Sean Tarry’s two Vodacom Durban July winners, Pomodoro and Heavy Metal, jumped off at odds of 28/1 and 16/1 respectively and this perhaps augurs well for this year’s race where he runs 20/1 shot Shango and 35/1 chance Tierra Del Fuego (Track & Ball odds).
Tarry’s pair could be viewed as two of the most unexposed horses in the field.
Shango was still immature when winning the prestigious Grade 2 TAB/Betting World Dingaans going away in impressive style. The Captain Of All colt later had to miss the Grade 2 Gauteng Guineas after a minor setback so did not have an ideal preparation for the Grade 1 SA Classic and at the time of the latter race the yard had a significant number of horses suffering from high temperatures. He duly ran below par but then proved he would stay the July trip by going close in the Grade 1 SA Derby. His next run was in the Grade 1 Daily News 2000 and Tarry said beforehand, “Shango is doing very well but I think this run will bring him on for the July. He does well in Durban and once there I expect to see him make good improvement.” He was duly left a touch flat-footed at the top of the straight before running on strongest of all for a 3,05 length fourth. His recent preparation was thus similar to Pomodoro’s 2012 July preparation. Pomodoro followed a dead-heat victory in the SA Derby with a staying on 4,75 length fifth in the Daily News before winning the July. On the downside for Shango the Daily News this year was run in a crawling 125.8 seconds compared to the 120.02 time of Pomodoro’s year in 2012. A further negative to the form is that Western Fort finished just 0,6 behind Shango in the SA Derby but was then beaten 17,75 lengths by Hawwaam in the Grade 1 Premier’s Champions Challenge. However, the latter race was almost certainly not Western Fort’s run as he was asked to lead, whereas he had come from off the pace in the SA Derby.
On the other hand four-year-old Tierra Del Fuego’s run in the Champions Challenge makes him possibly one of the best value horses in the July.
Tarry said conservative tactics had been deliberately deployed in the Champions Challenge as it was the first time Tierra Del Fuego had been trying a middle distance trip. The long striding Skitt Skizzle colt ran on well from near the back of the field for a five length third. The Turffontein 2000m trip is tough and on that performance, especially considering he was running on all the way to the line, he should stay the Hollywoodbets Greyville 2200m. He finished just 1,50 lengths behind Soqrat in the Champions Challenge but is now 4kg better off with him in the July. Soqrat is quoted by Track & Ball as a 13/1 chance and Tierra Del Fuego is 22 points longer.
Tierra Del Fuego jumps from draw eleven which is the draw, together with draw 8, which has produced the most July winners in the last 70 years.
Shango also has a good draw of seven.
Shango is known as a lazy work horse but stretched out nicely at Hollywoodbets Greyville at the July Gallops on Wednesday. Tarry said, as he had predicted, Shango was thriving in Durban.
Tarry was also pleased with Tierra Del Fuego’s July gallop at Randjesfontein earlier in the week.
Gavin Lerena has ridden both horses often, including being aboard Tierra Del Fuego in the Champions Challenge and Shango in the SA Derby.
However, his official riding weight is 57kg so he will be aboard Tierra Del Fuego, who carries 55kg off a 124 merit rating.
Lyle Hewitson, whose riding weight is 52kg, will be aboard Shango, who carries 53kg but off a 116 merit rating is officially 4kg under sufferance. Hewitson rode Shango in the latter’s first four career starts.
Tarry concluded by pointing out that Lerena felt Tierra Del Fuego had been worth slimming 2kg to ride. This horse does appear to be way to big a price in the July market and will be especially worth considering for a top six finish. Shango is a more realistic price and it should not be forgotten that he jumped at odds of 36/1 when winning the Dingaans.
By David Thiselton