Will ante-post 10-1 chance Black Arthur get into the Vodacom Durban July is the question which will be on the lips of many punters throughout this week?
Trainer Justin Snaith confirmed the classy son of Silvano would be “spot on” for the big day. He also spoke about his other three July runners, It’s My Turn, Krambambuli and Elusive Silva, and revealed the decision whether to run Bela-Bela in the July or Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes was still up in the air.
Supporters of Black Arthur will be hoping for consistency from the final field selection panellists. In 2014 the panellists found a place for the crack three-year-old Futura, who was near the top of the July betting boards, but who had only managed third in the Cup Trial behind One Cool Dude and Serissa. The Brett Crawford-trained horse went on to become an Equus Horse Of The Year, but by that stage was yet to win a race at Graded or Listed level, although he had won four of his six career starts. Their decision was vindicated when Futura ran third in the July. Last year the panellists found a place for both The Conglomerate and Saratoga Dancer, who had finished third and fourth in the Cup Trial respectively, although the order was reversed after an objection. The decision was once again vindicated as they finished first and fifth in the July respectively.
Black Arthur, in fact, has remarkably similar form to that which The Conglomerate had at this time last year. Both were winners of the Gr 2 Daisy Guineas at Greyville as three-year-olds and both were unlucky to be just out of the placings in the July as three-year-olds. Both then failed to find a place in any of their following Cape Summer season starts and both were consequently given necessary gelding. They then had their first starts as geldings in the Independent On Saturday Drill Hall Stakes where they both stayed on without being a threat. The Conglomerate then crossed the line fourth in the Betting World 1900 and third in the Cup Trial off a merit rating of 101 last year, while Black Arthur, on Saturday, finished third in the Cup Trial off a merit rating of 104. Neither The Conglomerate nor Saratoga Dancer put in the best performance in the Cup Trial of last year, but Black Arthur was the best performer in Saturday’s Cup Trial. He carried topweight and gave 3kg to the winner Elusive Silva, who beat him by 0,55 lengths, and 7kg to the runner up Crowd Pleaser, who beat him by 0,5 lengths.
Jockey Anthony Delpech told Snaith afterwards Black Arthur had just tired slightly in the closing stages, indicating he had only just needed it and would thus be spot on for the July.
Snaith said, “If he does not get in, I hope it is because they have found a good one and not just a horse who has no chance. Black Arthur is proven at Group level, he has had a perfect preparation and just about every punter out there knows he is a horse who can win the race.”
Futura’s inclusion in 2014 was made easier by the scratching of four horses who had been in the top 16 on the final July log, plus the scratching of one of the borderline horses.
Last year the field also cut up, but The Conglomerate and Saratoga Dancer were still included ahead of the like of Trophy Wife, who had recently won a Gr 2, albeit against her own gender, and narrow Summer Cup runner up and Gr 2 Peninsula Handicap third-placed Deo Juvente, who had admittedly pulled up in his final July preparation run in the Jubilee Handicap.
Meanwhile, Snaith said It’s My Turn had not run in another race after his third in the Betting World 1900 simply in order to protect his handicap mark. Off his current 106 merit rating, It’s My Turn will carry 1kg less weight than the 55kg he carried in last year’s July when finishing fourth as a three-year-old. Also, on Sun Met form It’s My Turn has the beating of Marinaresco at the weights and the latter is four points shorter in the betting than him.
Snaith believed Krambambuli deserved his lofty position on the July log after his places in the Gr 2 Premier Trophy and Gr 2 Peninsula, both over 1800 at Kenilworth, and his wins in the Gr 2 Cape Stayers over 2800m and Highland Night Cup over 2400m. He said this horse had been so well at home there had been no need to give him another run before the July.
He said the decision whether to run Bela-Bela in the July or the Jonsson’s Workwear Garden Province Stakes would be left entirely up to her owners and they would have to make the decision before the final declaration stage next Monday.
Snaith was pleased with Elusive Silva’s win in the Cup Trial, especially as he had lost his footing for a moment at the top of the straight. The latter fact was revealed by jockey Richard Fourie and the yard will keep a close eye on Elusive Silva to make sure the incident caused no ill effects.
Snaith will also run Sergeant Hardy in the Mercury Sprint after his good performance on Saturday and he confirmed the big three-year-old sprinter had “loved” Greyville.