Massive excitement as Big City Life wins
Big City Life stormed to victory in the 2009 Vodacom Durban July, giving both trainer Glen Kotzen and jockey Greg Cheyne their first wins in the big race. The result confirmed the confidence of Kotzen, who had described the bay three-year-old colt as a “freak” in the lead up to the big race.
The horse had repeated the feat of the great Dynasty in winning all of the Grade 1 Cape Derby, the Grade 2 KRA Guineas, the Grade 1 Daily News 2000 and the Vodacom Durban July in his three-year-old season.
Sired by Casey Tibbs, Big City Life was bred by Kotzen’s mother-in-law and was named by Kotzen’s young son, Kuyan.
The horse was sent to the Equimark Ready To Run Sale as a two-year-old and was bought by bloodstock agent, Tony Warren. The syndicate of owners Raymond Deacon, Andre Hauptfleisch, Glen Mitchell and Kotzen himself was then assembled. Before the July, Hennie Basson, a business partner of Andre Hauptfleisch’s, also became a shareholder.
The owners were ecstatic with the win. Deacon entertained the crowd with his animated celebrations before describing the win as a “dream come true.” He described how his love of horseracing had started as a young six-year-old and he recalled pretending to ride the July horse, Chichester, on the family couch during the radio commentary of the 1972 July.
The day brought disappointment for the legion of Pocket Power fans, who had flocked to the course hoping to see the six-year-old champion write yet another chapter in his great career. He ran a great race, considering the slow pace, but finished just out of the placings.
The first three places were filled by three-year-olds. This was a surprise to many pundits, who had questioned the strength of the three-year-old crop throughout the season. The second and third place finishers were 55-1 shot Zirconeum and 100-1 shot Forest Path, both trained by current champion trainer, Mike de Kock, and ridden by Anthony Delpech and Warren Kennedy respectively. Thundering Jet, a 70-1 shot who gave young Muzi Yeni his first ride in the big race, denied his Mike Bass yard stable companion, Pocket Power, the fourth place cheque. The quartet paid a massive R416533.20.
All four of the placed horses lay in handy positions in the running. Pocket Power came in for heavy support on course and started 12-10 favourite, while Big City Life started 11-2 second favourite together with Kapil. Big City Life broke very well and Greg Cheyne rushed him to the front where he secured the rail before Forest Path took over in front. Aluminium lay second, Big City Life third, Zirconeum fourth and Thundering Jet fifth.
As they turned for home Cheyne made the winning move as he angled Big City Life outward and sliced through a gap between the front two horses. The field resembled an arrowhead with Big City Life out in front as they charged down the straight. Zirconeum loomed up dangerously at the 300m mark, while Forest Path was also staying on.
Pocket Power and his sister River Jetez had started running on from behind on the outside, but the slow pace had left them with too hard a task.
In the latter stages Big City Life found extra and doggedly repelled Zirconeum to win by 0,75 lengths with Forest Path a further 1,25 lengths back. Thundering Jet was 0,75 lengths behind Forest Path. Pocket Power did well to come from as far back as he did to finish just a head behind the placed horses.
Big City Life had looked an absolute picture in the parade ring, with a brilliant shine to his coat, and it was no surprise to see him come home victorious.