All of Sean Tarry’s Vodacom Durban July day runners were prepared in Johannesburg with the exception of Silver God but for the Gold Cup meeting all of the participants who ran on July day will be prepared at Summerveld.
He said Grade 1 Jonsson Workwear Garden Province winner Celtic Sea and Grade 2 Durban Golden Horseshoe winner Eden Roc were both likely to run in the Grade 1 Mercury Sprint and the Grade 1 Premier’s Champion Stakes respectively.
The only niggling doubt for Tarry about their participation was that a bad run for either could affect their probable positions as Equus Award champions elect.
The Golden Horseshoe runner up Putontheredlight is also expected to line up in the Premier’s. Tarry has also nominated Shango, who won at Scottsville yesterday, as well as Rock The Globe, who finished a 4,65 length ninth to Eden Roc on Saturday.
However, Tarry will have to think about his Grade 1-winning sprinter Chimichuri Run’s participation in the Grade 1 Mercury Sprint over 1200m as he drew 27 out of 27. Celtic Sea drew well in barrier position eight for the Mercury, Trip To Heaven drew eleven and Africa Rising drew 15.
He has two entries in the day’s headliner, the Grade 3 eLan Gold Cup. Liege, who won the Lonsdale Stirrup Cup, and Shenanigans, who won the Betting World 2200, drew 16 and 7 respectively out of 26 nominations.
Tarry has plum draws in the Grade 1 Champions Cup over 1800m, one and two for Cirillo and Matador Man respectively and Captain And Master drew five.
He also has three nominations in the Grade 1 Thekwini, the promising Victoria Paige as well as one-time winners Keep Smiling and Escape To Victory. Victoria Paige finished a 4,90 length eighth on Saturday in the Grade 2 Zulu Kingdom Explorer Golden Slipper over 1400m from a wide but will much prefer this trip and should have a better barrier position having drawn 14 out of 26 nominations.
Eden Roc showed an exceptional turn of foot to get up on Saturday in the Golden Horsehoe over 1400m. Tarry rates him highly and felt he would enjoy the 1600m trip. He said, “I think he is very good. He is progressive, is a good mover and covers ground. He ticks all the boxes. He is by Var but is out of a family who have done well for me over 2000m in the past and his style of running will also help him get the trip.”
He also rates Putontheredlight and said, “I think he is a top horse. His female line doesn’t suggest he will get much further but if he takes after his father Pomodoro there will be no stamina doubts.”
He concluded about this pair, “It would be foolhardy for me to make predictions on what will happen next year but both have potential.”
Tarry had earned stakes of R24,636,825 at the time of writing, R2,057,362 clear of Justin Snaith and R2,292,762 clear of Mike de Kock.
However, Snaith has no entries in either the Champions Cup or Thekwini.
He does have a good hand in the Gold Cup with Strathdon, Made To Conquer, Elusive Silva and Doublemint. His Grade 1 winning sprinter Kasimir is the favourite to win the Mercury.
Mike de Kock has a good hand in the Champions Cup with the top class Buffalo Bill Cody and the three-time Grade 1 winner Soqrat, although the latter did draw wide.
He has interestingly entered the two-year-old Frosted Gold in both the Mercury Sprint and the Premier’s Champions Stakes. He also has Alyaasaat in the Mercury and Alibi Guy and Var And Away in the Premier’s.
His pair Palace Of Dreams and Lady Defiance have both drawn wide in the Thekwini and he has no entries in the Gold Cup.
The feature races on Gold Cup day include the R1,25 million eLan Gold Cup, the R1 million WSB Champions Cup, the R1 million Mercury Sprint, the R750,000 Premier’s Champions Stakes, the R750,000 Thekwini Stakes, the R400,000 Gold Bracelet, the R300,000 Umkhomazi Stakes, the R300,000 The Debutante as well as two R150,000 Listed races, so there are opportunities for both Snaith and De Kock to catch up.
However, the bookmakers make Tarry the hot favourite to win his fourth championship. He is at 2,5/10 and both Snaith and De Kock are 3,65/1.
Tarry said the decision to keep the July day participants at Summerveld had nothing to do with the theory that horses can travel down to KZN twice in a season but not three times. He pointed out that Celtic Sea had travelled down to KZN for all three of her SA Champions Season starts and that hadn’t stopped her winning the Garden Province on Saturday.
Tarry said the decision was made due to the short three week gap between the July and the Gold Cup meetings and this would put the participation of any horse who did not travel well back to Johannesburg in jeopardy.
Meanwhile, Legal Eagle, who finished second last in the July on Saturday will remain in training.
Tarry said, “We normally avoid Durban but tried it this year and it didn’t work. We will give him the same break as he has always had and then follow the same Cape Town-Johannesburg campaign that has worked so well. If he shows any signs of being lacklustre he will be retired.”
By David Thiselton