Pomodoro wins from widest draw of all
Pomodoro roared into the Vodacom Durban July record books at Greyville yesterday, getting up in the final stride to pip the outsider Smanjemanje, giving Piere ‘Striker’ Strydom his third victory in the big race and the first for both trainer Sean Tarry and owner and breeder Chris van Niekerk. Tarry and Van Niekerk buried the memory of their close second with Buy And Sell in 2007 thanks to a brilliant ride by Strydom, and Pomodoro joined the likes of the top horses Dynasty and Flaming Rock to have won the race from the widest draw of all. However, it was a very close call as the Tyrone Zackey-trained Smanjemanje, a rank outsider at 50-1 ridden by July debutant Grant van Niekerk, came from behind to get his nose in front, only for Pomodoro to fight back and win by a whisker.
The Mike Bass-trained Chesalon finished third, giving Jeff Lloyd an amazing ninth third place finish in the big race. Lloyd flew out from Australia hoping to bury his July hoodoo and when his mount quickened well from midfield to hit the front close to home, he felt he could win the race. But Chesalon tired late and Lloyd had to hold him on a straight line as the horse began hanging in.
The Gavin van Zyl-trained Eton Square cocked a snoot at a few people by staying on strongly from a handy position for fourth place in just his fifth career outing, as there were some who felt he hadn’t done enough to justify his place in the final field. However, punters were left stunned when Jackson, who had been a hot favourite since the first nominations, found nothing in the straight having found a handy position from a wide draw. Jackson was slightly keen early on and that together with his weight of 57kg might have been his undoing.
Another surprise was that there were no Mike de Kock runners in the first four, although Solo Traveller and Vettel finished in the all important fifth and sixth places, with the Tote paying six places.
Jackson started 18-10 favourite while Ilha Bela was supported into 11-2 with English Garden and Gorongosa being the only other two in single figures at 15-2.
Pomodoro was a 20-1 shot.
Top Seller set the pace at a decent clip and there was a scramble for position with Jackson fighting the rider for a moment towards the outside. Strydom meanwhile chose to bide his time coming up the hill in the back straight on the outside of runners. Jackson managed to slot on to the rail as they came around the turn behind Top Seller and Vettel. Strydom then made his move and joined Jackson on his outside. Eton Square was also handy, Chesalon and Smanjemanje were in midfield positions, while the fancied Ilha Bela and Pierre Jourdan were both way back.
There was a calvary charge off the false rail and Pomodoro quickened well but then Chesalon appeared on the outside running on strongly with Smanjemanje also going well just on his inside. Jackson had found daylight but didn’t quicken in the fashion the public have become used to. Chesalon wobbled late and when Smanjemanje caught Pomodoro a massive upset looked on the cards, but the latter fought back and they went across the line as one. The replay showed that Pomodoro had got his head down at the right time to win by a nostril.
Tarry praised Strydom for the ride and said modestly that he couldn’t take much of the credit. In reality he did an amazing job in preparing the horse, giving him one Durban run in the Daily News 2000, having come off a hard run when sharing the Grade 1 SA Derby over 2 450m at Turffontein just five weeks earlier. A shoulder niggle on Pomodoro was discovered and sorted out after his Daily News run and Tarry reckoned in the build up to the big race that the three-year-old Jet Master colt had never moved better. Van Niekerk, a loyal owner of Tarry’s, was initially unsure whether he had won, but was thrilled when the result was displayed. Pomodoro was also bred by Van Niekerk.