Most French Navy fans would have been thrilled to see the strapping Sean Tarry-trained horse land a seemingly plum draw of four for the Vodacom Durban July, but jockey Weichong Marwing had in fact been hoping for a wide draw.
A wider draw would have given Marwing more options.
He explained in a slow paced race it was sometimes easier to find a position from a wide draw. A lot of the wider drawn horses will be attempting to get to the front down the back straight and should be able to achieve this in a slow paced race. Once they are ahead they are able to move inward towards the rail. They can then relax and wait for the next wave of wider drawn horses to come around them. Thereby, in a slow paced race, a widely drawn horse could possibly find itself in a handy position with cover.
Meanwhile, with each horse which has come around the field to the front, the well drawn horses will have been shuffled backwards. Of course the well drawn horses can prevent all of this from happening by holding their positions. However, they would need to use up energy to keep the wider horses out, and this is especially the case at Greyville because the back straight is uphill.
French Navy’s problem is his relative lack of gate speed. From a low draw it looks likely he has little option but to sit at the back early and hope for a fast pace. However, from a wide draw Marwing would have been able to drop him out if adjudging the pace to be quick, or send him up there if adjudging it to be slow. As the great jockey Michael “Muis” Roberts once said, the first fifty metres of a race are in fact the most important.
Marwing was philosophical. He said the draw was a factor which could not be changed and he would simply have to re-plan his strategy.
In the two renewals of the July to date which have been run on the narrower track, the horse drawn in barrier six crossed the line first, i.e. Wylie Hall and Power King respectively. Draw six this year belongs to the Tarry-trained Samurai Blade.
However, Legislate was awarded the race in the boardroom two years ago at the expense of Wylie Hall and he jumped from draw eleven. If the reserve runners come out, the horse drawn eleven this year will be Rabada. The latter is engaged to run in the KZN Million Mile this Sunday.
The last horse to take in both the Million Mile and the July was Love Struck in 2013 and he finished downfield in both races.