One of the most competitive Vodacom Durban July fields for some years, that will go to battle over 2 200m at Greyville in Durban on July 7, was unveiled at the special function at Greyville yesterday.
While the winners of the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and the Sun Met – Legal Eagle and Oh Susanna – will not be in action as a matter of choice by their connections, the field to face the starter on the day contains many top performers in the country’s important races including the winner’s of the Premier’s Champion Challenge, the Sansui Summer Cup, the Cup Trial, World Sports Betting 1900, the Daisy Guineas and Daisy Fillies Guineas, the Jubilee Handicap, Lonsdale Stirrup Cup and South African Oaks.
In many cases the runners-up in those races will also be in action which will ensure a high-quality group of the country’s thoroughbreds and a race that could be a lot more open than the short price odds on offer on favourite African Night Sky might suggest.
As expected, Cape trainer Justin Snaith will have a busy day with five runners to saddle and his Highveld counterpart, Sean Tarry, will be kept busy preparing three runners for the race. But only one of the eight runners from the two stables, the Snaith-trained Silvano mare Star Express, has drawn a pen inside barrier 10 with stable companion and big race favourite, African Night Sky, filling the 10 berth.
The draws for the other Snaith runners are Elusive Silver (14), Do It Again (16) and Made To Conquer (12).
The Tarry runners did not fare well at all in the draw with Sansui Summer Cup winner Liege drawing at 18, Matador Man at 15 and Tilbury Fort at 20.
With second reserve runner Crowd Pleaser drawing on the rail, the former Highveld Triple Crown winner Abashiri from the Mike Azzie stable got the best draw at two and is likely to jump from the inside berth on the day with trainer Paul Lafferty drawing the number three berth for his Ideal World gelding, Dark Moon Rising.
There were no surprise exclusions from the field which basically fell in line with the betting on the race. Of the top 23 in the betting, the only runners excluded were Platinum Prince, 22-1, and Royal Crusade at 33-1.
With the announcement of the final field and the draws, the betting for the race could well change considerably, particularly when the names of the seven missing jockeys, including that for favourite African Night Sky, are announced.
The official and compulsory public gallops at Greyville for the Vodacom Durban July runners will take place from 7am on Thursday with horses still stabled out of the area having to complete a filmed and timed gallop in the area they are stabled which can be aired on Tellytrack on Thursday.
The gallops will be followed by a panel discussion on the gallops and views of the panelists on how they see the big race panning out on July 7.