If the recent history of the great race if anything is to go by tomorrow’s Vodacom Durban July will be won by an outsider and the favourite will finish nowhere.
The average starting price of the winner in the last five years is 18-1 and during that time no favourite has even finished in the frame. But the statistics suggest it will be a straight fight between the three-year-olds and the four-year-olds – they have split the last ten runnings 50:50 with only dead-heater Pocket Power succeeding among the older horses.
Edict Of Nantes (11-2 with Betting World yesterday morning) lost his position at the head of the market during the week but, to this writer at least, he has looked the most likely winner since the Daily News when he beat Al Sahem half a length despite going wide at the turn. Don’t worry about his 13 draw. Anton Marcus is almost guaranteed to have him away smartly and slotted in a good position. The one negative is his rider’s assessment that he might be better over a more galloping course.
Al Sahem (9-2) is a significant half kilo better but his one draw is a potential nightmare that risks seeing him shuffled back and no July winner has started from such a low slot in at least the last 15 years. Also, as an SA Derby winner, he may not be suited by the muddling pace at which this race is so often run. That said, Sean Tarry is having the season of his life but so too is Brett Crawford.
The selection committee came in for criticism for including Black Arthur but the money has poured on Grant van Niekerk’s mount in the last few days. Seventh 12 months ago, his third in the Cup Trial is better than it looks on paper as he was hampered in the straight. But 5-1 looks much too short.
Fellow Justin Snaith runner It’s My Turn makes more appeal at 17-2 despite his bad draw. Rider Piere Strydom is bidding for a record fifth July win as is Marcus and Anthony Depelch whose chance on 16-1 shot Nightingale looks more of a place one than a winning one.
Ten Gun Salute (17-2) could get into the shake-up but the record of top weights suggests that 60kg is too great a cross to bear for last year’s runner-up Marinaresco (16-1). However Safe Harbour at 25-1 surely has strong claims. She has gone close in a string of Grade 1s and was running on well at the end of the Woolavington. She looks the pick of the outsiders.
History suggests that last year’s winner The Conglomerate is unlikely to repeat the performance but Joey Ramsden is more than happy with him and the 17-2 shot has come in for significant support in the last three days. Dean Kannemeyer, bidding for a fourth July win, relies on Mr Winsome but 18-1 is not overstating the horse’s chance.
Just Sensual may beat Bela-Bela (favourite in last year’s July) in the Jonsson Workwear Garden Province and Al Mariachi looks another for Crawford in the KZN Yearling Sale Million.