Eyes Wide Open scratched from VDJ
PUBLISHED: July 13, 2020
The owners have now decided it would thus be better to give him a breather until the Gold Cup so he will have no more runs until then.”…
Eyes Wide Open was the most significant scratching just a day before the Vodacom Durban July final field announcement.
The other scratching was Duke Of Spin.
Eyes Wide Open finished a strong-finishing fourth in last year’s July.
However, he has not been able to match that form this season and could only manage a moderate fourth in Saturday’s final qualifying race, the Grade 3 Track & Ball Derby.
Trainer Glen Kotzen said he had pulled up a hundred percent sound and explained, “It was a big rush to qualify him after his gelding and he has had three quick runs in successions. The owners have now decided it would thus be better to give him a breather until the Gold Cup so he will have no more runs until then.”
He was bought recently by the Gujadhur family, who have one of the world’s oldest racing stables and are virtually royalty in Mauritius racing circles.
The five-year-old is out of a mare whose only win was over 1000m and his female side is a mixture of speed and middle distance class. His fast finish off a slow pace in last year’s July also suggested he has plenty of speed.
However, both his sire Dynasty and damsire Jallad impart stamina so there can be hope he will stay the Gold Cup 3200m distance.
By David Thiselton
Marchingontogether Marches On
PUBLISHED: July 12, 2020
-David Thiselton The Gavin van Zyl-trained four-year-old Pathfork gelding Marchingontogether made it five wins in seven starts at Hollywoodbets Scottsville yesterday when running on well under Warren Kennedy from midfield in the Grade 3 Track And Ball Derby over 2400m to win by 1,10 lengths from It’s My Turn. It’s My Turn enhanced his chances of […]
The Gavin van Zyl-trained four-year-old Pathfork gelding Marchingontogether made it five wins in seven starts at Hollywoodbets Scottsville yesterday when running on well under Warren Kennedy from midfield in the Grade 3 Track And Ball Derby over 2400m to win by 1,10 lengths from It’s My Turn.
It’s My Turn enhanced his chances of being included in the Vodacom Durban July field while another July entry, Eyes Wide Open, is now in danger of not being included in the top 18 as he could only manage a moderate fourth, beaten 4,80 lengths, in the small eight horse field. Dark Moon Rising finished third.
July entry Duke Of Spin finished seventh so has no chance of making the final field. A section of rail had to be moved outward before the running of the Derby due to inconsistent going caused by a downpour.
After the Derby was run the meeting was abandoned following a jockeys’ protest. The Grade 2 Track And Ball Oaks was thus not run. It might be rescheduled for next Saturday, but that will not help Roy’s Riviera, who was out to qualify for the July. The July final field announcement and draw ceremony takes place on Tuesday.
Marchingontogether will attempt to follow in the footsteps of Hermoso Mundo and It’s My Turn by becoming the third horse in the space of four years to complete a hattrick of Grade 3 staying race victories in the Gold Cup.He was an impressive winner of the Lonsdale Stirrup Cup over 2400m at Greyville in his previous start. Hermoso Mundo won the Gold Bowl, the Gold Vase and the Gold Cup in 2017.
It’s My Turn won the Track And Ball Derby, the Gold Vase and the Gold Cup in 2018.The other highlight of yesterday’s meeting was the victory of the Garth Puller-trained Captain Fontane on his debut over 1200m under Lyle Hewitson.
This Cheveley Stud-bred Captain Al gelding is a full brother to Snowdance and comes from one of the best families in South Africa. His Grade 3-winning mother Spring Lilac (Joshua Dancer) is a daughter of Equus Champion Broodmare Mystic Spring and is thus a half-sister to champions Rabiya and Bela Bela and to Grade 2-winner and Grade 1-producing broodmare Secret Of Victoria among others.
Famous racing family a step away from a VDJ runner
PUBLISHED: July 11, 2020
The light blue silks with red crossed sashes and a red cap belong to the famous Gujadhur family, who are virtually royalty in Mauritius racing circles…
Glen Kotzen runs last year’s Vodacom Durban July fourth-placed Eyes Wide Open in the Grade 3 Track And Ball Derby at Hollywoodbets Scottsville today and a good run will ensure the most famous colours in Mauritius are seen in the VDJ this year.
The light blue silks with red crossed sashes and a red cap belong to the famous Gujadhur family, who are virtually royalty in Mauritius racing circles and any big win they have on the island is widely celebrated due to their popularity.
The family bought the five-year-old son of Dynasty especially to have a July runner this year.
Kotzen admitted everything was a bit rushed after the sale as the horse had to be transported to Durban and gelded.
He said Eyes Wide Open had not put a foot wrong since gelding and the operation had also brought with it soundness and happiness.
He said, “He ran three lengths back in the Drill Hall and then in the WSB 1900 came down the inside when everything was going down the outside.”
He added, “He has had an excellent prep and will be cherry ripe for this run.”
Eyes Wide Open stayed on strongly for fourth in the July last year so should not have a problem staying this 2400m trip.
He is drawn five in the eight horse field and has Anton Marcus aboard.
Kotzen said about his chances of qualifying for the July, “He is in a high log position, but you never know and that is why we are running him here, just to make it concrete.”
Eyes Wide Open was in 16th place on the final July log and two horses above him have been scratched.
Kotzen runs Coral Bay and Je Ne Sais Quoi in the Grade 2 Track And Ball Oaks and said although both were officially out at the weights the ratings in staying races sometimes proved to be misleading.
He concluded, “They both needed that last run and have come on from it and they both stay very well.”
By David Thiselton
The pace – where will it come from in the VDJ 2020?
PUBLISHED: July 10, 2020
He also pointed out that Vardy had produced a high finishing percentage in the Gold Challenge when coming from last off a crawl to run Rainbow Bridge…
Racing guru Jay August has been providing a myriad valuable stats for industryman to work with recently and one of his recent revelations might well have an impact on the pace in this year’s Vodacom Durban July.
August points out that the first 1200m of the 2017 July was run in a fast 73,4 seconds, which enabled Marinaresco to come from way off the pace to win.
However, he reckoned the slow opening 1200m of both the 2018 and 2019 July’s, 76,7 seconds and 75,6 seconds respectively, played into the hands of Do It Again due to his superior sprinting speed.
August points out that in a normal turf race the finishing speed for the winner would be around 102-103% where finishing speed is the final 400m average metres per second compared to the horse’s average metres per second for the rest of the race.
He goes on to say that in the 2018 July Do It Again’s finishing speed was an astounding 109%.
He also pointed out that Vardy had produced a high finishing percentage in the Gold Challenge when coming from last off a crawl to run Rainbow Bridge to a 0,90 length second.
So if Do It Again is back to his best he won’t mind a slow pace again.
Vardy will probably actively want a slow pace as he is yet to prove he stays this trip.
Rainbow Bridge and Twisted Fate, second and third last year, will need the pace to be quicker as they were unable to match the sprinting speed of Do It Again in the straight from handy positions.
Eyes Wide Open, Miyabi Gold and Camphoratus were able to produce good finishes from off that slow pace last year to get into the places, which is interesting as they will be carrying the same minimum weights.
Of course not all of those who would benefit from a slow pace would mind a fast pace.
Most top horses prefer a good pace, as long as they have the necessary stamina reserves, as their superior VO2 max (the measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen an athlete can utilize during intense exercise) enables them to keep going while others are crying enough.
So where will the pace come from this year then?
The four key horses look to be Silvano’s Pride, Padre Pio, Rainbow Bridge and Twist Of Fate.
The draw will also play an important role in determining the pace.
A natural front runner would probably not want to be drawn too low as this would mean he or she would have to use up a bit of fuel early to hold his or her position.
Being drawn wider out gives the horse a chance to move to the front at a steady tempo, although if the inside drawn horses are rushing this horse will then have to step up a gear.
Nevertheless, Silvano’s Pride showed last time when comfortably winning the Grade 2 Tibouchina she has enough pace to lead over 1400m, so she should definitely have enough pace to lead over 2200m even if it is in a Grade 1 against the boys.
In fact she led the Grade 1 Woolavington 2000 last year and won that too.
The point that will make her a dangerous runner in the July is that she was able to dictate in both the Woolavington 2000 and the Tibouchina.
Punters often make the mistake of looking through a card and if finding a front-runner they automatically assume the pace will be good.
However, if that front-runner is able to dictate then it will likely lead to a controlled pace more likely to suit the leader and not as fast as the others will need or want.
Therefore, as Silvano’s Pride is able to dictate, it must now be determined whether there are any in the field who will be willing to take her on.
Padre Pio is a definite candidate as he opened up a big lead in the Grade 1 Daily News 2000. He showed he was also able to respond to the rider’s instructions despite facing the breeze as he was cleverly given a breather coming up the hill. Visually it looked as if he was folding but instead he amazed many by finding plenty in the straight and finishing a 1,50 length second.
Of the aforementioned pair it is going to be a lot easier on paper for four-year-old Silvano’s Pride because off her 118 merit rating she sneaks into the handicap carrying the minimum weight for a female of 52kg.
Three-year-old Padre Pio, on the other hand, will be 4,5kg under sufferance carrying 53kg.
Rainbow Bridge will also be a candidate to lead.
In last year’s Grade 1 Champions Cup over 1800m he over-raced when caught without cover and showed what a superstar he was by still winning the race cosily. He was thus always going to be interesting if taken to the front and in this year’s Grade 1 Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge over 1600m he showed that he was able to relax and dictate when taken to the head of affairs. However, he will never again be given as easy a lead as he was given in that race.
Twist Of Fate is another who has been effective from the front before.
Rainbow Bridge and Twist Of Fate would both want it faster than either Silvano’s Pride and Padre Pio, so the pace picture is most intriguing this year.
Furthermore, there will be eleven runners in total carrying the minimum weight for their respective genders and those of them who are capable of being up there might want to force the pace in order to ensure the higher weighted more fancied runners have to carry those big masses.
The annual pace question will be one of the debates emanating from the final field and draw ceremony next Tuesday.
By David Thiselton
Roy’s Riviera’s last chance dance
PUBLISHED: July 8, 2020
Roy’s Riviera was among the five horses just outside the top 20 on the last July log so a good run on Saturday might see her still making the final field…
Frank Robinson’s Australian-bred mare Roy’s Riviera will run for the third weekend in succession in the Grade 2 Track And Ball Oaks over 2400m at Hollywoodbets Scottsville on Saturday in her bid to qualify for the Vodacom Durban July.
She finished a disappointing last place in the Grade 3 Cup Trial over 1800m after being caught in a handy position without cover and appearing to travel too strongly.
However, Robinson said the tough five-year-old daughter of All Too Hard had come out of the race very well and added, “Her legs were ice cold and her blood was good, so there was nothing untoward at all and she looks amazing. She probably just ran too freely in her second run after a six month layoff.”
Roy’s Riviera was among the five horses just outside the top 20 on the last July log so a good run on Saturday might see her still making the final field.
Robinson said he would probably remove the blinkers as she cannot afford to race too freely again over this longer trip.
This mare always appears to be underestimated by the oddsmakers and a closer look at her career shows that she is very capable.
She ran unplaced in this race last year and had few excuses as she was well drawn and had a good passage. However, her previous race had been in the Lonsdale Stirrup Cup, also over 2400m, where she finished fifth and was just a shorthead and behind subsequent Gold Cup winner Dynasty’s Blossom to whom she gave 2kg.
So this year coming in off a 1400m run and an 1800m race she has likely had a better preparation although those races have come on top of each other.
Her sire All Too Hard won three Group 1s over 1400m in Australia and one Group 1 over 1600m but he also finished a neck second in the prestigious Group 1 Cox Plate over 2000m at Moonee Valley. Roy’s Riviera’s half-sister Sebring Sally finished fourth in a Group 1 over the Track and Ball Oaks distance of 2400m and her grandam won over 2100m.
Sereno Moodley rides on Saturday partly due to Robinson’s promise to give him the ride in the July.
By David Thiselton