Twelve horses will face the starter in the traditionally important Vodacom Durban July pointer, the Grade 2 WSB 1900, at Greyville on Saturday and eleven of them are entered in the country’s premier horseracing event.
Saturday’s race is run under merit rated band conditions and female runners receive a further 2,5kg allowance.
The horses are listed below in sequential order according to how well they are weighted according to official merit ratings and in brackets is the number of kilograms they are under sufferance:
Fresnaye (best weighted), Camphoratus (1,5kg), Eyes Wide Open (2kg), Fiorella (2kg), Made To Conquer (2,5kg), Doosra (2,5kg), Doublemint (2,5kg), Magnificent Seven (2,5kg), Kampala Campari (3kg), Dawn Assault (3,5kg), Orpheus (3,5kg), Silver God (8kg).
However, official merit ratings are not always a true reflection in South African handicapping due to the effect the “guidelines” have on them. For example Doublemint ran to a 117 when finishing sixth in the Sun Met if the official line horse, Undercover Agent, is used as the yardstick. However, a clause in the guidelines which only allows upward adjustment to the top five in Grade 1 and Grade 2 races saw him escaping punishment.
Doublemint could thus be seen as the proverbial penalty kick,, but, on the other hand, races are not run on paper.
However, adding to his chances is that Anton “Superman” Marcus is aboard. Furthermore, he has a good draw of four.
Doublemint has not run since the Sun Met, so will be a bit ring rusty, although he did gallop on the Greyville turf recently under Marcus.
The Twice Over colt is trained by Justin Snaith who won this race last year for the second time. He also has Made To Conquer, and Magnificent Seven engaged on Saturday so has a fine chance of making it a third.
The conditions of this race are attractive for July qualifiers as the winner cannot be raised more than six points and placed horses will not incur any merit rating raise unless requested.
Doublemint and Magnificent Seven can both afford to win without any change to their July weight due to the presence in the big race of their 125 merit rated stablemate Do It Again.
They are both merit rated 104 at present and off a potential 110 rating they would carry 53kg in the July and still be 0,5kg under sufferance.
However, Made To Conquer, who finished runner up in the July last year after winning the Grade 3 Lonsdale Stirrup, is merit rated 108 and a potential 114 rating would see him having to carry 54,5kg in the July.
Magnificent Seven has not run since winning the Grade 2 New Turf Carriers Stayers over 2800m on Sun Met day. This progressive gelding by Horse Chestnut has won seven of his last nine starts and will be effective over the 1900m trip as he won the Listed Algoa Cup over 2000m last October. He has a fair draw of five and should make his presence felt. He had Luke Ferraris aboard in a recent Greyville grass gallop. The latter retains the ride, suggesting there is a chance he might have his first ever July ride.
July runner up Made To Conquer finished eleventh in the Met in his last start. He was beaten 5,25 lengths by Doublemint and now has to give the latter 2kg, so is up against it. However, he does enjoy Greyville, as most progeny of Dynasty do. He put up a good recent grass gallop at Greyville together with July winner Do It Again. He has a tricky draw of seven and stable jockey Richard Fourie, who will ride Do It Again in the July, is aboard.
Fresnaye’s three runs in Johannesburg were a touch disappointing, but she had hardknocking form in Cape Town and should appreciate being back at the coast where the air is thicker. This twice Grade 1 Paddock Stakes-placed filly is ideally distance suited but has a tough draw of eleven under S’Manga Khumalo.
Camphoratus proved her class by winning the Grade 1 Empress Club over 1600m and if left alone for long enough will likely produce another blistering finishing effort here. She has a chance from a good draw of two.
Fiorella is distance suited having just failed in the Woolavington 2000 last year. She beat Fresnaye by a quarter of a length in the Empress Club but was way behind her in the Grade 1 Majorca. She needs to bounce back to form but has a tough task from the widest draw of all.
Kampala Campari disappointed in this race last year from this same pole position draw but if it pans out better this time he will be a threat being half-a-kilogram better off with Doublemint for a mere 0,2 length beating in the Peninsula over 1800m. However, Doublemint comes out on top on Met form. The Met was Kampala Campari’s last run.
Eyes Wide Open will have come on from his last outing in the Sledgehammer. The Glen Kotzen yard believe they have this former Cape Derby winner back to his best as they have addressed a haemoconcentration problem he suffered in the summer. He has a tough draw of nine.
Orpheus ran them ragged in the Sledgehammer over 1800m on the poly. The jockeys will be more wary this time but he is still an interesting contender.
Doosra has a tough task at the weights and the trip might stretch him.
Dawn Assault is a resolute galloper who is capable of surprising, but he would probably prefer a less tight course.
Silver God is well bred being a half-brother to William Longsword and Real Princess but he will need to show dramatic improvement.
It is too early to make a selection as the runners still have to complete their preparations.
By David Thiselton