Tag Archives: Durban July

Monday Selections: 1st August 2022

I have one selection on this (Irish) bank holiday Monday. But first I’ve got to take a quick lock back at what was a wonderful and pretty profitable month of racing.

July 2022:
46 bets, 9 winners = 162.5pts profit & 35% ROI

It was a fine, fine month from a betting perspective. And possibly even more important to me personally: every month this season was in profit. It’s not always been easy.

The second half of July proved once again how contrasting the good and bad times can be in this game. You have to stay levelheaded and put the emotions aside to succeed. Easier said than done, I must admit.

Clearly my highlight was backing Victor Loza at 12.5/1 to win comfortably from the front at Epsom. I was watching the race in a pub with some friends which made it even more enjoyable.

Betting aside July was a wonderful month purely as a racing fan with top-class action all over the world: Durban July, German Derby, Eclipse…. absolutely loved it.

……….

7.15 Carlisle: Class 6 Handicap, 5f

A speculative choice at this time of the day given the chances will be significantly enhanced if the rain arrives in time for Gorgeous General.

His turf form reads awful on the surface, but he didn’t have many opportunities to run with ease in the ground, even though he produced a career best on turf judged on speed ratings over this CD on good to soft ground only four weeks ago.

Rain is expected to arrive from late afternoon on at Carlisle, and a significant portion of it. That might be enough to turn the going to good to soft come 7.15pm.

Gorgeous General caught the eye a number of times this year already. Certainly over the CD run last month, when not getting a clear run. Also a strong finish last time out from off the pace in a race dominated by the front-runner was another clear sign that he’s in excellent form.

Yet the handicapper has “rewarded” those fine performances with dropping him in the ratings. This is an open race, he may struggle to get into it from off the pace with space probably coming at a premium. But I feel he’s so well handicapped that at the price it’s worth a go.

10pts win – Gorgeous General @ 8/1

Sunday Selections: 3rd July 2022

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

Durban July Preview 2022

It’s D-Day! Durban July Day. The first Saturday in Jule – time for South Africa’s biggest race. It’s also the ever exciting clash of the younger versus the older. 2022 shapes as the most compelling renewal of this special battle.

Last years winner Kommetdieding is here to defend his crown. A year older, a year wiser? Certainly a few kilos heavier. A featherweight of 53kg carried him to victory twelve month ago. 7 Kilos more, about 15lb more to carry today doesn’t make it an easy task to go back to back.

He didn’t have an ideal prep leading into the July, but showed his class when winning the Cape Town Met, the premier Weight-For-Age contest, over 2000m earlier in January. He also impressed in the public gallops this week.

The 2021 runner-up Linebacker is here too. He ran a huge race in defeat. Although, he seemed to run out of energy in the final 100 metres. Nine furlongs just stretches him to the max.

He hasn’t won in over year, but ran well against tough competition. He comes into the race with a good weight and will be a huge runner. A possibly slow pace will be to his benefit.

Two-times July champion Do It Again is now a 7-year-old. Can he do it again? He was desperately unlucky last year. He looks in great shape and should run another strong race.

Many argue Pomp And Power is the most talented horse in South Africa at the moment. Watching him win the Cape Derby earlier this year certainly leaves a lasting impression.

He ran with plenty of credit in defeat in the Guineas and Daily News 2000 too. There is only one big problem: he’s got a mind of his own. He can pull his races away in the first couple of furlongs, as he’s done now a number of times lately.

There will be a lack of pace today and that is a real concern. In the gallops this week he looked as unruly as ever and it’s hard to see him lasting the trip. If the Snaith team somehow found a magical fix in the last few days to get him drop his head him he wins today. It’s hard to see, though.

Aragosta is one of the four chances for Mike De Kock. A talented 3-year-old. A Grade 1 winner over further than the July trip. He hang his chances away in the Daily News when last seen. But he impressed how he won the SA Derby and is likely to come on for the recent run.

His speed rating is one of the lowest coming into this race but he’s got the #1 draw and should be able to be in the right place at the right time when the field turns for home. He was my ante-post selection at 16/1 but having been unable to back him with any bookie who offered early odds I have to leave alone him today, now that he’s significantly shorter.

Jet Dark has top-class form over shorter. He ran on well in the Gold Challenge from off the pace after pulling quite hard early on. I struggle to see the appeal stepping up to 11 furlongs, though. He looks a miler, at best can push out to 10 furlongs, but the additional distance will be a struggle.

Al Muthana produced a career best in the Gold Challenge to beat strong opposition thanks to a nice turn of foot. If he can stay the additional furlong he is in with a huge chance. De Kock said they will “ride him for luck”. I’m not sure luck is enough to carry him to victory.

The filly Sparkling Water is well fancied after a narrow defeat in the Champions Challenge back in April. She travelled notably well that day and didn’t quite get the clearest of runs. But ultimately she is what she is and doesn’t look classy enough over this shorter trip I feel, especially with the expectation of a slow pace surely not playing to her strengths.

The winner of the Champions Challenge, Astrix, is an interesting longshot here again, but ultimately he is the price he is for a good reason.

The talk of town is Hoedspruit as potentially the best handicapped horse in the race. He lacks the class of the best and was found under WFA terms on the big occasions. But the July is a Handicap and that makes him a compelling runner.

He ran well in the Met against the best older horses giving tons of weight away on ratings. He didn’t stood a real chance but didn’t get the best of runs either that day and finished easily in 6th only 4.25 lengths beaten.

He meets the likes of Kommetdieding and Linebacker on much better terms today, receiving lumps of weight. He won a Grade 2 over 9 furlongs earlier this year and was seen after the Met only once, for his July prep. He caught the eye when dropping back to a mile and producing a lovely change of gear from the back of the field to finish much the strongest.

Justin Snaith clearly protected his handicap mark this season, always having the July in mind. He’s not a superstar, but clearly tremendously well-handicapped if one believes he can improve by a couple of pounds.

The dark horse of the race is Airways Law. He only got into the race yesterday. He was first reserve after Zapatillas became a non-runner. He won the designated Cup Trial in June, having improved quite dramatically starting out as a 68 rated handicapper only in October last year.

He won three on the bounce, having ran mostly on the Greyville polytrack, where he produced some stunning performances thanks to a potent turn of foot.

Switched to turf for the Dolphins Cup Trial he prevailed in fine style, bringing his form to the next level. Subsequently supplemented for the July, he missed the cut initially as the Handicapper didn’t award him a rating high enough to get into the field. Now he’s here, racing off 53kg. He’s effectively out of the weights given his official mark of 108, though.

Certainly no dark horse is favourite Safe Passage. His ultra-impressive Daily News 2000 victory propelled him to the top of the market. Far from fully tuned up, as De Kock alluded to before the race, he clearly surprised his trainer that day and one could not be impressed with his rapid acceleration in the closing stages of the Grade 1 contest over 2000 metres.

Many wonder what can he do if fully fit? He showed plenty of talent winning the Dingaans as a 2-year-old and the Gauteng Guineas earlier this year.

The son of Silvano keeps improving all the time and even though he has to give 1.5kg to the other 3-year-olds he looks very much capable of being even further ahead of them. He is the favourite for all the right reasons.

There are a few question marks over the trip, though. Whether he fully stays the additional furlong remains to be seen. His sire gives him a chance. His dam raises questions. The fact the pace won’t be blistering will give him every chance to do so, nonetheless.

Selection:
From the older horses Linebacker makes the most appeal. He looks prepped all season long for the July. Safe Passage is the most likeliest winner in my book, nonetheless.

But from a betting perspective I bet the risk and possible reward that Hoedspruit is a bit better than his 116 rating. The son of 2014 July winner Legislate has to find a bit of improvement, there is no question about it. But the swing in the weights is very much in his favour if he can. He is a big, strong, galloping horse. He can travel and he can accelerate.

I’ halve my stake, though, because I’m sweet on Airways Law, too. I was hoping he would get in to the July, and thankfully he did. He has to improve even more so than Hoedspruit. But he’s quite unexposed over this trip and on turf. He’s a son of Legislate, too.

I simply love a strong traveller. And he is certainly that. But he also finds tons when asked to go and win a race. This lad looks potentially a bit special. Granted, he has a lot to find with the best. He may not be good enough. It’s risk and reward.

5pts win – Hoedspruit @ 14/1
5pts win – Airways Law @ 30/1

Monday Selections: July, 9th 2018

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Made To Conquer did as his name promised: conquering the Durban July! Turned out pace wise and how the race could turn out tactically went as analysed in my race preview. What wasn’t forecasted, though, that stable mate Do It Again would come sweeping past my selection with half a furlong to go.

The pair came miles clear of the rest of the field. But no doubt, Do It Again was well on top in the end and a deserved winner of South Africa’s most prestigious race. There was no pace in the early stages whatsoever so jockey Grant Van Niekerk decided to go for a dramatic move  when maneuvering race favourite African Night Sky from the back of the field to the lead halfway through the race.

Didn’t end well. The 3/1 chance faded into insignificance in the closing stages. No fairytale ending for Jeff Lloyd either. The retiring veteran jockey hit the post, but remains luckless in a bid to win the July.

……

2.00 Ayr: Class 5 Novice Stakes, 6f

You can pick big holes into the three market leaders so it might be worth siding with the man who knows how to win these type of races: Mark Johnston. His charge Royal Big Night was well supported on his debut nine days ago but appeared plenty green enough when jumping left at the start and seemed clueless in the closing stages.

The way he faded in the final two furlongs is slightly worrying, but the positive early speed he showed soon after the start is enough for me to believe this lad can do much better with the run under his belt.

This colt is related to some nice dirt winners in the US, so the rattling fast ground will certainly to his liking. He has to improve from his first run, however dropping two classes from a class 3 York Novice race into this here seems on paper at least a bit easier.

He also gets a good deal of weight from those with winning form in the book. That’s an added bonus.

Selection:
10pts win – Royal Big Night @9/2 Sky

………

5.55 Wolverhampton: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4f

I find it noteworthy that jockey Kieren O’Neill makes the journey to Wolverhampton for his only ride on the entire day at the peak of the British flat season. That enhances the already strong case I feel able to be making for bottom weight Trinitas.

A tree-times raced maiden on his handicap debut, he did achieve little on pure merit of his results and ran according to his SP’s: without a chance. However, further analysis of his last two starts provide a different answer.

The Nathaniel colt did more than he should in the parts of both races burning a lot of fuel in what turned out be two pretty hot maiden contests. Though, he wasn’t there to win, only to gain experience. He should have plenty of it now plus showed glimpses of ability too.

A step up in trip to 12f is likely what he needs. So with that in mind, an opening mark off 64 could underestimate the ability ready to be unlocked in Trinitas. Going from pole position in stall 1 with he has every chance to make this a winning handicap debut.

Selection:
10pts win – Trinitas @ 9/1 Coral

……

7.00 Ripon: Class 5 Handicap, 1m

Ripon and a biggish field over a mile – you got to need a bit of luck if you aren’t up with the pace. Hence my selection Al Ozzdi is risky. However, he is the only three year old in the race and can make his weight advantage count – the Simon Crisford charge is certainly handicapped to win.

Last time out at Windsor was a slight disappointment, given Al Ozzdi showed an awful lot of potential when finishing third in a hot Yarmouth maiden on his penultimate outing. Only 5th in the end, well beaten – not good. But there were reasons.

Windsor can be a tricky track for hold up horses and Al Ozzdi wasn’t the fastest out of the blocks to be closer to the pace than trailing. You got to get the breaks here and he didn’t. A wall of horses in front, when finally angled out and in the clear the bird was flown.

This still quite lightly raced lad has found an ideal opportunity to score. The long home straight should help jockey Paul Hanagan to move out in time this time.

Selection:
10pts win – Al Ozzdi @ 9.5/1 PP/VC

Big Race Preview: Durban July 2018

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South Africa’s most prestigious race intrigues year after year with a a massive field size including at least two handful of runners you can all see playing their part in the outcome of the race. A tricky contest to work out and one where favourites have a hard time.

The winner paid 17/1 or bigger the last three editions alone, and the last two years no single figure priced horses even made it into the money. Tactics pay an important part but the pace angle is one that used to gather little traction in the discussions leading up to the big race in the past, I feel.

Different this time. It’s the discussion topic number one. A muddling affair is feared. That will make life tough for those who come from behind naturally or those who end up in rear due to their wide draw.

It also poses a difficult decision for those jockey sitting on horses who need a proper stamina test but who are drawn wide or who wouldn’t naturally like to be too close to the pace.

Either way, the hot favourite African Night Sky from the powerful Justin Snaith yard may well be the most talented individual in the race but is clearly a price to forget. He stays the trip and had an excellent preparation, however his tendency to miss the break on occasions plus the need to be dropped in will make life incredibly tough for the four-year old gelding.

My eyes are firmly set on his stable mate Made To Conquer, instead. What can go wrong with a name like that?! In seriousness, this supremely talented son of Dynasty has been coming through the ranks, improving bit by bit while showing excellent desire combined with the ability to change gear.

Made To Conquer has been winning four on the trot. Albeit largely in much lower grade. The progressive gelding took his time, though since September last year he won six of his seven starts and showed a step up in class to graded company isn’t a problem when landing the Grade 3 Stirrup Cup off a big weight. Officially only a head between himself and multiple Stakes winner Strathdon, Made To Conquer held the stable mate under a hands and heels ride rather easily.

A step up to the highest level is only the right consequence. Made To Conquer is a staying type. He already won over 2.500 meters. So, dropping down to the 2.200 meters in the July is a slight question mark, particularly in the light of the predicted pace.

That says, despite a wider than ideal draw, it is likely that Jeff Lloyd will make plenty of use of the featherweight and the stamina his mount possesses and march forward early on to be close enough to the pace and take it up if needed. This is as much as he said himself: he ain’t gonna sit around.

If he holds true to this then Made To Conquer will surely be in the right position – which nearly always in the July is closer to the pace than too far off. Lloyd can send him on his way hitting top gear entering the home straight confidently knowing the gelding will stay all day long and clearly relishes having a fight on hands too.

For Jeff Lloyd it would bring an incredibly career in the saddle to a fairytaile ending. The 56 year old has never won the July despite being a six-times South African champion jockey. It’s going to be one last hurray before retirement beckons right after.

Selection:
10pts win – Made To Conquer @ 9/1 Sky

Saturday Selections: July, 7th 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

Another nice winner today – Saroog did that impressively at Sandown this afternoon, following on from Archimedes’s excellent win on Wednesday. A bit on a roll at the moment…. long may it last after some desperate weeks preceding it.

Eclipse tomorrow. No Masar, but quick turnaround for Saxon Warrior. I think I fancy stable mate Happily, who was desperately unlucky in the Diane. However, only a race to watch at given prices and no bet.

It’s also Durban July day. I’ll have a proper look tomorrow morning. Possibly putting up a selection for South Africa’s most prestigious race later on Saturday. Also to look forward to is the return of Mendelssohn at Belmont in the evening.

……..

2.45 Sandown: Class 3 Handicap, 7f

Open contest that is at the mercy of a progressive horse. Manthoor fits the bill. Still generally lightly raced, he showed promise as a juvenile. Particularly his Kempton runner-up performance in September behind now 90 rated (and NTO winner) Corrosive is excellent form.

He returned last month after having undergone a wind OP over the winter. In a poor maiden he didn’t have trouble winning. That was expected. The manner he did, though, was exciting. Travelling well throughout, quickening nicely on the fast ground and holding his pursuers hands and heels in the closing stages.

The form is franked through subsequent handicap placings by the second and third. An opening mark of 84 isn’t easy task but could underestimate the improvement left in Manthoor who may be able to exert himself even better second up from a break and wind surgery.

Selection:
10pts win – Manthoor @ 10/3 WH