By Andrew Harrison
Justin Snaith is going all out to add to his Vodacom Durban July winning tally with four entries among the 18 runners carded to face starter Solly Ngcobo at Hollywoodbets Greyville on Saturday, July 3.
Snaith goes into next Saturday’s race off a hat-trick of wins, having saddled Belgarion to win last year and prior to that Do It Again to back-to-back victories.
Both horses are in the line-up again come next Saturday and will spear-head Snaith’s fifth winning bid in Africa’s greatest horse race, chasing the seven successes of the legendary Syd Laird and the six of Terrance Millard.
S’Manga Khumalo, successful on Heavy Metal for Sean Tarry in 2013, will partner last year’s winner Belgarion with stable rider Richard Fourie, who is contracted to ride for leading owner Nick Jonsson, aboard Do It Again who will be out to make history as the only horse to have won the race three times. Both have drawn wide at 11 and 16 respectively.
Other Snaith runners are supplementary entry Nexus with Craig Zackey booked, and Crown Towers who will see Louis Mxothwa having his first ride in the big race.
Top weight Rainbow Bridge has it all to do, giving lumps of weight to all and it may well prove to be a bridge too far at his third attempt. However, the gelding has struck up a good rapport with rider Luke Ferraris and a change of running tactics has seen him unbeaten in his last three, the Gr1 Cape Met, the Gr3 Drill Hall Stakes and the Gr1 Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge. Weight will be an issue but Ferraris will need to avoid traffic in a notoriously rough race from his pole position draw but he could still pull it off for owner Mike Rattray who has been trying to win the race for over four decades.
Muzi Yeni will have been mightily relieved to see Gr1 Woolavington 2000 and Triple Tiara champion War Of Athena defect to the Gr1 Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes otherwise he would have had to choose between the filly and current ante-post favourite Got The Greenlight.
Joey Soma has had the Vodacom Durban July in his sights since Got The Greenlight’s runner-up to Belgarion last year and the colt does appear to have had the ideal preparation and looks well in at the weights. He has drawn a little wide at 14 so should be able to avoid any early scrimmaging for position.
Three-year-olds have an outstanding record in this race in recent years and this season’s crop has proved to be outstanding. In their favour is that all will carry the minimum weight for their age group.
Vaughan Marshall launches a two-pronged assault with Linebacker and Rascallion who drew alongside each other at 7 and 6 respectively.
Linebacker has reeled off three big races in succession, the Gr1 Jonsson Workwear Cape Derby, the Gr2 WSB Guineas and the Gr1 Daily News 2000 and goes into the contest on the back of an ideal preparation that harks back to one of the best winners of this race, Illustrador, who followed a similar path into the race.
Rascallion finished runner-up to Linebacker in both the Daily News 2000 and the Jonsson Workwear Cape Derby with little more than a length between the stable companions at the line.
Kommetdieding has had to play second fiddle to Linebacker in both the WSB Guineas and the Daily News 2000 and the casualty has been regular jockey Sihle Cele who has been replaced by Gavin Lerena. Kommetdieding was a short-priced favourite for the Jonsson Workwear Cape Derby before side-lined by injury. He comfortably beat Rascallion in the Gr3 Politician Stakes and although beaten in both recent outings, he is far from a spent force. He pulled the widest gate at 18 but wide draws have been more to the fore in recent running’s with Golden Ducat, fourth last year, jumping from gate 18.
Gareth van Zyl saddles the progressive filly She’s A Keeper who may still not have shown her full potential. She was a smart winner of the WSB 1900 and she carries bottom weight from a mid-field draw of 10. This is a major step up in class but her record speaks for itself and off a light weight she is far from a hopeful entry.
Running Brave is a class mare but has been off her game in recent outings which is a concern.
Johnny Hero was supplemented after winning the Gr3 Jubilee Handicap where he carried bottom weight of 52kg. However, trainer Tyrone Zackey almost pulled off a major upset with Samanjemanje in 2012 so Jonny Hero is not one to write of lightly.
Sean Tarry saddled back-to-back wins with Heavy Metal and Pomodoro and sends out two runners in Cirillo and Shah Akbar.
Cirillo is ever game but has not won beyond 1400m although finishing third behind Got The Greenlight in the Gr1 Champion’s Challenge over 2000m on the tough Turffontein track.
Shah Akbar finished fourth to Linebacker in the Daily News 2000 with both Rascallion and Kommetdieding ahead of him but he could still prove competitive from a stable that has a knack of getting horses to peak on the day.