There were no real surprises in the announcement of the Vodacom Durban July final field at Gateway yesterday and later most of the top contenders landed draws which the connections were happy with.
The last July log reflected the final field except for Grade 3 Track and Ball Derby winner Roy Had Enough coming from outside the top 20, leapfrogging Camphoratus and Zillzaal, and filling the berth vacated by the scratched Hero’s Honour.
The connections of Camphoratus might have felt unlucky not to get in ahead of four-year-old fillies Miyabi Gold and Fresnaye as she won the Grade 1 Empress Club Stakes, where she beat Fresnaye comfortably, as opposed to the latter pair’s respective Grade 3 and Grade 2 wins. However, what likely worked against her was she was beaten by Fresnaye in the Grade 2 WSB 1900 in May by 0,60 lengths. They ran at level weights in that race and will run at level weights in the July.
There is very little separating Miyabi Gold and Fresnaye with latter winning the Grade 3 Victress Stakes over 1800m in December by 1,50 lengths from Miyabi Gold, from whom she was receiving 2kg.
Some would argue that Bunker Hunt, merit rated 112 and a strong-finishing third in the KRA Guineas, 1,65 lengths behind the fancied July horse Twist Of Fate, could have been included ahead of his stablemate Miyabi Gold. The latter is 2kg under sufferance carrying 52kg, whereas Bunker Hunt would have been only 1,5kg under sufferance carrying 53kg. Bunker Hunt is also a progressive three-year-old who should be starting to come into his own, whereas Miyabi Gold, merit rated 105, is quite an exposed four-year-old. On the other hand Miyabi Gold did win the Grade 2 Gold Bracelet over 2000m at Greyville and the Listed Scarlet Lady over 1750m, whereas Bunker Hunt is yet to win a stakes race.
However, all in all there won’t be too many gripes.
The favourite Hawwaam drew three and his Mike de Kock-trained stablemate Barahin also drew well in six.
The defending champion Do It Again drew ten and his Justin Snaith-trained stablemate Made To Conquer, runner up last year drew one outside of him in eleven. Another Snaith-trained horse Doublemint drew one outside of them in 12 and the other two stablemates Magnificent Seven and Miyabi Gold drew eight and five respectively.
Eric Sands was very happy with his draw of four for third favourite Rainbow Bridge.
The Sun Met third-placed Head Honcho, trained by Andre Nel drew badly in 19.
Joey Ramsden has in the past seen the funny side of the perennial wide draws he tends to land at the VDJ final field and draw ceremony but yet another couple of bad draws was too much for him this time and he was clearly unhappy. His charges Twist Of Fate and Fresnaye landed draws 17 and 13 respectively.
Dennis Drier was hoping to land a draw from one to ten so was thrilled with draw nine for his filly Lady In Black.
Sean Tarry’s charges Tilbury Fort and Return Flight landed draws one and two respectively and stablemate Legal Eagle draw seven.
The Frank Robinson-trained Roy Had Enough landed draw 15 and the Johan Janse van Vuuren-trained Divine Odyssey is drawn 16.
Glen Kotzen, winning trainer ten years ago with Big City Life, watched on as Eyes Wide Open drew wide in 18. However, he was philosophical and said at least he could stay out of trouble and added there also appeared to be a lot of pace around him.
The reserve runners, the Robbie Hill-trained Camphoratus and the Sean Tarry-trained Zillzaal, drew 14 and 20 respectively.
By David Thiselton