Rattray’s first July win?
PUBLISHED: July 24, 2020
Rainbow Bridge showed in the Sun Met that he can be ridden positively and still perform to his best. In the Gold Challenge he relaxed beautifully in front.
Rainbow Bridge is tipped to land a first Vodacom Durban July sash for owning and breeding doyen Mike Rattray.
The Eric Sands-trained five-year-old Ideal World gelding has always been good but is currently at the peak of his prowess and jumps from a plum draw of two. His rider, the national champion jockey elect Warren Kennedy, is cool, calm and collected and is particularly good at placing a horse in the running. Rainbow Bridge showed in the Sun Met that he can be ridden positively and still perform to his best. In the Gold Challenge he relaxed beautifully in front, dictated and ran on to win. With his more relaxed demeanour these days he should get every inch of the 2200m and his versatility in running style will allow the strategically astute Kennedy to implement plan B if the pace does not pan out as fast as expected in the early stages.
The three-year-olds do not look to be vintage this year but a closer look at the best of them, Got The Greenlight, suggests he could be better than his bare form shows. He tends to take the foot off the pedal when hitting the front but the manner in which he has toyed with two or three Grade 1 three-year-old fields suggests that if he had something to chase he could up his game considerably.
Tierra Del Fuego would be weighted to dead-heat with Hawwaam if the latter was in the field on his run in the Grade 1 Premier’s Champions Challenge. That was his first try beyond a mile and he stayed all the way to the line, thus confirming he is influenced by his female line which contains plenty of stamina. Gavin Lerena should be able to ride him more confidently now, knowing he stays.
Do It Again has hinted he could bounce back to his best and is 1kg better off with Rainbow Bridge than last year. However, he does have the widest draw of all to overcome in his bid to make history by winning it three years in a row.
Bunker Hunt has come into his own and on form has a chance at the weights and on his Met run he should stay the trip.
Belgarion is said to be the best handicapped horse as his merit rating is capped due to a condition which allowed his impressive win in the WSB 1900 to be penalised only six points. If he finds cover he could well win, but the problem is he likes to stride out and is drawn 17, so risks being caught wide.
Vardy has a lot of class and an exceptional turn of foot and if he gets the run of the race from draw nine on the back of an even tempo-ed pace, he has a fine chance. However, if the pace is too fast it might expose a possible stamina limitation.
Soqrat had a tough Cape Summer and there is a concern he might not be the same horse he once was. However, if he is able to reproduce his Summer Cup run he could be involved in the finish.
Those eight are selected in order of mention.
Of the others Twist Of Fate, third last year and a courageous and consistent type, would be a better bet for the top six than a few of those mentioned above. However, he has not been included in the top eight because he looks unlikely to win it.
Miyabi Gold has blossomed and is probably better now than when finishing fifth last year.
Shango can be ignored at your peril as he impressed when winning the Dingaans and this might be the first time he has been at his peak since.
Silvano’s Pride will be dangerous if able to dictate in front.
It’s My Turn has placed in this race before.
Divine Odyssey finished a 3,35 length eighth last year and has an outside top six chance.
Golden Ducat looks held by Got The Greenlight.
Camphoratus placed sixth last year but the field looks stronger this time.
Capoeira looks held at the weights.
Padre Pio is 4,5kg under sufferance and unlike Got The Greenlight does not look any better than that.
By David Thiselton
Donovan Dillon to ride Golden Ducat
PUBLISHED: July 22, 2020
Dillon, whose carded minimum riding weight is 56.5kg, will need to shed 3.5kg by Saturday to make the 53kg allotted the Cape Derby winner but was confident.
Donovan Dillon has been pencilled in as the missing jockey blank on Golden Ducat in Saturday’s Vodacom Durban July. Dillon was officially declared by trainer Eric Sands this morning after much speculation.
Dillon, whose carded minimum riding weight is 56.5kg, will need to shed 3.5kg by Saturday to make the 53kg allotted the Cape Derby winner but was confident that he would make the required weight in time.
He weighed in at 55kg yesterday. “I’m on a strict diet and I have got a week,” he said on Tuesday. He has also consulted former jockey Garth Puller who famously shed 6kg to make 49kg when winning the July aboard Bush Telegraph in 1987.
By Andrew Harrison
Hewitson on Carallumo and the July three-year-old debate
PUBLISHED: July 22, 2020
Hewitson said, “Look, they are two-year-olds, anything can happen, but I do think she’s quality and she is my best on the card.”…
Reigning national champion jockey Lyle Hewitson confirmed that the exciting prospect Carallumo would be his best ride on Vodacom Durban July day and he also spoke about the three-year-old question mark surrounding the July, where he rides Dingaans winner Shango.
He rides Carallumo in the Grade 2 Zulu Kingdom Explorer Golden Slipper over 1400m from pole position and said, “Look, they are two-year-olds, anything can happen, but I do think she’s quality and she is my best on the card.”
He moved on to Shango and the three-year-old question mark and said, “We missed three months of racing and I think we will know a lot more after Gold Cup day, that will be the three months we’ve missed out. So, yes there is a question mark but I think there is a question mark every season, people have some doubts and the three-year-olds seem to raise their hands, so let’s see what they can do this year.”
He continued, “Mr Tarry has made no secret about Shango being quite a lazy workhorse so it’s hard to gain confidence from his work, but he looks a picture, he’s a magnificent individual. His coat is really good at the moment, he’s moving well, his demeanour is good, so it’s all heading in the right direction, so I’m happy where he is. He has been lazy at track throughout his career but everything else is spot on and I’m looking forward to the race.”
Hewitson rode Shango in the latter’s first four career starts and recalled, “He was close up on debut at the Vaal and in his second start at Scottsville, both over 1200m. He then won a really nice race over a mile at Hollywoodbets Scottsville and he backed up to run second to Alibi Guy over 1900m on Gold Cup day and I thought he was very unlucky that day as he was green and all over the place here at Hollywoodbets Greyville.”
He added, “I have done all the work on him since he’s been here (at Summerveld) and I know him very well.”
Tarry said recently that Shango had thrived in KZN last season and he expected the same to happen this term. The Captain Of All colt arrived at Summerveld shortly before finishing fastest of all in the Grade 1 Daily News 2000 under Gavin Lerena for a 3,05 length fourth and has been there ever since
Shango won the Dingaans last November in impressive style but the autumn classic season didn’t go according to plan, starting with him missing the Gauteng Guineas with a small setback.
Hewitson continued, “He wasn’t tuned up for the Classic, and I wouldn’t say he was disgraced, and he went into the Derby and looked a winner and just got run out of it. His form is there when he’s right and he’s deceiving too, a lot of people would consider him a one pacer but he’s always a finisher so I’m happy and I’m ready for the big day.”
Hewitson spoke about two other runners on the day.
He said, “I think Ecstatic Green will run a cheeky race against the boys (in the Grade 2 Durban Golden Horseshoe). It is tougher and she’s going 1400m for the first time, so a few question marks there, but I think she’s improved from her run and I expect her to hit the board.”
He rides In The Dance in the Grade 1 Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes and said, “She ran a short head second to Oh Susanna last year in the Tibouchina coming from last after a slow start, so when she puts it together she’s a seriously decent individual. It looks a very tough race but if she hits the frame I will be happy. She’s doing well and her prep has been good, no excuses.”
Of the rest of his card he said, “My other rides are competitive and I’m just looking forward to some good runs.”
Those rides include SA Fillies Sprint third-placed Singforafa in the second, Shenanigans, who seems to love Hollywoodbets Greyville, in the Gold Vase, albeit from a wide draw, and the in form Golden Belle, who runs in the ninth if she does travel down after her win at the Vaal yesterday.
By David Thiselton
Chief Handicapper unravels the July
PUBLISHED: July 22, 2020
Lennon Maharaj said, “There is little question that Covid-19 and the National Lockdown have impacted on the development of the three-year-olds’ Merit…
South Africa’s chief handicapper Lennon Maharaj has looked at the Vodacom Durban July through the public eye this year and offered some pointers.
He firstly addressed the three-year-old issue and said, “There is little question that Covid-19 and the National Lockdown have impacted on the development of the three-year-olds’ Merit Ratings. Last season Soqrat ran second in the Grade 1 L’Ormarins Queens Plate at WFA terms behind Do It Again providing the Handicappers with a good yardstick. Hawwaam also quickly established himself as a dominant force. This season it was not until the Daily News 2000 victory of Got The Greenlight that the best middle distance horse of the crop was known. I have more questions than answers about the three-year-olds this season and the July will provide the answers. However, unlike handicappers who are post-race analysts, tipsters and punters have to analyse the race beforehand and try and predict a winner. One question they should be asking is how do the three-year-olds compare with recent three-year-old winners and how comparatively tough is their task?
2012 winner Pomodoro (55kg) beat Grade 2 Smanjemanje (57kg) and Grade 2 winner Chesalon (58kg).
2014 winner Legislate (56 kg) (after a successful objection) beat Grade 1 winner Wylie Hall (57,5kg) and Grade 2 winner Tellina (58kg).
2018 winner Do It Again (54kg) beat Grade 3 winner Made To Conquer (53kg) and Grade 2 winner Elusive Silva (56,5kg).
How do the older horses they beat stack up against Grade 1 WFA winners like Do It Again, Rainbow Bridge, Vardy and Soqrat? The fact that we have been able to keep horses like those four on our shores has surely strengthened the quality of our national horse population over the last few seasons and consequently sets the three-year-olds a tough task, even if they do prove to be undervalued by the interrupted season.
Maharaj then gave some pointers to punters, in layman’s terms, on how to unravel the handicap. He began by saying a successful handicap was one where there was the perception that every horse had an equal chance of winning, so the task punters should be setting themselves would be to find horses that have been undervalued by the handicapper and/or over-priced by the betting market.
He continued, “Imagine a line graph based on the MR profile for each runner in the July. You will find that all horses good enough to participate would have been and may still be on an upward MR curve but the more exposed among them might now have reached their peaks and have flattened curves. In theory if all the July runners are weighted to finish in a line, with the exception of the horses under sufferance who are still behind the line, then surely the smart money should be on the horses that are weighted to finish in the line but with room for improvement i.e. those who are still on an upwards trajectory or who are perhaps under handicapped.
Belgarion should be outright favourite for the July. His official rating of 119 is only due to a specific condition of the WSB 1900, in which he achieved a 122 rating, so he is under handicapped. We could have weighted Belgarion off his achieved 122 rating as this is permitted by the conditions of the race, but we opted not to break precedent. Belgarion is clearly on an upward trajectory. He has a winning attitude and is in theory ahead of the Handicapper. The fact is that we don’t know how good he is or whether he will cope with the rise in class in the July. However, he has a theoretical edge, especially if you believe that the other runners have reached their peaks.
Maharaj then spoke about Rainbow Bridge, Do It Again and Vardy. “Statistics clearly show that the top weight band outperforms all other weight bands in ordinary handicaps where the weight spread is from 60kg to 52kg. The July weights favour the top weights more than that due to the 7 kg spread to the bottom weighted male (53kg) and 8 kg spread to the bottom weighted female.
Rainbow Bridge is in the form of his life and was ridden more positively when producing an eye catching second in the Sun Met, beating the rest of a high quality field including Hawwaam by more than 3,5 lengths and more. There is absolutely no questions about his class and having implemented these positive tactics he may still be on the up. He will have to produce a 135 performance to win.
Last year’s champion Do It Again has been beaten four times in a row by Rainbow Bridge this season but did produce a better effort in the Gold Challenge. Is he back to his best? A 134 or better performance is not impossible for this champion.
Vardy is a class horse with incredible acceleration. Will he be as effective over the 2200m and how will he cope if the race is run at a fast pace? Can he produce a 135 performance over this trip?
Soqrat is a muscular, classy horse whose latest run was encouraging. At his best he is quite capable of a 134 performance.
Twist of Fate’s rating has risen to 129. He has run close to Hawwaam on several occasions and would have received 3,5kg from Hawwaam had the latter participated. Was he undone by the slow pace in the Gold Challenge?
Bunker Hunt may have some stamina doubts but possesses great acceleration and has run with the best in the land. What is your assessment of his Drill Hall win?
Tierra del Fuego also has form with Hawwaam and may still be on the up.
The race doesn’t end there and we haven’t even touched on other factors such as pace.”
Maharaj concluded, “Hopefully there are some clues in this article to help you unravel one of the most debated July’s in recent years.
And us Handicappers? We will have all the answers after the race!”
By David Thiselton
Yeni going in to July full of confidence
PUBLISHED: July 22, 2020
Muzi Yeni showed on Sunday that any cobwebs brought on by his two enforced layoffs this season had been cleaned out as he rode a pearler on Running Brave in the KZN Breeders Mile and he goes into the Vodacom Durban July full of confidence having landed the ride on the highest rated three-year-old in […]
Muzi Yeni showed on Sunday that any cobwebs brought on by his two enforced layoffs this season had been cleaned out as he rode a pearler on Running Brave in the KZN Breeders Mile and he goes into the Vodacom Durban July full of confidence having landed the ride on the highest rated three-year-old in the country, Got The Greenlight.
Two of Joey Soma’s handful of career Grade 1 winners have been ridden by Yeni, Happy Landing in the Champions Challenge in 2011 and Lobo’s Legend in the SA Classic in 2018.
Yeni added, “And that is with not too many rides for him.”
In normal circumstances there are enough points of comparison between the three-year-olds and older horses by this time of the year. However, there is little to go on this year as a result of lockdown, so it is difficult to know exactly how good Got The Greenlight is.
Some pundits are disparaging about the current three-year-old crop and according to the official merit ratings, Got The Greenlight is 3kg under sufferance. However, one point that perhaps sets him apart is that old adage “you can only win”. Furthermore, he showed in both the SA Classic and Daily News 2000 that he is one of those sorts who takes his foot off the pedal after hitting the front, so he could well be better than the official results are showing.
Yeni said, “I think he’s got a great turn of foot but he obviously has a short run in, so you have to time it right, you can’t go too soon on him. But the July is packed with horses and I’m sure he will have a lot of horses to run down or to chase. I’m just hoping from my draw (13) I can find a decent position from which I won’t be giving him too much to do. There is always going to be a debate about the three-year-olds versus the older horses but he has won three Group 1s, let’s take nothing away from him. He is definitely a massive runner. He’s got a nice weight receiving 7kg from Rainbow Bridge and Vardy and 6,5kg from Do It Again, so that should give us a bit of an edge being a three-year-old. It’s still a tough contest, but if I am able to get a good position I am sure we should fight out the finish.”
The question of pace can never be answered until the race itself, although with the like of Silvano’s Pride and Padre Pio in the field most pundits are expecting it to be good this year.
A good pace will aid Got The Greenlight in two ways: Firstly, it will give him a better chance of slotting in from his tricky draw as the field should then become strung out; Secondly, his run in the SA Derby over the tough Turffontein 2400m, when running out of steam in the final few metres, suggested that the Hollywoodbets Greyville 2200m should be well within his stamina capacity and a fast pace will maximise that asset.
Yeni concluded, “I’m going in with confidence and hopefully I will get a bit of luck in running as well.”
Yeni’s best finishes in the July have been third, fourth, fifth and sixth respectively and he revealed he had been unlucky on one or two occasions too.
By David Thiselton