The three-year-old Dynasty filly Bela-Bela is likely to become the outright favourite for the R4.25-million, Grade 1 Vodacom Durban July over 2 200m at Greyville Racecourse on July 2 after drawing an ideal three barrier draw at the official announcement of the final field and barrier draw function at the Theatre Of Champions.
The Justin Snaith-trained three-year-old, set to carry 54.5kg in the big race, had been joint favourite with stable companion Black Arthur before the draw but after the three-year-old Silvano colt drew 17 he is likely to ease out in the betting. He could, however, come in two places if the 18 horses guaranteed a run stand firm and the two reserves, Trophy Wife and Deputy Jud, drop away.
Jockey Anthony Delpech, looking for his fifth win in the country’s premier event, will have been delighted with the filly’s draw claiming that Bela-Bela is probably the second best filly he has ever ridden, the best being Igugu on which he won the race from a 10 draw under 55kg in 2011.
Looking at the field, there do not appear to be any hard luck stories among those that did not make the cut but what racegoers will be anxious to find out is which of the three Jooste runners – Rabada, The Conglomerate and St Tropez – Anton Marcus will be riding as no jockeys had been declared for any of them.
One man that will be happy, and it was reflected in the screams of joy by joint owner Rika Van Vuuren, is Mike Azzie whose three-year-old Triple Crown winner Abashiri drew barrier two. The colt has a big weight to shoulder at 59kg and the good draw will certainly make his task easier.
Stable companion Rabada drew at 12 but that is not necessarily a bad draw.
Cape trainer Joey Ramsden was clearly unimpressed when he drew 20 barrier for The Conglomerate and 11 for St Tropez but Dean Kannemeyer looked pleased when he drew the five berth for his Betting World 1900 winner Solid Speed.
Solid Speed, the five-year-old Dynasty gelding is one of only five runners in the race that are correctly weighted according to their basic ratings with the other 13 runners including the filly Bela-Bela being under sufferance, the filly by 0.5kg.
The 20 horses carded, along with horses competing in other feature races on the big day, will be on show in the July Gallops at Greyville early on Thursday morning.