“Any horse can win on any given day.” Angel Cordero, Jr. (US jockey)
A topsy-turvy betting market from day one for this year’s Vodacom Durban July. The original declarations excluded several horses that many expected to be in the running and consequently Hollywood took the bold step to bet on ‘First Acceptors only’, assuring punters that should other horses be declared to run, they would not form part of this original July field.
Cape champion Capetown Noir was a weak 7/1 favourite with star-mare Beach Beauty priced up at 8/1 alongside last year’s favourite Jackson. Bookies took no chances with ‘talking horse’ Yorker priced at 12/1 and he was backed in to 9/1. The Gauteng Guineas winner Tellina was on offer at 10/1 and Liancourt Rock was an early fancy and shortened from 33/1 to 20/1 while last year’s winner Pomodoro was freely on offer at 16/1.
In early May, the De Kock yard saw fit to nominate rising star Vercingetorix and he topped the boards at 6/1. Then came the expected declaration of Cherry On The Top which was immediately installed as the new favourite for the race at 5/1 with everything else drifting a point or two or more.
At this stage Pomodoro was on offer at 20/1, Run For It was at 25/1, Hill Fifty Four was at 25/1 and Wagner had been backed from long odds of 125/1 to 40/1.
Jet Explorer burst onto the scene as a potential July winner with an emphatic victory in the Greyville 1900 and was immediately nominated by his connections. He was generously priced up at 40/1 initially but those odds tumbled to 20/1 very quickly.
|Cherry On The Top|
The Daily News blanket finish included No Worries and Wylie Hall which both suddenly became ‘big runners’, while Vercingetorix was reported as a doubtful starter by his connections. In addition, Cherry On The Top was withdrawn from the race. All the while there was talk that the Snaith stable had planned a different route for the recently gelded but quality performer Run For It. He cantered home in a plate race, defeating Summer Cup winner Wagner and he shifted to close to the top of the boards.
And so to the final field. Who would get in, who would be left out? An unenviable task for the panel. They were on a hiding to nothing and a hiding they have received! The main gripes have been the omission of top 3-year-olds Tellina and Rock Cocktail but that’s a debate for another time.
The Tarry yard is looking for a double. Alongside last year’s winner Pomodoro they have the consistent Heavy Metal, Whiteline Fever and E-Jet. The strength of money would tell you that Pomodoro is the right one from the stable as he has been backed in to outright favourite at 4/1. Can he do the double and emulate some champions of the past? He will get all the assistance from champion elect, jockey Piere Strydom but he does shoulder top weight of 60kg.
Heavy Metal opened at 33/1 and is now trading at around 22/1, while Whiteline Fever who was best-priced at 55/1 is on offer at 20/1.
E-Jet is the outsider from the stable at 25/1, with 80/1 having been traded in the early market.
The Snaith yard has two huge runners in the race. Run For It has been solidly supported and is now clear second favourite at 6/1 (some shrewd punters got 66/1 in the early betting) while Jet Explorer is currently at around 8/1. Both horses have top class jockeys and will no doubt be in the firing line.
The Classic Horses
The three-year-olds in the race are headed by Capetown Noir. Trained by the hugely experienced Dean Kannemeyer, this is a top horse who is still available at generous odds of 15/2. The July has been his target from the get-go and he has been at or near the top of the bookies boards from the beginning. The only question mark is, will he stay?
Wylie Hall has shown some tremendous form in Gauteng and confirmed his well-being in the Daily News. From an opening call of 100/1 he is currently trading at 14/1.
Classic winner Love Struck comes into the race as a 66/1 chance despite winning features in both Cape Town and Johannesburg, while the well-travelled Wild One from the modest Jeff Freedman yard would be a fairytale winner at 40/1.
The one-time winner, surprise inclusion, Gothic is a 66/1 chance in anybody’s book but who’s to say he can’t run a place – remember the Oppenheimer/Azzie Service Ace who ran fourth a couple of years ago at 100/1.
The only filly in the race is the Woodruff trained Do You Remember. A model of consistency, she cracked a graded victory in the Woolavington and clearly has bundles of class. On offer at 33/1 she would not be a surprise winner. Remember too that Woodruff is the son-in-law of Terrance Millard who trained so many fillies and mares to win this race.
Top of the list of hard-knocking racehorses must be Hill Fifty Four. A gutsy Cape performer, just short of top-class he now trades at 13/1 after being a 25/1 shot in the opening betting.
|Hill Fifty Four|
Astro News has done his share of travelling to Cape Town, Gauteng and now KZN but he showed he is worthy of his place with a facile win at Clairwood in the Cup Trial. Originally priced at 70/1, he eased to 125/1 in May but is now being solidly supported at 18/1.
Tribal Dance is another tough and genuine sort who featured prominently in the Greyville 1900 after a stint in Cape Town. He is on offer at 30/1 from a best priced 45/1 in mid-June.
Lucky to be There
With the controversy over the final field there are a couple of horses who must be considered lucky to be in the race. Apart from the marginal 3-year olds, Punta Arenas falls into this category. Whilst his trainer, the canny Stan Elley, has maintained he has targeted the race all along, the horse’s form certainly falls short of a likely winner. However, he was backed from an early 100/1 to 33/1 and now trades at around 22/1.
The Summer Cup winner Wagner will come into this race as an ‘alumite strike’ and he is available at 20/1, a fraction of the 350/1 taken back in May!
In summing up, this is the most open July in years. There are many punters with ‘great’ prices taken on their horses but there will only be one victor.
Will the holders of 66/1 Run For It cash in, or will the punters with 110/1 Seal or 350/1 Wagner be waving their winnings about. When in doubt, go with you first feeling.
For me that’s Capetown Noir. No doubt he will be primed to perfection and I fancy him to get home from Pomodoro, Jet Explorer and Do You Remember.
Study your Winning Form (all the winners are there), work it all out and have a punt – there’s no better fun than backing a July winner!!
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