Garth Puller has a few runners as a trainer at this year’s Vodacom Durban July, which will mark the 30th anniversary of his brilliant ride on Bush Telegraph in one of history’s most celebrated Julys.
Puller dieted strictly on brown rice and stewed apples to ride Bush Telegraph at 49kg in 1987 and he gave an insight into Anton Marcus’s task this year of slimming down to 54kg to ride the favourite Edict Of Nantes.
“It won’t be a problem for Anton, he has had enough time and will just have to watch his diet and increase his amount of exercise.”
Puller reckoned Edict Of Nantes would be in the top three, although his tip to win is Black Arthur, who created a little bit of controversy by being included in the final field ahead of first reserve runner Horizon.
Black Arthur’s trainer Justin Snaith said at a panel discussion on Friday evening, “The one good thing is we will now be able to see.” He was referring to Horizon now being in the field and facing Black Arthur after the unfortunate scratching of one of his own runners Elusive Silva.
Puller has a chance in the first race with the progressive Silvano filly Flying Silver, who jumps from a tricky draw of ten in the MR 84 Handicap for fillies and mares over 1400m with Sherman Brown up.
He said, “It is a tough race and the two to beat in my opinion are Silver Class and Lesiure Trip.”
Puller said his sprinting gelding Asstar had always enjoyed KZN and his late first appearance this year was due to him not being able to find a suitable race for him coupled with him getting him fit at Summerveld, where he has been for a while. Asstar runs in the eighth race, a MR 104 handicap over 1000m on the poly, and Brown rides from a tricky draw of nine. Last year Asstar won both of his Champions Season 1000m starts and one of them was in the Listed Umgeni Handicap over Saturday’s course and distance. In his only other start he finished third in the Grade 2 Post Merchants over 1200m. However, Puller was annoyed Asstar is still two points higher in the merit ratings than he was for the Umgeni, despite having not won a race since. In the handicapper’s defence he did finish second in the Listed Southeaster Sprint over 1100m to Tevez in December.
Puller has Mieque’s Approval colt Ryker in the KZN Yearling Sale Million over 1300m on the turf.
He said, “He is a nice type but is in the deep end from an outside draw, although he won’t disgrace himself. ” He showed a nice turn of foot when winning his debut over 1000m and his full-sister Preamble won over 1400m. However, the big talking horse in this race is the 17/20 favourite Al Mariarchi, who finished third in the Grade 1 Tsogo Sun Medallion and comes from the unstoppable yard of Brett Crawford.
Puller had always wanted to try Rio De La Plata over 3000m and tries him in the Grade 3 SABC Gold Vase but he couldn’t be confident about his or Ever Dear’s chances as they are considerably out at the weights.