National champion jockey elect Warren Kennedy has a good book of rides at the Vodacom Durban July meeting on Saturday and among them is the joint favourite for the big one, the Eric Sands-trained Rainbow Bridge.
He commented on all of his rides.
Asked how Rainbow Bridge was doing he replied, “Fantastic, I’m very happy with him. His prep has been beautiful, he’s feeling good, he’s in a good place. Ready to go.”
Asked if he was hoping for a fast pace, he replied, “Yes, look, he’s very versatile, last time I took him to the front. I’m sure there will be a decent pace on. If it’s a nice even tempo it will suit him, as long as it’s not a crawl, but we’ve got plans in mind in case it does happen, so we’re ready for any pace.”
He rides the Grade 1 Allan Robertson winner Vernichey in the KZN Yearling Sale Million and he said about this Gareth van Zyl-trained Vercingetorix filly, “I feel she’s the best horse in the race, the only Group 1 winner there. It’s never ideal to be drawn out there (14 out of 14) but she’s got oodles of gatespeed and she’s very quick so I should be able to overcome it really easily, I don’t think it’s a major problem for her. She challenged from the 200m last time and fought that horse off so I have no doubt she will stay the trip.”
He rides the Paul Peter-trained Western Fort in the Grade 3 Campanajo 2200. He said, “He’s a lovely little horse. He ran a good race in the Derby, finishing fourth. His only race at Hollywoodbets Greyville he did win, so that’s a plus. He was nominated for the July and what I have felt of him, he’s capable, he’s a really smart horse. He’s a horse to keep an eye on for next season for sure. He tends to wander if he hits the front, so you have to chase horses down and get there as late as possible on him.”
Western Fort’s last run when beaten over 17 lengths by Hawwaam in the Grade 1 Premier’s Champions Challenge can have a line drawn through it as he does not enjoy setting the pace. Kennedy confirmed that he was “not a horse from the front at all.” This is an important point to note as his bare form in that race puts a serious dent in the three-year-old form, including to that of the July third favourite Got The Greenlight.
Kennedy rides the Brett Crawford-trained Dynasty’s Blossom in the Grade 3 DSTV Gold Vase over 3000m and he said, “She’s doing really well, I’m very happy with her work. I feel she would have just about won the Oaks on the work she had shown me but she missed it after it was postponed because this race was coming just a week later. She’s a Gold Cup winner, she’s doing really well, she sees the trip out and I’m really happy with her, she’s fit and well and ready to go. She’s pretty simple to ride, she comes from off them as well, so that draw (12) is not a problem. She’s not far off her best, if not at her best, and she will be running on strongly.”
He rides the Glen Kotzen-trained Jasmine in the Grade 2 Zulu Kingdom Explorer Golden Slipper and said, “It’s probably a little bit short for her, she’s a classic filly looking for a mile plus. She’s still learning, she’s very immature. In her last run she was running in snatches and her gallop at Hollywoodbets Greyville she was still running in snatches, so we have put the blinkers on and there’s been an improvement in her work and her attitude. Caralluma looks the horse to beat the way she won last time but all things being equal I’m expecting a good run from Jasmine and she should give a better account of herself.”
He rides the Paul Peter-trained Portico in the Grade 2 Durban Golden Horseshoe from a wide draw of eleven and said, “He’s a lovely horse, he’s done nothing wrong. When I won on him first time I didn’t feel he was that great, but he’s furnished nicely and has proved me wrong so I’m happy about that. His form has held up really well too and he’s always improving so he could still be anything. I’m 100% sure he will stay the trip and Paul’s horses are firing, you can never discount them.”
He rides the Gavin van Zyl-trained champion filly Gabor in the Grade 1 Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes. He said, “Her run last time was not that good but she really did need it. She has not quite hit the form of her two-year-old career which is a bit worrying and it’s also a very tough race, but hopefully she can recapture that turn of foot she had as a two-year-old and run into the money.”
In the Listed Thukela Handicap he rides Infamous Fox, who won this race last year, and he said, “He is well performed and has to be one of the top three selections, he shouldn’t miss a place.”
By David Thiselton