While Hawwaam, Do It Again and Rainbow Bridge dominate the headlines and the betting for next month’s Vodacom Durban July, a closer look at the weights that were published on Tuesday provide food for thought.
There was little separating Do It Again and Rainbow Bridge in the Sun Met and the recent Rising Sun Gold Challenge, Rainbow Bridge arguably a little unlucky in the Challenge not to have finished closer to his rival. They met at level weights in both those races. In the VDJ Rainbow Bridge will be in receipt of 0.5kg which could swing it in his favour.
Hawwaam has been the ‘talking horse’ of the race but to be fair, he has yet to be truly tested and not in open company, a point borne out by the fact that he carries 56kg, one 1kg less than the maximum weight for a three-year-old male. He had everything go his way in the Daily News 2000 where the winner would ordinarily cop a penalty. In this instance the handicappers saw fit to leave his handicap mark unchanged.
Second-placed Twist Of Fate was clearly second best in the Daily News but was less than two lengths behind and well ahead of the balance. His merit rating was also unchanged but he is now in receipt of 2kg from Hawwaam.
Head Honcho warmed up nicely in a Pinnacle Stakes behind Matador Man and was only caught late in the Sun Met, again at level weights with Rainbow Bridge and Do It Again. He is now 1kg better off with the former and 1.5kg with the latter.
Legal Eagle has fallen steadily in the ratings as his form has dropped off and he did not look anywhere himself at his last start where he was difficult to load and never really raised a gallop. However, on his day he looks well weighted off 55kg. His wellbeing must be taken on trust as Sean Tarry has a knack of peaking his charges on the day.
Lady In Black was three lengths back to Do It Again in the Gold Challenge and will meet her rival on 4kg better terms in the VDJ. She will be stretched to 2200m for the first time but was under a length back to Oh Susanna and Fiorella in the Woolavington 2000 last season. She carries 53.5kg, 1.5kg more than the 52kg minimum benchmark for fillies – 59kg being the maximum.
Barring the top seven in the weights, the balance are under sufferance.
However, two that catch the eye are Barahin and Eyes Wide Open.
In a recent television interview, Mike de Kock was bullish about the chances of Barahin, believing that he comes into the race under the radar. Barahin’s career to date has been interrupted by various training setbacks and although well beaten by Hawwaam in the SA Classic, De Kock said that he had not been at his best on the day and was lengths better than that effort which was a good one in its self. Barahin races off the minimum 53kg.
Last season’s Investec Cape Derby winner Eyes Wide Open, who had Do It Again behind him that day, missed the VDJ cut last year and had been winless since that triumph before a narrow victory in the WSB 1900 booked his place in this year’s line-up.
More recently he was a fast-closing second in the Cup Trial, a race run at a muddling pace.
Added to that, in his last two runs he beat Magnificent Seven, Doublemint and Made To Conquer and meets them all on better terms
Glen Kotzen said he had been battling with the colt haemoconcentrating but was reluctant to geld as he believed that as a Grade 1 winner the son of Dynasty would make a stallion. The blood problem appears to have been solved and off the 53kg minimum, Eyes Wide Open will be in receipt of 7kg from Do It Again – even if it is over a year down the line.
The draw for barrier positions takes place at Gateway Mall next Tuesday and will add further intrigue to what is already a fascinating contest.
By Andrew Harrison