Belgarion’s merit rating in cotton wool

PUBLISHED: 10 June 2020

Belgarion (Liesl King)

Belgarion, third favourite for the Vodacom Durban July with most bookmakers and already backed from 9-1 to 7.5-1 this week with Track And Ball, runs next in the World Sports Betting 1900 at Hollywoodbets Greyville on Saturday week. The four-year-old is hot favourite, 13-10 with the sponsors and 1.35-1 with Track And Ball.

Belgarion, son of the 2003 July winner Dynasty, has been laid out for the July since his last run when he won the Glorious Goodwood Peninsula Handicap at Kenilworth five months ago – and in all probability for a great deal longer than that.

Belgarion (Liesl King)
Belgarion (Liesl King)

Justin Snaith, now bidding for his fifth July win, has been guarding the gelding’s merit rating as if it is part of the stable’s crown jewels – and in a way it is. Snaith told me after the Peninsula victory: “Belgarion has a huge future come the Natal season. The previous time I ran him – when he won the Settlers at Durbanville in September- he got a sharp rise in the weights and I had to put him away. Had I not done so he would have gone up the ratings too quickly.

“That’s why I am not going to run him again in Cape Town this season. He is a horse who will run well in the July but not if he is at level weights with the best ones.”

Belgarion, only beaten twice in seven starts, pleased his trainer in that racecourse gallop with Do It Again at Greyville last Sunday: “I was very happy- I thought both of them galloped nicely.”

Do It Again runs in the Gold Challenge on June 28 and, if all goes well, he could attempt to become the first horse in history to win the July three times. Belgarion, though, is the one of more immediate interest.

Furthermore the 1900 has often proved significant in the build-up to the July. Last year’s winner Eyes Wide Open went on to finish fourth in the big one and the 2018 victor Elusive Silva was third. The 2015 and 2016 July winners both ran in the 1900, Power King finishing second and The Conglomerate fourth.

By Michael Clower