consistent, he’s in good form and you can expect another honest showing,” said Peter.

Warren Kennedy, usually the “go-to guy” for Peter’s stable, rides Mike de Kock-trained Grade 1 SA Derby winner Aragosta, who was last seen finishing third behind stablemate Safe Passage in the Grade 1 Daily News 2000.

De Kock drew gate No 1 for Kennedy and the three-year-old son of Rafeef, but double-digit numbers for his other three runners.

Muzi Yeni, unsurprisingly, retains the ride on ruling favourite Safe Passage, who drew gate No 10, while S’manga Khumalo rides the only filly in the race, Sparkling Water, for De Kock from stall No 12.

The yard’s quartet is completed by Al Muthana, who booked his place with victory in the Grade 1 Gold Challenge last time out. Callan Murray flies in from Australia to ride but is drawn wide in No 16.

Speaking before the final field announcement and barrier draw, Vaughan Marshall confirmed that Linebacker will don blinkers again in the July after bouncing back to his best with the headgear on last time, when an eye-catching second to Al Muthana in the Gold Challenge.
“He settles, even with no pace in the race, I don’t think he’ll overdo it,” said the conditioner of last year’s July runner-up.

Having preferred a gate from No 5 to 10 for his charge, Marshall pulled No 4 for the Captain Of All gelding who will be ridden in the big race by Grant van Niekerk. “I would’ve bitten your hand off had you offered it to me,” he joked, before adding: “He’s in good form and will be spot on come race day, I’m confident he’ll be competitive – whether that’s good enough (to go one better), time will tell.”  

Last year’s winner Kommetdieding renews rivalry but is 1.5kg worse off this time around. He had to overcome the widest No 18 gate on his way to victory 12 months ago and jumps from No 13 in this year’s renewal. Gavin Lerena will again be aboard Kommetdieding for the father-daughter training partnership of Harold Crawford and Michelle Rix.

The latter was “delighted with that (draw),” while owner Ashwin Reynolds was more reserved in his reaction. “Look, we couldn’t have drawn any worse (than last year),” then added “No 13 – lucky for some, unlucky for others” hoping ‘Lady Luck’ smiles on him when the gates open come race time.


Hollywoodbets DURBAN JULY (Grade 1)(Open to all Horses) R5,000,000 2200m

1 - 1 ARAGOSTA (M F De Kock) W Kennedy 53.0 - 118
2 - 2 DO IT AGAIN (J S Snaith) A Domeyer 58.5 - 126
3 - 3 HOEDSPRUIT (J S Snaith) C Zackey 53.5 - 116
4 - 4 LINEBACKER (V H Marshall) G van Niekerk 58.5 - 126
5 - 5 PUERTO MANZANO (J J van Vuuren) R Danielson 55.5 - 120
6 - 6 ZAPATILLAS (B Crawford) L Mxothwa 53.0 - 118
7 - 7 WATERBERRY LANE (D Kannemeyer) K de Melo 53.0 - 117
8 - 8 POMP AND POWER (J S Snaith) R Fourie 53.0 - 118
9 - 9 JET DARK (J S Snaith) B Fayd'Herbe 60.0 - 129
10 - 10 SAFE PASSAGE (M F De Kock) M Yeni 54.5 - 122
11 - 11 BELGARION (J S Snaith) P Strydom 59.5 - 128
12 - 12 SPARKLING WATER (M F De Kock) S Khumalo 53.5 - 116
13 - 13 KOMMETDIEDING (H/M Crawford/Rix) G Lerena 60.0 - 129
14 - 14 RED SAXON (J A Soma) R A Venniker 53.0 - 118
15 - 15 SECOND BASE (J J van Vuuren) K Matsunyane 54.5 - 118
16 - 16 AL MUTHANA (M F De Kock) C Murray 58.0 - 125
17 - 17 ASTRIX (P A Peter) J P v'd Merwe 56.5 - 122
18 - 18 FLYING CARPET (S G Tarry) C Habib 53.5 - 116
Reserve Runners
19 - 0 AIRWAYS LAW (W A Nel) Reserve 1 53.0 - 108
20 - 0 NEBRAAS (S G Tarry) Reserve 2 54.5 - 118
Same Trainer: (1,10,12,16) (2,3,8,9,11) (5,15) (18,20) 

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