The Vodacom Durban July day Pick pool is estimated to reach R15 million and the first leg, the Grade 3 DSTv Gold Vase over 3000m is the first hurdle punters face.
The race is run under merit rated band conditions, which favours females as they also receive a 2,5kg allowance.
The order from best to worst weighted horses according to official merit ratings is as follows and the number of kgs they are under sufferance is in brackets: Sunshine Silk, Dynasty’s Blossom (1kg), Flichity By Farr (1kg), Strathdon (2kg), Walter Smoothie (2,5kg), Mangrove (3,5kg), Wealthy (3,5kg), Pacific Chestnut (4,5kg), Run Rhino Run (4,5kg), Wonderous Climber (5kg), Warfarer (5,5kg), Paths Of Victory (5,5kg), Ballad Of The Sea (6kg), Multi Gold (6kg), Evolver (6,5kg), Major Return (7,5kg).
However, staying races have often made fools of handicappers as some horses are still establishing themselves over marathon trips. Horses at the bottom of the weights can never be ignored in these events.
The best weighted horse Sunshine Silk has developed into an exciting stayer and comes off a prep run over 1400m that followed a hattrick of staying wins from 2400m to 3200m including the Gold Bowl. Being by Silvano she should enjoy Greyville and although she has a wide draw she is capable of running on from behind.
Topweight Strathdon looks to have enjoyed a fine preparation and will be a big runner if running to his best. From his wide draw the jockey will have to play it by ear. He is capable of running on from behind if dropped out and that is the likely tactic as he did not appear to enjoy leading last time. He hasn’t won for 567 days but is classy and always has a shout.
Flichity By Farr comes off a good second in the Track And Ball Oaks and finished second in this race last year when running on strongly from off the pace. She is a tough filly and the two week gap from her last run will suit her. She will need a fast pace to be at her best although in the Oaks last time she was closer to the pace than usual turning for home from a good draw, so they might try and slot her in here from her wide draw.
Dynasty’s Blossom raced a bit strongly in the Track And Ball Oaks and can do better if settling well from a good draw of seven. She has gone close over 2800m before and has done well over 3200m. She should be cherry ripe and is one of the dark horses.
The lightweight Major Return is an interesting runner and his form has been working out well. He is by Vodacom Durban July winner Bold Silvano out of a Sadler’s Wells mare so should stay the trip with that combination. On the other hand his half-brother is the useful sprinter Pacific Spirit, but he does run like stayer and when sent over 2400m in his penultimate start he burst clear and was then only caught by the exciting staying prospect Horace. He is drawn well in two.
Walter Smoothie has a good draw and the last time he had such a draw he finished 2,10 lengths behind Sunshine Silk. He has some class and is 3kg better off with her from that run so must have a chance.
Paths Of Victory should relish this trip judging on his running on third over 2400m at Scottsville three runs ago in April. He was beaten just 0,25 lengths by Strathdon in that race and faces him on the same terms, which will be in his favour as he should have made 1kg of improvement since then according to the weight for age scale if the distances are taken into account.
Warfarer was running on over 2400m three runs ago at Scottsville and he was beaten just 2,45 lengths by Strathdon in that race and is now half-a-kilogram better off. He is a dark horse as a big staying type who should enjoy this trip, although he does have a wide draw.
Wonderous Climber took to staying races well but after five wins from 2200m to 2400m the handicapper might have caught up with him, although he does have a good draw and should be staying on in the straight.
Pacific Chestnut has his third run since winning the Kenilworth Cup over 3200m but didn’t inspire confidence last time when never dangerous in the Lonsdale Stirrup Cup where he was beaten eight lengths.
Wealthy has won over 2400m before and is capable of running on from behind so is interesting stepped up to this trip.
Mangrove looks like an out and out stayer but he has been one paced in the finish in his two 2400m efforts and will need dramatic improvement.
Run Rhino Run won a race over course and distance by 21 lengths in October 2017 so has ability but is quirky and in his first run after layoff last time he was beaten 31 lengths and was not striding out.
Evolver has hard knocking staying form in Port Elizabeth and Yvette Bremner has had a fantastic season raiding other centres. He can’t be written off.
Ballad Of The Sea is 3kg better off with Evolver for a four length beating over 3200m at Fairview so there is not much in it.
Multi Gold is half-a-kilogram better off with Evolver for a 0,8 length beating over 3600m at Fairview, so there is also not much between those two.
However, there is not much between Ballad Of The Sea and Pacific Chestnut which casts doubt on the strength of that PE formline.
By David Thiselton