Twice Vodacom Durban July-winning trainer Justin Snaith has his own personal fancy among his four runners in the big race, but believed it would be unfair to name the horse because of the nature of the race.
“It all depends on how the race pans out and also if the best horse wins he or she would have to be a superstar because the weights are designed to give every one of the 18 horses a chance. If Abashiri won carrying 59kg or Bela-Bela won giving just 1kg to the three-year-olds males, you would have to say, wow superstar! But if the race was run five times in the same day you would probably get five different results.”
Snaith said a couple of weeks back he was not bothered by the pundits who were saying this year’s Vodacom Durban July could not be won by a three-year-old.
He said, “I don’t care if people are saying this is a weak three-year-old crop, because I know my three-year-olds are certainly good enough to win the race.”
Bela-Bela, Black Arthur and It’s My Turn are officially 2kg, 0,5kg and 2,5kg under sufferance respectively at the weights. Snaith had said, “In six months time they won’t have those ratings.” In his opinion the innate ability of all three is better than their merit ratings suggest.
He used the Cape Derby to emphasise the point, “They rated It’s My Turn after his two lengths Cape Derby win only 101, which was a surprise. They didn’t seem to rate the field and there is now a question whether they were right or not.” At the time the general feeling was the Million Dollar race had diluted the strength of the Cape Derby field. However, the form of the Cape Derby has now turned out to be exceptionally strong, with the like of Marinaresco (3rd), Black Arthur (4th) and Liege (9th) among the eight winners which have come out of the race.
Furthermore, whilst the form of both Black Arthur and It’s My Turn is now looking strong, Anthony Delpech has still opted to ride Bela-Bela, which says a lot about how good she must be.
Justin’s father, the former July-winning trainer Chris, digs at his son by saying he is the only trainer in history to have won two Julys without crossing the line in front once. He is referring to Dancer’s Daughter dead-heating in 2008 and Legislate winning the race in the boardroom in 2014.
Justin quipped, “Maybe I can win it and fill some of the places too, that will keep him quiet for a few years!”
Bela-Bela, like Dancer’s Daughter, is a grey filly, and like Legislate, was bred by Cheveley Stud and sired by Dynasty. Both Dancer’s Daughter and Legislate were three-year-olds when winning the July. It’s My Turn is also by Dynasty, whose progeny love Greyville due to their ability to turn it on so quickly.
Anthony Delpech has won three Graded features for Snaith this SA Champions Season, including doing the Canon Guineas and Daisy Fillies Guineas double on Black Arthur and Bela-Bela respectively. The twice South African Champion jockey holds the record of most wins in a South African season, an incredible 334, and is going for a record-breaking fifth July victory.
Delpech spoke highly of Black Arthur after the Canon Guineas. On the same night he called Bela-Bela “special”, but questioned whether she would stay the 2200m July trip.
However, his opinion on her stamina capacity changed emphatically after she had won the Gr 1 Woolavington 2000 easing up. Furthermore, upon climbing off, he described her as being second only to 2011 July-winner Igugu as the best filly he had ever ridden.
Later that day Delpech rode Investec Cape Derby-winner It’s My Turn to an unlucky second in the Gr 1 Daily New 2000. However, Black Arthur would likely have been his choice of the colts if Bela-Bela had not stood her ground.
In his days as stable jockey to Mike de Kock, Delpech seldom got his big race choices wrong and rode three July winners for the great trainer.
Douglas Whyte, an ex-patriot South African who has won the Hong Kong Championship thirteen times, will arrive on the morning of the race. He will be hoping Black Arthur gives him his first July winner.
Richard Fourie who won the big race on Legislate, albeit via the boardroom, is aboard It’s My Turn. He said, “At Greyville if you have a Dynasty you have a big chance.”
The yard’s other runner Dynamic is also by Dynasty. He has a tougher task than the others as his official merit rating puts him 3kg under sufferance and as a six-year he is obviously more exposed than the three-year-olds. However, he is drawn in pole and his mere participation has made waves as he is the mount of eighteen-year-old apprentice sensation Lyle Hewitson, who joined the professional ranks just over three months ago.
Snaith said he could not have been happier with all of his contenders’ preparations.
He added on the day he looked strong in the last two races and among the few runners he gave chances in those races he mentioned Victoria Lavelle as having been badly weighted in her last race and she was now well weighted, while he said Baritone had been putting in outstanding work.