Ashwin Reynolds chuffed to be part of SA history

David Thiselton

Ashwin Reynolds, owner of Vodacom Durban July winner Kommetdieding, found himself sitting quietly for an hour at a time both yesterday and today trying to absorb what he had just achieved.

He is the first person of colour to own a July winner and his racing colours will now be displayed on the wall of honour in Hollywoodbets Greyville’s Classic Room alongside many of South African history’s most famous racing silks.

He said, “I was saying to myself ‘Do you really know what you did?’ It is breathtaking. I can’t explain it. You can buy a horse for R10 million or R55,000, it doesn’t matter, because this is what is is all about. I am really chuffed to be part of South African history.”

Reynolds lives a minute away from Kenilworth racecourse but grew up in Grassy Park on the Cape Flats and he continued, “From my heart I want to thank the people of the Cape Flats for shouting for this horse and I now hope people will be able to approach trainers to get into this game and enjoy it the way I am.”

Ashwin watched from home together with his wife Rene and sons Brandon and Aiden and said the neighbours must have believed “a Tsunami” had hit. The neighbours asked politely the next day whether something had happened as they were unaware of his association with racehorses.

Ashwin saw his horse lying third last early in the race and feared the worst. He said, “I thought I was going to have to pull my heart out of my ass”.

However, Kommetdieding steadily made up ground from then onward.

He continued, “Before he hit the straight I could see Gavin had made his move already. It was a wise decision to get a lead on the others.”

The ‘tremor’ in the Cape Flats and the clamour in his household then began.

“I didn’t stop shouting and my wife and sons were screaming at the top of their lungs!”

Ashwin Reynolds, his wife Rene and sons Brandon and Aiden lead in Kommetdieding together with trainer Harold Crawford after he had won a Progress Plate at Kenilworth second time out on December 2 last year. Trainer Michelle Rix is in the background. (Crawford Rix Racing)

Ashwin was overcome with emotion when Kommetdieding crossed the line and candidly revealed the thoughts that went through his mind, “Everything just came back to me, I saw my late grandfather and my mother-in-law … I just couldn’t anymore so I dropped to the floor and broke down and cried.”

Ashwin’s father passed away when he was eight-years-old and he was brought up by his grandfather Titus Reynolds.

Titus in fact introduced him to horseracing.

He recalled, “He used to allow me to write down the results of the quinpot.”

His interest in the sport continued when he married into the Barnes family, who own Jamestown United football club and also love horseracing.

Ashwin made it one of his goals to own a racehorse by the age of 40.

He was duly invited into a syndicate by Ricky Agmit and acquired a ten percent share in a Dean Kannemeyer-trained horse called Noordhoek Ice, who won one race.

He described the excitement of that win and added, “Each and every win is a totally different type of excitement”.

He continued, “Owning horses is almost like a drug. You then just buy and buy.”

His first feature winner, also in a syndicate and trained by Kannemeyer, was African Warrior.

One day he was sitting at home when Harold Crawford phoned him from a Sale he was attending with his daughter and training partner Michelle Rix. Harold asked Ashwin if he could buy a horse for him.

“I replied yes but not for more than R80,000. I went around to their yard a few days later and they said to me, ‘Here’s your horse, we got him for R55,000.'”

Ashwin was taken aback and replied, “This horse?! You bought this ugly horse for me?!”

He continued, “But in the next two weeks he just bloomed and bloomed and continued to bloom.”

Ashwin gave the horse his name of Kommetdieding after being challenged to do so by a friend one day over a couple of drinks.

He explained, “It is Afrikaans slang among the Cape Flats coloured community and it means ‘Bring it on’ as in ‘I’m not scared, bring it on.'”

He admitted, “Such words said in English sound alright but using it in an Afrikaans sentence it sounds terrible. My Grandfather would have smacked me silly if he heard me using it, it was not the sort of language expected of us, and he is waiting to smack me silly in heaven!”

He added, “When I watch horses gallop they go ‘vrrrrr’ past me and all look the same. But Sihle Cele came to me one day and said ‘This horse reminds me of Edict Of Nantes’ and I then knew I had a good horse.”

Ashwin took 33/1 about him on his debut and said, “He actually started at 35/1 because everybody saw Crawford/Rix, Cele, Ashwin Reynolds …”

Kommetdieding won his first four races under Cele including the Grade 3 Politician Stakes and was favourite for the Grade 1 Cape Derby before being scratched for an overreach injury.

He was defeated twice by Linebacker in Durban before the July, although neither race panned out perfectly.

Ashwin traveled to Durban to watch his beloved horse in action and also attended the July Gallops. He said, “I must just thank Gold Circle and especially the PR lady Melinne and her team, they made us feel so important.”

Gavin Lerena, a twice South African champion jockey with a vast amount of big race experience, was called in to replace Cele for the July, although he had to lose 4kg to make the weight of 53kg.

Ashwin unfortunately could not attend the July due to lockdown and recalled, “Oom Harold was still determined to fly out for the race on his own but we were worried because of his failing eyesight, so I invited him to come and watch at my place. But he said, ‘I am never going to see a race like this again’, and I then said to him ‘Oom Harold you must go to the race.'”

The July victory was also tinged with sadness as a good friend of Ashwin’s, Jumat Cola, with whom he owned Bard Of Avon, who also won on July day, passed away on Friday night.

Ashwin dedicated the win to Jumat in a live interview on TV shortly after the race.

Ashwin began working at the age of 16 to support his family and was given his first job by well known horseracing owner Oswald Fouten. He later saved enough pounds during a two year stint in the UK working as a labourer to start his currently successful building and maintenance business.

Picture: Ashwin Reynolds, his wife Rene and sons Brandon and Aiden lead in Kommetdieding together with trainer Harold Crawford after he had won a Progress Plate at Kenilworth second time out on December 2 last year. Trainer Michelle Rix is in the background. (Crawford Rix Racing).

A victory for the little guy

Andrew Harrison

It was a triumph for the small stable at Hollywoodbets Greyville yesterday as Kommetdieding ran the race of his life to win the Vodacom Durban July. An emotional Harold Crawford has been part of the supporting cast in the Western Cape for over four decades, never quite in the spotlight, but it was firmly focussed on him and his daughter Michelle Rix yesterday. Gavin Lerena rode a masterful race to get the colt home ahead of the two favourites Linebacker and Got The Greenlight with Do It Again a tad unlucky in fourth.

It was also a triumph for the small owner as Ashwin Reynolds, confined to barracks on the Cape Flats in Cape Town under the level four lockdown. “I just see Kommetdieding on the outside and I just said go, take it home,” he said. It was a subdued Reynolds who had earlier lost a good friend to the dreaded Covid virus.

Reynolds, who reportedly turned down tempting telephone number offers early on, became the first person of colour to own a Vodacom Durban July winner and Kommetdieding is also the first horse with an Afrikaans name on the illustrious roll of honour.

A remarkably calm Michelle Rix said it, “still feels so surreal and wonderful. We came here and had one race in mind and you know with these horses it is stepping stones all the way. Obviously were a little disappointed with his two runs in KZN and we knew he was better than that and we had tough times ahead of us to prove it to everybody. Ashwin is truly one in a million. I’m at a loss for words for the time and the free reign he gives us to do our job.”

Lerena also thanked Billy Jacobson who rode Kommetdieding work in the mornings with Lerena riding in Gauteng.

In the race, “I was very happy where I was. I was three deep. I just wanted him to find his rhythm. He’s a young horse, and immature horse and I didn’t want him to get knocked around.

He was settled that I was able to make a move at the 800 and keep Do It Again in there and when I asked him for an effort in the straight inside the 300 he game me a real good kick this horse and ran all the way to the line.”

Lerena, had to shed 4kg to make the 53kg allotted Kommetdieding. “It’s been a tough four weeks but I took on the challenge and I came here today feeling strong and looking forward to today’s ride and it’s just beautiful when a plan comes together.”

Asked whether he had now got the monkey of a July winner off his back, he quipped, “I might eat a monkey tonight.”

Cape Comet Kommetdieding rocks Vodacom Durban July

The ‘Cape Comet’ Kommetdieding came from the outside 18 draw to win the 125th edition of the Vodacom Durban July, in the process rewriting a number of records.

The win gives trainer Michelle Rix a Vodacom Durban July title on her debut in Africa’s Greatest Horseracing event, making her the second female trainer after Candice Bass-Robinson to win the title, and it also makes owner Ashwin Reynolds the first owner of colour to win the country’s biggest race. 

Rix, who trained the three year old with her father Harold Crawford asked jockey Gavin Lerena to shed four kilograms to meet his eventual race weight of 54 kilograms, and he masterfully took the three year old to the line ahead of Linebacker and pre-race favourite Got The Greenlight.

“Kommetdieding has only been racing for twelve months, this is his seventh race. After his first four starts in Cape Town which were scintillating we knew he would be something special,” said Rix.

An emotional Rix said sharing the special moment with her father spoke volumes about their operation.

“When you do it with family it just adds that special touch,” said Rix. “We are very much a family orientated business and clearly it has worked for us!”

She added that she owed a debt of thanks to Lerena for accepting her challenge to shed weight for the big race.

“Good grief! Hats off to Gavin. I phoned him a couple of weeks ago and said ‘Can you do it?’ and he was so professional about it. ‘Give me four days,’ he said. ‘I am going to speak to my dietician’.

“He got back to me on the fourth day and said ‘I will do it’. Let me tell you a more professional jockey doesn’t come around too often,” she added.

Result of the 2021 Vodacom Durban July
1.18 KOMMETDIEDING Gavin Lerena H.Crawford/M.Rix
2.7 LINEBACKER Grant Van Niekerk V.Marshall
3.14 GOT THE GREENLIGHT Muzi Yeni J.Soma
4.16 DO IT AGAIN Richard Fourie J.Snaith
5.6 RASCALLION Sean Veale V.Marshall
6.8 SOVEREIGN SPIRIT Keagan De Melo C.Bass-Robinson
7.9 CIRILLO Lyle Hewitson S.Tarry
8.1 RAINBOW BRIDGE Luke Ferraris E.Sands
9.11 BELGARION S’Manga Khumalo J.Snaith
10.10 SHE’S A KEEPER Warren Kennedy G.van Zyl (Jnr)

VDJ Preview – Linebacker to touchdown?

David Thiselton
A Linebacker is a defensive position in American football so the second favourite for tomorrow’s Vodacom Durban July is not suitably named as he has the athletic agility and acceleration of a wide receiver and should “touchdown” a couple of minutes after three o’ clock tomorrow afternoon.
The Vaughan Marshall-trained Captain Of All gelding has it all as a racehorse, a fine temperament, gatespeed, an action which is a joy to watch as it is so efficient it appears to be effortless, a devastating turn of foot and he stays. The first three assets allow him to be well positioned in the running and even if he does not get cover he relaxes well. The tight Hollywoodbets Greyville straight requires a horse to have a good turn of foot and this horse’s acceleration from the 400m to 200m has been measured to be up with Got The Greenlight’s, the favourite, who is also know for his turn of foot.
Jockey Grant van Niekerk confirmed after his win in the Daily News 2000 Linebacker was idling after hitting the front and asked whether he would get the 2200m he said, “On his coconut.”
LINEBACKER keeps his fast-finishing stablemate RASCALLION at bay in the Grade 1 Daily News 2000. Pic: Candiese Lenferna
Add all this to a well nigh perfect draw of seven and it all points to the three-year-old bay being the horse to beat.
The only niggling concern is his pedigree, which does create a stamina doubt. He is by the champion sprinter Captain Of All out of the Australian-bred Redoute’s Choice mare Thin Red Line, whose two wins were over 1000m although she did finish runner up in a Grade 3 over a mile.
However, on the plus side, considering those close up influences, he should hardly get a mile and yet easily stayed the 2000m of the Daily News.
Linebacker’s breeder John Koster of Klawervlei Stud might have the explanation to his logic-defying stamina capacity. A summary of what he said is, “Captain Of All is throwing horses who look like English thoroughbreds and I can only put it down to his English ancestors.”
Got The Greenlight is a similar type of horse to Linebacker so they were hard to separate in this analysis. He also likes to chase a target and does it in electrifying fashion. He proved he stays this trip in last year’s July and has strengthened and improved since so it was a tough decision to not tip him to win. He does tend to take his foot off the pedal after he has hit the front and Linebacker has looked latterly to have the same characteristic so the prediction is that these two top horses will eyeball each other in the last 100m and the winner will be the one who finds the strongest fifth gear.
Rainbow Bridge’s form under Luke Ferraris has been better than ever and the six-year-old will also be delivering a strong run from off the pace. His class will likely carry him past most of the field but can he give Linebacker and Got The Greenlight 7kg and 5kg respectively and run past them?
Do It Again will be going for a record-breaking third July win and has his easiest weight-carrying task for the last three years, having carried topweight of 60kg to victory in 2019 and 59.5kg to a 0,90 length third last year. Carrying just 57.5kg this year he has a massive chance on paper and was looking in superb condition at the July gallops. It would be no surprise to see him rewrite the history books as he could also give Richard Fourie a record-breaking third successive July victory and Justin Snaith a record-equalling fourth successive July and the first to achieve this for 108 years.
The Tote will pay to the first five places and a place has to be found for Sovereign Spirit. He finished third in the weight for age Met and will be receiving 4kg from Belgarion for a 2,25 length beating. He is also from a yard known for their ability to produce horses at their absolute peaks for big races.He won last year’s consolation race to prove he enjoys this course and distance and has a great draw of eight.

Linebacker’s stable companion Rascallion has always been highly thought of and showed why in the Daily News 2000, where he was closing fast for a 0,70 length second. He does not have as good a temperament as Linebacker, although this is his third run after gelding which might help him relax in the preliminaries and in the race.
Kommetdieding is hard to ignore as he has a fine action and has just 0,75 lengths to find on LInebacker from the Daily News, but he does have the widest draw of all to contend with.
Reigning champion Belgarion has to carry 5kg more than last year but is peaking at the right time and top jockey S’Manga Khumalo is brimming with confidence at present.
She’s A Keeper is the dark horse as she has had easy weight carrying tasks to date and has won without appearing to be under any pressure. The question is how much extra she had in those races? She could still be anything.
Matterhorn caught the eye in the Lonsdale Stirrup Cup over 2400m travelling beautifully in the running and coming into the straight cantering and was a touch unlucky as the gaps did not open quickly enough. He could be a dark horse for the first five.
ExpressfromtheUS is classy and can turn it on well and is another who could sneak a place.
Crown Towers is a likely pacemaker, that is where he likes to be, and he kicks on well from the front. However, at this level he is unlikely to maintain his lead.
Shah Akbar might also be right up there but is unlikely to reverse respective beatings of two lengths and more in the Daily News with the other three-year-olds.
Cirillo might place if able to reproduce his Champions Cup third place last year but the extra 400m here will stretch him.
Tristful and Nexus have to up their games considerably and so does Johnny Hero.
Running Brave is a dangerous front-runner who has a tendency to win when least expected but her last two runs were woeful and she might be ready for stud.1st 7. LINEBACKER 2nd 14. GOT THE GREENLIGHT 3rd 1. RAINBOW BRIDGE 4th 16. DO IT AGAIN 5th 8. SOVEREIGN SPIRIT

History beckons at 2021 behind-closed-doors Vodacom Durban July

For the second year in a row the Vodacom Durban July will be run behind-closed-doors at Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse on Saturday afternoon, but the looming clashing of the thoroughbred titans over 2 200 metres has created an unprecedented amount of global interest in the race.

With one of the most competitive fields in decades, history beckons for a number of icons of the sport entered for the main race that gets under way at 3pm on Saturday afternoon.

The Justin Snaith-trained defending champion Belgarion will start eyeing a rare back-to-back victory in the Vodacom Durban July, and if he passes the winning post first he will be only the sixth horse to win the race twice and the fifth to win it two years in succession.

Belgarion’s stablemate Do It Again is well poised to live up to his name, having won the race twice before, in 2018 and 2019, and should he add the 2021 crown to his impressive list of achievements he will be the first horse in history to win the July three times.

Do It Again and Charné Charlton, wearing a Kathrin Kidger gown. Hair:Entropy. Model Extreme Model Management

He will be ridden by ace jockey Richard Fourie, who will become the first jockey to win a hat-trick of Vodacom Durban Julys, having won on Do It Again in 2019 and Belgarion last year.

If he wins it will take him to four July wins in total, along with joining Piere Strydom, Anthony Delpech and Harold “Tiger” Wright, and one short of the all-time mark held by the legendary Anton Marcus.

Justin Snaith has four runners in the eighteen-strong field, and if any of them comes home to win the Vodacom Durban July he will become the first trainer in 108 years to win the race four times in succession, joining Fred Murray as the only trainer to have achieved this feat. Murray trained and owned every winner from 1910 to 1913.

If Snaith succeeds on Saturday afternoon it will take his total tally of Vodacom Durban July victories to six, and just one shy of the record held by Hall Of Fame trainer Syd Laird and equal with the legendary Terrance Millard.

For the local racing fans there are three KwaZulu-Natal trained runners in the race – She’s A Keeper, Matterhorn and Tristful, vying to become the first locally trained winner of the race since the Dennis Drier-trained Spanish Galliard in 1992. Cape-trained horses have managed to win the Vodacom Durban July every year since the 2014 inaugural running on the new narrower track.

The widely fancied Rainbow Bridge, trained by Eric Sands can become the first top weight to win the Vodacom Durban July since Do It Again triumphed in 2019. Should Rainbow Bridge be led into the winners enclosure on Saturday afternoon, his jockey Luke Ferraris will become the first teenager to win the race for 52 years, Alan “Snowy” Reid being the last to have done it on Naval Escort in 1969.

Also enjoying support from the punters is Got The Greenlight who will be attempting to overcome the longest layoff for a winner for 87 years. No winner since Sun Tor in 1934, who came off a 161 day layoff, has come off as long a layoff as Got The Greenlight’s, which will be 63 days by July 3.

Another milestone will be set alongside the track where the evergreen photographer Anita Akal will be photographing the big race for the fiftieth time.

Across the country the race is providing a beacon of hope and excitement to a nation in the grips of the adjusted level 4 lockdown, and Vodacom Durban July parties are being planned in lounges, observing all the expectations of social distancing, complete with fashionable outfits based on the raceday theme “Birds of a Feather”, and all the lavish catering and hospitality associated with Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event.

Is She’s A Keeper the dark horse?

David Thiselton

One of the big questions of this year’s Vodacom Durban July is ‘How good is She’s A Keeper?’, who provides a first July runner for young Summerveld trainer Gareth van Zyl

The four-year-old Gimmethegreenlight filly is officially the lowest merit rated runner in the race but that is only due to South Africa’s unique hotchpotch of handicapping guidelines and restrictions together with an obsession with line horses, all of which tie the hands of the handicappers, who are then criticised mercilessly for the imbalance in the horse populations merit ratings.

She’s A Keeper has thus been given easy weight carrying tasks to date.

SHE’S A KEEPER looked full of well-being at the official VDJ Gallops last week (Candiese Lenferna Photography).

In her last two starts she has won the Listed WSB Scarlet Lady over 1750m by 2,10 lengths carrying just 54kg and the Grade 2 WSB 1900 by 0,90 lengths carrying just 50kg.

On paper she has a tough task in the July with the WSB 1900 runner up Matterhorn as she is now 3kg worse off.

However, she won both of those last two races without coming under serious pressure and she also tends to take her foot off the pedal and run around a bit after hitting the front.

So, the question is how much extra did she actually have when winning those two races, if she had any at all?

Van Zyl admitted he did not yet know how good she was himself and said, “We have made some calculated guesses and although a lot of times we overrate our horses and are let down we get it right every now and then and we are optimistic that she is a proper Group 1 horse.”

Van Zyl won KZN’s second most famous race (from a traditional point of view) last year, the WSB Gold Cup, so has the wherewithall to present a horse in tip top condition for a big race.

Asked whether having a first July runner was nerve-wracking he replied, “It is not so much the nerves, it is very exciting, but it is also just wishing the day would arrive as she is so well at the moment. We just hope things can keep going well.”

She impressed at the official July gallops and Van Zyl said, “We were very happy with the gallop. We did not ask her to set the track alight but it was the way she went about her business. The most important thing was she came out of the gallop better than she went in so it was an important stepping stone into the race.”

He was asked about the draw of ten and replied, “It is perfect. She jumped from a similar draw in the 1900. She likes to be given a bit of a chance.”

He is also pleased to have reigning national champion jockey Warren Kennedy up and said, “Warren is unbeaten on her. He knows her well and knows Greyville well so having him aboard is a big advantage.”

The yard also have some other runners with chances on the day, although one of their main hopes, Gallic Chief, who runs in the Grade 2 Durban Golden Horseshoe over 1400m, has unfortunately drawn wide in 14 in a 15 horse field.

The two-year-old Vercingetorix gelding won his maiden over 1100m by 4,50 lengths and then finished a 2,30 length third after going to the front in the Grade 1 Gold Medallion over 1200m.

Van Zyl said, “The draw was a big pity. He shows natural speed but everything else points to him looking for even further than this trip. We will likely have to try and slot him in because he has exceptional gate-speed, so dropping him out is unlikely.”

He has the advantage of the in-form twice national champion jockey S’Manga Khumalo aboard.

Van Zyl also has a runner in the fillies two-year-old feature, the Grade 2 Zulu Kingdom Explorer Golden Slipper over 1400m.

He said about this Elusive Fort filly, Finding Freedom, “She impressed us in the Devon Air as she was quite green and she has a lot of natural improvement to come. We can always revert to the maidens if it is a step too far, so we are giving it a go.”

He runs last year’s Gold Cup winner Paths Of Victory in the Grade 3 DSTV Gold Vase over 3000m and said, “He is showing signs of returning to himself but we need to see it in the race because he hasn’t bounced back to that Gold Cup form yet. He is certainly not flat, he is full of energy and enjoying his work, so is ready to do his best.”

He runs Chantyman in the Grade 2 Post Merchants over 1200m. This six-year-old Oratorio gelding won his maiden over this trip back in 2017 by 7,50 lengths at Hollywoodbets Scottsville but has chiefly been kept to 1000m since. However, Van Zyl is not concerned about the trip and said, “The way he has been running I think he will get the 1200. He is doing well and is ready to run a big race from a good draw, he is going to be competitive there.”

Warren Kennedy rides Finding Freedom and Paths To Victory and Luke Ferraris will ride Chantyman.

Vodacom Durban July race day will go ahead

Following President Ramaphosa’s National Address last night moving South Africa to Adjusted Level 4 and the media release from the National Horseracing Authority earlier today, Gold Circle can confirm that the Vodacom Durban July race day will go ahead on Saturday, 3 July 2021.

On course attendance at all race meetings in KwaZulu-Natal, from today until further notice, will be limited to essential services personnel; Trainers, Jockeys, Grooms, NHA Staff and Gold Circle Staff required to ensure each race meeting can proceed. No Owners, Gold Circle Members or Box/Suite Holders will be permitted access to either Hollywoodbets Greyville or Hollywoodbets Scottsville until further notice.

The Vodacom Durban July race meeting will be available to view on Tellytrack (DSTV Channel 249) and via the official broadcast on SuperSport 4 (DSTV Channel 204) from 13h00-16h00 on Saturday. The 1st race is off at 11h15 with the VDJ run at 15h00 and the 10th race off at 16h45.

Zackey has another VDJ ticket

David Thiselton

The list of connections whose names would be on the Vodacom Durban July victory roll had it not been for bad luck in running must be a long one and among them are trainer Tyrone Zackey and his daughter and son-in-law Nadine and Kevin Backos, a trio who have a ticket this year with the race’s joint biggest outsider Johnny Hero.

The Zackey-trained 55/1 shot Smanjemanje, owned by the Backos’s in partnership with George Barker, was bumped twice at crucial stages in the straight by the eventual third-placed Chesalon in 2012 while storming home under young apprentice Grant van Niekerk to be beaten just a short-head by Pomodoro.

Zackey recalled, “The stipes told me they would have reversed the placings if Chesalon had finished in front of us.”

The memory of such narrow misses never fades.

In fact Paddy Wynne, who rode Jamaican Rumba to July victory in 1982, spoke last week of how he sometimes still today suddenly sits bolt upright at night thinking of the incident in the straight in 1989 that robbed him of a second July win on Tropicante.

Zackey continued, “Every year on July day I find myself wishing I had another horse as good as Smanjemanje to give us another chance.”

He admitted, “I don’t know if Johnny Hero is the same quality as Smanjemanje, but he always tries and is progressing, he gets better everytime. It is a very talented field this year, but we do have a ticket. I bought a place in Umhlanga many years ago so we stay there and we always have a good time. Win, lose or draw, we are happy. I love horses and my family loves horses.”

Zackey was given a budget by John Maroun to look for a horse at the National Yearling Sales in 2018 and after he had been outbid for the the first two on his list he picked up Gimmethegreenlight colt Johnny Hero for R130,000.

“John came over to me and said he liked this one, he was a reasonable price, and he liked the name too. Not only is his name John but his father was also named John and was nicknamed ‘Johnny Bix’. So he took over immediately and paid for the horse at the sale and later Kevin and Nadine took a share.”

GH Normand is also a shareholder.

Zackey added, “Not one of the owners ever asked me when he would be ready to run.”

The owners left it to Tyrone knowing what a fine trainer he is, a conditioner who when given a good horse will invariably take it to the top.

Zackey said, “I don’t look at the breeding at Sales I just look at the horse and when I like the conformation that is when I buy.”

He continued, “So the owners allowed Johnny Hero time to grow and he kept growing. I then gave him a run (in late May of his two-year-old year) over 1400m at the Vaal and he was left about eight lengths and came flying for fourth. I then knew we had a nice horse.”

His opinion was confirmed when he won over 1400m next time out. Johnny Hero won one more race as a juvenile and was given a 99 merit rating.

He added one more win as a three-year-old, ending that season rated 93.

However, one day he began flipping over at home when the saddle was put on and it was discovered he had a growth in his whither.

This was removed but the surgery put him out for seven months.

Zackey said, “I took my time with him. He improved and improved and eventually none of my  other horses could work with him.”

The now four-year-old gelding duly came back better than ever and since his return on February 23 this year has rattled off three wins and only missed the frame once in eight starts.

This culminated in a fine win in the Grade 3 Jubilee Handicap over 1800m at Turffontein Standside, a traditional July pointer, which prompted the connections to supplement him for the big race.

Zackey recalled, “On the day of the Jubilee there was a lack of jockeys because of the postponed Scottville meeting and when I saw Kabelo (Matsunyane) was available I grabbed him. He had ridden him three times before and the horse runs for him. Kabelo has his head screwed on the right way. He takes instructions and rides to instructions. I told him if he won the Jubilee he had the July ride.”

Matsunyane thus has his first ride in the July.

Zackey continued, “But the July is very hard, nobody gives an inch. In July’s jockeys stay where they are and if they have you locked up they will keep you there. But we have draw two so it is all up to luck in running and we will have a chance to run a place at least.”

Zackey has been impressed with a number of the VDJ contenders and said,  “Got The Greenlight is a beautiful horse, he has beaten us before, and I have been watching him at track. He has developed into a big and strong colt. Linebacker is lovely and I couldn’t believe how green around the turn Kommetdieding was when I watched him running at Greyville.”

Zackey was pleased with Johnny Hero’s July gallop and concluded,

“He is well in himself I don’t think I can have him any better so I will just keep him idling until the race.”

VDJ Milestones that can be reached in 125th renewal

David Thiselton
The Vodacom Durban July is South Africa’s greatest race and some important milestones can be reached in the big race’s 125th renewal this year.

DO IT AGAIN AND RICHARD FOURIE could rewrite the Vodacom Durban July record books on Saturday (Liesl King).

DO IT AGAIN can become the first horse in history to win the race three times.
RICHARD FOURIE can become the first jockey in
history to win the race three times in succession if Do It Again wins and it will be his fourth July win in total, joining Piere Strydom, Anthony Delpech and Harold “Tiger” Wright as jockeys who are one short of Anton Marcus record five victories.
JUSTIN SNAITH can become the first trainer in 108 years to win the race four times in succession, joining Fred Murray as the only trainer to have achieved this feat (Murray trained and owned every winner from 1910 to 1913). SNAITH will join Terrance Millard on six July wins if he does do it, one behind the record seven of Hall Of Fame trainer Syd Laird and equal with the legendary Terrance Millard.
BELGARION will be, attempting to become the 6th horse to win the race twice and the 5th to win it two years in succession.
Belgarion’s owners ALEC AND THE HONOURABLE GILLIAN FOSTER will thus be attempting to become what is believed to be the first to be owners and breeders of the winner for two years in succession.
KOMMETDIEDING can become the first Coloured-owned winner for Ashwin Reynolds although the first across the line in 2014 Wylie Hall would have achieved this feat for Michael Leaf if a subsequent objection had not been upheld.
GOT THE GREENLIGHT can become the first Indian-owned and/or Coloured-owned winner. He is owned by Dayalan Chinsammy and Hassan Adams respectively in partnership with trainer Joe Soma.
GOT THE GREENLIGHT will be attempting to overcome the longest layoff for a winner for 87 years. No winner since Sun Tor in 1934, who came off a 161 day layoff, has come off as long a layoff as Got The Greenlight’s, which will be 63 days by July 3.
LUKE FERRARIS, who rides Rainbow Bridge, can become the first teenager to win the race for 52 years, Alan “Snowy” Reid being the last to have done it on Naval Escort in 1969.
LINEBACKER can join both Big City Life (2009) and Legislate (2014) as horses who have won all of the Grade 1 Cape Derby, the Grade 2 WSB Guineas, the Grade 1 Daily News 2000 and the Vodacom Durban July in one season.
CROWN TOWERS, SOVEREIGN SPIRIT, CIRILLO, BELGARION, NEXUS, RUNNING BRAVE AND TRISTFUL will all be attempting to become the first five-year-old winner since the Mike Bass-trained Pocket Power in 2008.
RAINBOW BRIDGE and DO IT AGAIN will both be attempting to become the first six-year-old winner for 41 years, the Johnny Nicholson-trained Beau Art being the last to do it in 1980.
POMODORO can become the sixth July winner to sire a July winner if his son CIRILLO wins. This follows 1909 winner King’s Favourite (who produced 1915 winner Winnipeg), 1941 winner Sadri II (who produced 1951 winner Gay Jane and 1954 winner C’Est si Bon), 1940 winner Kipling (who produced 1952 winner Mowgli), 1987 winner Bush Telegraph (who produced 1996 winner London News) and 2003 winner Dynasty (who has to date produced 2014 winner Legislate and 2020 winner Belgarion).
DYNASTY can become the first July winner to sire more than two individual July winners if either SOVEREIGN SPIRIT or NEXUS wins and will be the first sire to be on the winner’s roll three times if Belgarion wins.
RAINBOW BRIDGE (bred by Mary Slack and Jessica Jell’s Wilgerbosdrift and Mauritzfontein Stud) could become the seventh winner bred by the Oppenheimer family following Tiger Fish (1959), King Willow (1965), Principal Boy (1975), Greys Inn (2004), Hunting Tower (2007) and Marinaresco (2017). (The Oppenheimers owned the first five of those and also owned 1992 winner Spanish Galliard).
SHE’S A KEEPER, MATTERHORN and TRISTFUL will be attempting to become the first KZN-trained winner since the Dennis Drier-trained Spanish Galliard in 1992.
KZN and Gauteng together have nine runners who will be attempting to break the stranglehold Cape-trained horses have had since the 2014 inaugural running on the new narrower track.
RAINBOW BRIDGE can become the first topweight to win since Do It Again in 2019.
All horses will be out to break the race record time of 131.76 seconds set by the Mike Bass-trained Trademark in 2001.
ANITA AKAL will photograph the July for the 50th time. Congratulations Anita!

ANITA AKAL will be an on course photographer at the Vodacom Durban July for the 50th time (S’bonelo Ngcobo).

Analysis of the Vodacom Durban July Gallops

The Vodacom Durban July runners were put through their paces at the traditional pre-race gallops at Hollywoodbets Greyville today. None were given hard workouts but they did parade their wellbeing.

Rainbow Bridge, top weight for Saturday, 3 July, looked a picture of health in the paddock and was the first to gallop. He did it effortlessly from the 1400m mark under big race rider Luke Ferraris and trainer Eric Sands was well pleased with his work.

“He’s had a much better preparation this year and is in a good space,” said Sands although he expressed reservations about his charge having to give weight to the entire field.

Three-year-olds Linebacker and Rascallion worked together. Rascallion went well clear allowing Linebacker to run at him over the final two furlongs and they finished together. Vaughan Marshall was pleased with the work and said both would be spot on come the big day. “But don’t ask me to choose between the two,” he laughed.

Do It Again, back-to-back winner of the race and third last year, put up an impressive gallop – along with Rainbow Bridge – the best of the morning clocking the fastest 400m to finish time while racing hard into the bit. Justin Snaith appears to have got the gelding back to his peak after a recent spell in the relative wilderness.

Warren Kennedy was comfortable with the work from his big race mount, She’s A Keeper and was hopeful of a good run. “We don’t quite know where we stand with her. But we do know that she is very good. The race will tell,” he said.

Kommetdieding was the final gallop and Michelle Rix will be hoping for a change of fortune after luckless runs in the WSB Guineas and the Daily News 2000. He has the widest draw to contend with but big race rider Gavin Lerena was not fazed. “I’ll play it by ear. He put up good work this morning.” He did appear to be a little keen but Lerena said he was doing it well within himself.

The seven Highveld-based horses worked at Turffontein but there is concern that Gauteng will go into a much stricter lockdown as the Corona virus has spread rapidly in that province and those horses may not be able to make the trip to KZN in time for the race.

Also galloping yesterday was ruling ante-post favourite for the Gr1 Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes, Captain’s Ransom who put up a smart piece of work. “Race over,” was the assessment by jockey Richard Fourie. Journalist: Andrew Harrison