With the Vodacom Durban July in mind and less than three lengths separating ten of the 11 horse’s home, one wonders what can be read into the result of the World Sports Betting 1900 run at Greyville on Saturday.
For a number of years, the race lost some of its lustre as a pointer to the July when shunted around the calendar but now its positioning and the fact that the winner is guaranteed a July place, has restored its importance as a big-race pointer – but one does have to read between the lines.
Eyes Wide Open may have had his July ticket stamped, no doubt a relief for Glen Kotzen, but the trainers of those hopefuls behind him will have been equally pleased given the blanket finish.
It is seldom that it’s the trainer that is reluctant to geld, it’s more often the owners with stars in their eyes that are the problem when it comes to an underperforming colt.
But Kotzen has obviously worked wonders with Eyes Wide Open, the colt’s blood picture more the problem than an ornery disposition which is usually the case for gelding, and Eyes Wide Open could well make a stallion given his pedigree and now enhanced racing record.
But reading on a local website, there were respondents to the argument that races like this should not be used as a ‘practice’ race. Horses should not be raced ‘unfit’ was the writer’s reasoning.
Extrapolate this to the Comrades Marathon that will be run early next month and the legendary ten-time winner Bruce Fordyce. Fordyce ‘practiced’ hard before the Comrades but was always content to finish in the pack in his build-up races. He timed his preparation to peak on Comrades day.
So too racehorse trainers. None of Saturday’s runners would have gone out ‘not trying’ or unfit and given the blanket finish, ‘unfit’ is a bit harsh.
Not for nothing is horse racing labelled the ‘brain game’ as punters need to understand the mechanics of training and racing to make informed decisions.
Eyes Wide Open may well have won on Saturday, and he needed to given his recent record if he was to be sure of a place in the 18 horse July field as he was outside of the 20 runners published in the initial July log.
Others in Saturday’s field were already high up on the July log and certain of their place but did they need to peak on Saturday or on Saturday, July 6.
Similarly, Head Honcho in the Pinnacle Stakes that followed, looked the proverbial certainty given the weights. But former Racing Editor of the Daily News, Stewart Ramsay, pointed out that all Head Honcho’s good recent form had been over further and that he had not run since the Sun Met.
So, the question punters will have needed to ask is whether the weight advantage would be enough to overcome the lay-off and course and distance specialist Matador Man?
The answer was no!
By Andrew Harrison