Before talking about two selections for Ayr (a comprehensive preview of the German Derby is available here too) I have to talk about the result of the 2022 Durban July.
My selections didn’t ran badly, especially 30/1 shot Airways Law produced a huge performance from the back off the field finishing 6th against a slow pace.
But nobody in the race stood a chance against super filly Sparkling Water. Largely, that must be said, because all other jockeys were outridden by brilliant S’manga Khumalo, who maximised the chance of his mount by doing absolutely everything right.
Obviously he’s got a bit of history in the race. Khumalo is a legitimate word-class jockey. He must have studied the pace scenario really well and had a match plan that was executed to perfection. A slow pace was always likely to happen and that would significantly hamper the chances of those at the back of the field.
Sparkling Water was drawn in #12. Not ideal but not a big problem either. Khumalo pushed the filly out of the gates and crossed over towards the inside rail in an instant. The race was only a few seconds old but the winning move was already done.
From there on Sparkling Water travelled smoothly, always handy, with a clear passage, and Khumalo, knowing the filly stays all day and night, committed as soon as they reached the home straight. Two furlongs from home he called on everything and the filly responded. Once she hit the front she wasn’t for catching. It was beautiful to watch.
The master that is Mike De Kock was sweet on Sparkling Water’s chances all week. He told everyone who dared to ask. Quite how she could go off 16/1 is a mystery. She was more than half the price only a few days earlier.
I didn’t spot this large drift either. But I also didn’t rate her chances. In my mind she was a stayer. Too slow in this field of top-class 10 furlong horses in a race that was sure to be run at a pedestrian pace. I didn’t account for the magic S’manga Khumalo produced in the saddle on the day.
Safe Passage didn’t have the best of trips. He’s better than that but also tired late and probably doesn’t want to go beyond 10 furlongs ideally. Jet Dark ran a massive race in 2nd. Ridden like a non-stayer, he saw it out strong from off the pace.
Two-times champion Do It Again ran his usual strong race. Last years winner Kommetdieding also finished with plenty of credit in 5th place off a big weight. Under WFA terms, wherever he goes next, he’ll be once again the horse to beat.
Linebacker encountered a miserable trip. Heavily bumped early on, he got hampered turning for home again. Pomp And Power was backed into favouritism, pulled his chances away as expected.
In summary: I didn’t back the winner but hugely enjoyed the build-up to the July and it was an entertaining race as well. The Durban July is one of my favourite races of the entire year. it proved it all again in 2022.
4.37 Ayr: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 2f
This looks like a matchup between Lituus and and Acoustic on paper. The Grant Tuer horse may improve for the trip after an encouraging recent effort, but doesn’t appear generously handicapped on balance.
Acoustic in contract off 49 may well be. He’s yet to run particularly fast, a best topspeed of 46 is nothing to shout about. But he looks sure to improve for the additional furlong, having nearly gotten back to the eventual winner over the slightly shorter 9 furlongs at Hamilton the last time.
He was right up with the pace from the start, came under pressure from over three furlongs out, but kept going. Headed 1.5 furlongs from home, you would have expected him to fade away, but instead he rallied back strongly in the final furlong.
Acoustic clearly has every chance to stay 10 furlongs anyway, given he is out of a Singspiel mare. He also appears to be in fine shape, having been an eyecatcher two back at Weatherby when completely messing up at the start in first time blinkers.
10pts win – Acoustic @ 5/1
5.12 Ayr: Classified Stakes, 1m
I like both Bankawi and Hello Power. Both caught my eye the last times, although Hello Power on more occasions. The WFA weight swing tips the balance to the filly, who has drifted a bit to a price that’s too big now.
The three-year-old is still quite unexposed on turf but show clear signs of acting on the surface when impressing in the middle section of her recent Doncaster run. She faded into third but only because she was asked way too much too early.
This significant change of gear she showed there hints a bit of talent, though, at least on this modest level. I quite liked her gutsy Southwell victory earlier in the year and thought she was a bit unlucky not finish closer last time out at Wolverhampton.
The fact she got going again after hampered over 1 furlong out proves her nice attitude.
The question mark is whether she can stretch out over a mile. Her pedigree gives her a chance. The way she finishes her races too. I doubt there’ll be a mad pace on, which will help. Although I hope they won’t drop her in and race settle in midfield not too far off the pace.
10pts win Hello Power @ 7/2