“Everybody wants to win the Vodacom Durban July.”
The Vodacom Durban July has become South Africa’s premier crowd gathering event due to the perfect blend of sport and glamour .
Winning trainer Dean Kannemeyer shares his views in the aftermath of the event.
Kannemeyer compared his victory on Saturday with his previous two July wins, “The first time I won it with Dynasty (2003) I was over the moon. When I won it with Eyeofthetiger (2006) it was just as exciting and today was even more exciting. Owners, trainers, breeders, jockeys, everybody wants to win the Vodacom Durban July. When you win the July you walk off the grandstand and it is like putting on your Springbok jersey and saying you have arrived. Gary Player says it’s like winning The Masters.”
A particularly satisfying aspect to this year’s win was that he had done it for one of his most loyal, big spending owners Lady Christine Laidlaw. He said, “It was the first time Lady Christine had come to Durban, it was fantastic for her, she’s flown in for the week to see her horses run and the other one Solid Speed ran a very good race (third in the Gr 2 SABC Gold Vase). She was absolutely thrilled and I’m thrilled for my whole team.”
Jehan Malherbe from Form Bloodstock found and bought Power King and added another honour to his glittering career as a bloodstock agent. He also found and bought Eyeofthetiger as a yearling, while he clinched the deals with two Vodacom Durban July winners that Mike de Kock bought in training, Bold Silvano and Igugu.
Kannemeyer spoke of the continual improvement Power King had shown since being gelded last November and said he had also enjoyed an excellent preparation. He had viewed him as well handicapped on his Betting World 1900 run, in which he made up some twelve lengths in the straight to finish second, and on the weight turnarounds with a few horses he met during the Cape Summer Of Champions Season. Furthermore, he was well drawn and receiving weight from some of the three-year-olds and was one of the of the stand outs at Summerveld in the week of the July.
Kannemeyer said, “On all of that we just needed a bit of luck and I thought we’d come into play. In the race I was very happy with where he was sitting, I was actually surprised, I thought he would be further back. So Stuey (Stauart Randolph) got him into a nice position, he came into the straight and had to look for room and then he quickened up well.”
Regarding the objection he said, “You’re always going to worry but the way I read the race was that the second horse was causing interference and my horse was staying in a straight line. But the decision was the right decision by the board so I was pleased about that.”
Kannemeyer continued, “Well done to Maine Chance Farms and Silvano. We bought a few Silvanos this year, we are always a great supporter of Silvano, he is a top stallion. They take a bit of time, but it all worked out. I have a great team behind me.”
Kannemeyer was also pleased to have buried a false perception by winning the July with a four-year-old as opposed to his two previous wins with three-year-olds and quipped, “Some people say Kannemeyer can only train three-year-olds … aah haa … I did also win the Gold Cup with In Writing as a seven-year-old. And I won the Gold Cup with a filly (Colonial Girl 2000), they said I could only train colts!”
A Vodacom Durban July-winning conditioner will usually only bask in glory for an evening, knowing that in this fickle sport you are only as good as your last win.
He will soon have to return to the grindstone, pouring through catalogues and pounding the sales grounds looking for the next champion, early mornings preparing horses and identifying those that will go far. These special individuals must take the baby step of their first race, a nerve-wracking moment for any trainer, and they must then be nurtured along until they are ready to face the cream of their generation.
They can’t be underdone if they are to produce their best and it is even worse if they are “over the top”. Illness and injury are always close at hand with a breed that is notoriously fragile. If ever there are people that are slaves to their profession it is the racehorse trainer, but they usually become very fond of their horses and critical remarks about their horses are not taken kindly. The pressure is great and trainers with July runners often become more and more edgy as the race approaches. Taking all this into account, it is not surprising that the joyous moment of Vodacom Durban July victory can be likened to the release of a steam valve and is usually accompanied by much emotion.