by David Thiselton
Justin Snaith’s stable jockey Richard Fourie will have a headache choosing his Vodacom Durban July ride this year after Belgarion put up a scintillating performance yesterday to win the Grade WSB 1900 at Greyville under Anton Marcus.
Belgarion is set to carry 53kg in the July as things stand not the widely reported 54kg.
The 54kg is in fact two kgs out because he will be 1kg under sufferance off his expected 119 merit rating.
Belgarion is likely to be given the maximum six point raise for his three length win over the KZN horse Tristful, who was 1,4 lengths clear of another KZN horse Camphoratus.
That means he will go from 113 to 119 which is 16 points less than the 135 merit rating of the current highest rated horse Do It Again.
As each point represents half-a-kilogram that equates to 8kg and with top weight being 60kg it would have him carrying 52kg in a true handicap.
However, the July is a mixture between a handicap and a conditions race and one of the conditions is that the minimum weight for a male horse is 53kg, meaning he has to go up 1kg from his true handicap weight. He will thus, as things stand, be “1kg under sufferance”.
However, he will be regarded by the experts as being well weighted because his 119 merit rating is likely “capped”. A condition of the WSB 1900 is that the winner can not be raised more than six points and given freedom the handicappers might well have raised him higher.
One of South Africa’s best handicappers Jay August unofficially awarded Belgarion 115 on a scale which can be compared to the Asian Pacific Conference (APC) ratings.
This makes his performance equal best for the SA Champions Season so far alongside the Snaith-trained, Kasimir, who ran to that rating when second in the IOS Drill Hall.
However, August said Belgarion could even be given a 115+ considering the ease of the win.
On the other hand he said the international handicappers on the APC panel, which includes South Africa’s chief handicapper Lennon Maharaj, would always challenge a 115 first time for a horse outside of a Grade 1 race and predicted they would knock him down to 114.
Last year Do It Again achieved the highest APC in this country of 121 with Hawwaam and Rainbow Bridge close behind on 120 and 119 respectively.
Presuming Belgarion is given a 114 that puts him just seven points lower than Do It Again at his best and under that rating scale Belgarion would have had to carry 56,5kg in the July. The experts might thus regard him as being 3,5kg “well in”, i.e weighted 3,5kg better than he should be.
Marcus does not yet have a ride for this year’s July so might well be aboard the leading Snaith contender Fourie rejects i.e Belgarion or Do It Again.
Do It Again was ridden by Marcus to win the July two years ago and was ridden by Fourie last year.
Fourie’s minimum riding weight is 54kg and Marcus’ is 55kg, so both will have to slim significantly to ride Belgarion as things stand.
Caption: Belgarion easily winning yesterday’s Grade 2 WSB 1900. (Candiese Lenferna).