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Durban July 2013

Greyville, Turf, 2200m
6 July 2013

The Gold Challenge (Gr.1) is behind us, and last year’s Horse Of The Year will be this year’s Horse Of The Year. Variety Club came home like the champion he is, and if he gets his chance to travel to the Breeders Cup in the USA, he could still become Horse Of The Year somewhere else. Brave words, we know, but you have to see the movies to understand what we mean. With Shea Shea and Soft Falling Rain in Europe and the possibility of Variety Club making his way to the States, this could be South Africa’s moment, particularly with the prospect that the restraints on our exports will be lifted shortly.

Now it’s on to the biggest fish of the lot, the Vodacom Durban July (VDJ), the best sporting idea that anyone ever had in Natal, a race as old as the Kentucky Derby, older than most football clubs in Europe, older than Ashes cricket, older for that matter, than the nation of South Africa. That doesn’t make it immune from shock, though. The biggest “bomb” came with Mike de Kock’s scratching of the race favourite, Vercingetorix, on the grounds of a slight lameness and reservations about his stamina. The other ground-shaker involves the possible inclusion of Variety Club, who has not been asked to go this far since his defeat by Jackson in the Investec Cape Derby two seasons back. The reservation has always been his stamina, and while he’s the toast of the nation, it remains a fact. One thing his inclusion would do though, is cause a tremor in the weights, because outside of a few, most of the field would have to come under sufferance at the minimum weight of 53 kgs. That would benefit all the high-weighted older horses and the best three-year-olds, but it would catch most of the field on the wrong foot.

That aside and these two interventions excepted, the past two weekends have been decisive in providing clues to the final field and the pricing of bookmakers, who’ve suspended betting pending a decision on Variety Club. The Daily News, the Gold Challenge and Sunday’s Jubilee Handicap have always been good July pointers, and this year they appear to have played an even more significant role. Firstly, they’ve enhanced the prospects of three of the older horses, last year’s VDJ hero Pomodoro, the Champions Cup ace Heavy Metal (both owned by Chris van Niekerk and trained by Sean Tarry), and Seal, who manfully shouldered a welterweight to victory in the Jubilee at a trip well short of his best. The Daily News enhanced the reputations of the first four home (in order,) Vercingetorix, No Worries, Capetown Noir and Wylie Hall, all of whom were elevated to prominence in the betting. On the same day, the Woolavington Stakes for fillies was the stage for Do You Remember to stake her claim, while it told the Triple Crown queen, Cherry On The Top’s connections, she was “over the top”. If Wylie Hall comes into the reckoning on his fast-finishing stretch run in the Daily News, then the Summerhill Ready To Run graduate, Gothic, on the strength of his runner-up effort to Wylie Hall in the S.A. Derby, must be in the thick of it, too.

Those that underperformed on the weekend include Hill Fifty Four, Knock On Wood and Shogunnar (a below par fourth in the Jubilee), while Whiteline Fever probably told us he’d be the third string in Tarry’s bow behind Pomodoro and Heavy Metal. One horse who did come from left field however, was Astro News, who thundered home in the Cup Trial for Charles Laird and Fred Crabbia, and while the form of this race might prove to be suspect, that may have just got him over the line for a place in the final lineup at the possible expense of stable companion, among others, of Master Plan. Don’t write the son of Solskjaer, Shogunnar off yet. This fellow can read and write; how many times has he disappointed at Group 2 and 3 level, only to come thundering back in Group One? He seldom fails at the top level, and the VDJ could just be his stage.

From a Summerhill perspective, while you’d always have to be pleased to have three runners in the race (No Worries, Shogunnar and the S.A. Classic ace, Love Struck), the latter was below par in the Daily News. He was however, having his first run in a couple of months, his first since his Group One victory, and it needs to be remembered that he was below par in the Guineas in his run immediately before the Classic. He was sitting on 19 in the merit list last week, and his participation will depend upon the rumoured withdrawal of Jackson, Thunder Dance and Cherry On The Top, in order to retain his spot in the field.

The wild card remains though, and that is whether or not the Horse Of The Year will be asked by his connections to step up for the extra 600 metres of the July. If he does, he’ll most certainly take his place at the top of the weights (60kgs) and on merit rating, that means that last year’s winner, Pomodoro, would then carry 57.5kgs with the top rated three-year-olds, coming in at the minimum for their age of 53.5kgs, as we’ve mentioned.

Whatever the outcome, it’s shaping up as a massive contest between the new generation and the old, the energetic and the enterprising, and envitably, between the well-drawn and the not-so-well drawn. Not that the draw worried Pomodoro (20) last year; as they say in Oz, “No Worries, mate”.

Greyville, Turf, 2200m
6 July 2013

Entries, Merit Ratings and Weights as at 11 June 2013

Horse MR Kg Trainer
JACKSON 113 60.0 Brett Crawford
POMODORO 113 60.0 Sean Tarry
HEAVY METAL 112 59.5 Sean Tarry
HILL FIFTY FOUR 112 59.5 Vaughan Marshall
WHITELINE FEVER 112 59.5 Sean Tarry
MASTER PLAN 110 58.5 Alec Laird
SEAL 110 58.5 Gavin van Zyl
ICE MACHINE 109 58.0 Garth Puller
BRAVURA 108 57.5 Joey Ramsden
ASTRO NEWS 107 57.0 Charles Laird
TRIBAL DANCE 107 57.0 Vaughan Marshall
RUN FOR IT 106 56.5 Justin Snaith
SHOGUNNAR 106 56.5 Gavin van Zyl
THUNDER DANCE 106 56.5 Brett Crawford
ZAMBUCCA 107 56.5 Saeed Mohideen
BULSARA 105 56.0 Gavin van Zyl
TAIPAN 105 56.0 Dean Kannemeyer
E-JET 104 55.5 Sean Tarry
GOLD ONYX (NZ) 104 55.5 Sean Tarry
CAPETOWN NOIR 107 55.0 Dean Kannemeyer
NO WORRIES 107 55.0 Gavin van Zyl
WYLIE HALL (AUS) 107 55.0 Weiho Marwing
PESSOA 103 55.0 Alec Laird
DO YOU REMEMBER 106 54.5 Geoff Woodruff
JET BELLE 105 54.0 Robbie Sage
ROCK COCKTAIL (AUS) 105 54.0 Mike de Kock
JET EXPLORER 101 54.0 Justin Snaith
SMANJEMANJE 101 54.0 Tyrone Zackey
KING OF PAIN 104 54.0 Joey Ramsden
PIERRE JOURDAN 100 53.5 Gary Alexander
POTALA PALACE 100 53.5 Mike Azzie
PUNTA ARENAS 100 53.5 Stan Elley
RIVER CROSSING 100 53.5 Mike Bass
LOVE STRUCK 103 53.0 Paul Lafferty
TELLINA 103 53.0 Geoff Woodruff
YORKER 102 53.0 Geoff Woodruff
GLORIOUS JET 98 53.0 St John Gray
GOLDEN CHATEAU (AUS) 98 53.0 Duncan Howells
WAGNER 98 53.0 Joe Soma
GOTHIC 97 53.0 Kumaran Naidoo
PENHALIGON 97 53.0 Alyson Wright
PUTNEY FLYER 96 53.0 Weiho Marwing
WAR HORSE 96 53.0 Corne Spies
AMERICAN STORM 95 53.0 Spike Lerena
LOCKHEED JETSTAR 95 53.0 Geoff Woodruff
PATRIOTIC REBEL 95 53.0 Mike de Kock
RED FORT 95 53.0 Geoff Woodruff
SABADELL 95 53.0 Geoff Woodruff
TRUE MASTER 95 53.0 Justin Snaith
WILD ONE 95 53.0 Jeff Freedman
YER-MAAN 95 53.0 St John Gray
ABERCROMBIE 94 53.0 Mike Bass
FOURTH ESTATE 93 53.0 Colin Scott
GENERAL SHERMAN 93 53.0 Sean Tarry
SILENT PARTNER 92 53.0 Mike de Kock
TERRITORIAL WATERS 92 53.0 Tony Rivalland
BIG CITY ANGEL 91 53.0 Gavin van Zyl
MASTER SABINA 90 53.0 Geoff Woodruff
MEISSA 89 53.0 Gary Alexander
SAFE HOUSE 89 53.0 Mike Azzie
HAMMIE’S DYNASTY 87 53.0 Mike Bass
SILVER SPRING 77 53.0 Gavin van Zyl
DREAMBYTHEMASTER 76 53.0 Charles Laird
VIVA MARIA 97 52.0 Mike de Kock
CHERRY ON THE CAKE 94 52.0 Gavin van Zyl
PRICELESS JEWEL 86 52.0 Adam Marcus

Summerhill entries denoted by yellow

Declarations : Monday 24 June 2013
Final Field and Barrier Draw : Tuesday 25 June 2013
Gallops : Thursday 25 June 2013
Vodacom Durban July : Saturday 6 July 2013

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