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)

Star studded Champions’ Season opener

Things get serious on Sunday, May 2, the first day of South Africa’s Champion Season. Many of the country’s top gallopers start their build-up to the bigger plums of the three-month racing festival with the Gr2 Independent On Saturday Drill Hall Stakes, heading a quality card at Hollywoodbets Greyville.

Supporting features on the ten-race programme are the Gr2 WSB Guineas and Gr2 WSB Fillies Guineas.

Gr1 Cape Town Met winner Rainbow Bridge and stable companion Golden Ducat are stand-out entries in the Independent On Saturday Drill Hall Stakes over 1400m.

Both geldings, who incidentally are half-brothers, are trained by Eric Sands and owned by Mike and Norma Rattray. It has been Rattray’s burning ambition to win the Vodacom Durban July after coming close on a number of occasions and will pin his hopes on this pair come Saturday, July 3.

He was banking on the two last year but Rainbow Bridge disappointed in sixth, Golden Ducat doing better, finishing fourth.

Teenager Luke Ferraris, who has only recently come out of his time as an apprentice, will again be aboard Rainbow Bridge hoping to add to their Cape Town Met victory, and Donovan Dillion, who recently returned from injury, will partner Golden Ducat, the pair finishing fourth in last year’s July.

Paul Peter has accepted with the smart three-year-old Catch Twentytwo, runner-up to Triple Crown winner Malmoos in the WSB Gauteng Guineas and then third in the Gr1 SA Classic, again behind Malmoos. Gavin Lerena stays aboard.

Apprentice Thabiso Gumede scored his first feature race victory aboard Trip To Africa in the Kings Cup and Duncan Howells has kept faith with the youngster. They have a plum draw at two and a win here will go some way towards increasing Trip To Africa’s chances of a gate in the Vodacom Durban July.

Pinkerton is a little under the radar but has a 50% winning strike rate in his seven wins and his last two successes have been over 1400m, the distance of the Drill Hall. Stable companion Wild Coast will be ridden by Grant Van Niekerk and will start from gate 6.

The unbeaten colt Kommetdieding drew 8 in the WSB Guineas and the race will be something of a litmus test. Trained by Harold Crawford and his daughter Michelle Rix, he was a short-priced favourite for the Gr1 Jonsson Workwear Cape Derby but his participation was derailed through injury. The Derby was won by WSB Cape Guineas runner-up Linebacker, so it will be interesting to see how they go against each other. However, both are sure to be warming up for the Daily News 2000 before a crack at the July.

MK’S Pride has been a star on the Highveld, and beat Got The Greenlight in the Gr2 Hawaii Stakes. It was a top-class performance even if seen in the light of Got The Greenlight’s comeback run.  He has drawn pole in the Guineas alongside Jonsson Workwear Derby winner Linebacker which should make for another interesting match-up.

Dean Kannemeyer’s Cape Guineas winner Russian Rock disappointed in a Graduation Plate in his first KZN outing this term but that run should have brought him on.

Vaughan Marshall has two top entries in Linebacker and recent Byerley Turk winner Seeking The Stars in what should be a cracking renewal of the Gr2 WSB Guineas.

Justin Snaith’s star filly Captain’s Ransom pulled a top draw of 3 in the WSB Fillies Guineas and the manner of her recent wins should make her difficult to beat. Beaten only once, she has twice taken on top older fillies and on both occasions put them to bed with ease, the smart Clouds Unfold victim on both occasions including the Gr1 Cartier Majorca Stakes on Met Day.

She put up a cracking gallop at Hollywoodbets Greyville last week and looks primed for this event.

Although she looks head and shoulders above the opposition, Princess Calla, second to Captain’s Ransom in the Cape Fillies Guineas, was an impressive winner at Hollywoodbets Scottsville a fortnight back and can make a race of it while Only The Brave is back over a more suitable trip after finding the SA Oaks out of her compass and the combination of Muzi Yeni and Paul Matchett is often lethal. Journalist: Andrew Harrison

Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge Stakes Increase to R1 Million

In yet another significant show of support for the South African horse racing industry – and KwaZulu-Natal racing in particular, Hollywoodbets has committed to a 3-year sponsorship of the Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge that will see the stake for this prestigious race increase from R500 000 to R1 000 000. The Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge will now be the second richest race on the South African racing calendar, being surpassed only by the Vodacom Durban July.

Over the past two years, Hollywoodbets has introduced initiatives to support each and every group of stakeholders in KZN and the timing for this new initiative is both exciting and gratifying. “If one looks back to July 2019 when Hollywoodbets secured the landmark naming rights to Hollywoodbets Greyville and Hollywoodbets Scottsville, who could have predicted that we were about to embark on one of the most economically challenging periods that South African Horseracing has ever had to endure?Hollywoodbets increased its support of the industry during a time when it has been needed most and to now have our partner as a long-term title sponsor of one of our most prestigious Grade 1 races during Champions Season, is the perfect fit,” said Steve Marshall, Gold Circle’s Marketing and Events Executive.

Hollywoodbets Brand & Communications Executive, Devin Heffer explains that this sponsorship is about much more than just the Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge. “This is about being associated with equine excellence and ensuring that the value and prestige of our champions is not diluted by economic stress. Hollywoodbets views itself as an integral part of the horse racing industry and the KwaZulu-Natal economy. The Champions Season is the magnet that attracts nationwide interest in the sport, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to meaningfully demonstrate our commitment to racing’s wellbeing. We will also use the day to enthusiastically build a bridge between horse racing and our other valued partners in sport and in the media.”

The 2021 edition of the Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge is likely to see two past champions in Rainbow Bridge and Do It Again renewing their rivalry along with L’Ormarins Queens Plate winner, Jet Dark. However, with R1 000 000 up for grabs, there will definitely be a host of challengers to the throne, as this year’s race, scheduled for Saturday 12 June at Hollywoodbets Greyville, promises to be one of the most eagerly anticipated races of Champions Season.

Met set to be a Vodacom Durban July re-run

The Grade 1 Cape Town Met has panned out into a re-run of last season’s Grade 1 Vodacom Durban July with four of the first six past the post in the July in the line-up. In fact, all of the country’s main actors will face the starter, the only one missing being July runner-up Got The Greenlight.

Last year’s Vodacom Durban July winner Belgarion is currently at the top of bookmaker’s boards for the race to be run at Kenilworth in Cape Town on Saturday, January 30, where he again faces Rainbow Bridge, Do It Again and Golden Ducat. Added to this year’s cast is recent Grade 1 Paddock Stakes winner Queen Supreme, Grade 1 Summer Cup runner-up Running Brave, African Night Sky on the comeback trail, and the only three-year-old in the race, Princess Calla.

Do It Again, a dual winner of the Vodacom Durban July, finished a creditable third last year in his bid for his third successive July victory, just ahead of Golden Ducat with Rainbow Bridge putting in a below par performance, finishing in sixth place.

Rainbow Bridge showed his true worth when going on to be involved in possibly the race of the season, edged out on the line by stable companion Golden Ducat in the Grade 1 Champions Cup at Hollywoodbets Greyville.

The Grade 1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate is one of the country’s big three Grade 1 WFA 1600m races, the other two being the Gold Challenge, run at Hollywoodbets Greyville and the HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes run at Turffontein, and is most often used as a stepping stone into the Met.

This year was no different although the big three of Belgarion, Rainbow Bridge and Do It Again were upstaged by Jet Dark.

However, the three filled the minor placings led by Rainbow Bridge and their respective trainers will have left a little meat on the bone for the Cape Town Met, all three horses more at home over the extra 400m.

Golden Ducat, a winner of the Champions Cup and fourth in the July last season, ducked the Queen’s Plate, the 1600m way too sharp for the former Grade 1 Cape Derby winner, the race run over the same course and distance of the Met. He turned in an exceptional effort to win the Grade 3 Peninsula Handicap over 1800m run on the same day as the Queens Plate. In a race run at a pedestrian gallop, not suited to Golden Ducat, Eric Sand’s charge fought on gamely to win a race in which he looked clearly defeated 400m out.

Queen Supreme posted back-to-back victories in the Grade 1 Paddock Stakes, cruising to a most impressive win. Mike de Kock then shipped her back to his base at Randjesfontein and most surmised that the Met was off her agenda so it came as a surprise that De Kock opted for the filly to make the arduous 1600km road trip back to Cape Town in just over three weeks, surely an indication of what the multiple times champion trainer thinks of her chances.

If she travels well, the boys will need to pick up their feet.

Fanie Bronkhorst has had his trainer’s brief for less than a month but he saddles Summer Cup runner-up Running Brave who runs in his colours. For the Summer Cup, Paul Matchett was at the helm but Bronkhorst steered her to her recent win in the Grade 2 London News Stakes.

The ‘big four’ are all fancied in the early betting market with Queen Supreme in the mix, but whatever the result and barring any mishaps, all are likely to be headed to KZN for South Africa’s Champion Season and another tilt at the country’s most prestigious race, the Vodacom Durban July.

World Sports Betting prices on the Cape Town Met as of Friday, January 22:

22-10 Belgarion; 9-2 Rainbow Bridge; 11-2 Queen Supreme; 6-1 Do It Again, Golden Ducat; 9-1 Princess Calla; 18-1 African Night Sky; 25-1Running Brave; 33-1 Cirillo; 40-1 Silver Operator; 80-1 Sovereign Spirit.

Belgarion storms home

David Thiselton

Justin Snaith landed his fifth Vodacom Durban July and Richard Fourie his third at Hollywoodbets Greyville as Belgarion fended off the country’s top three-year-old Got The Greenlight to win in the fastest time since the track was narrowed in 2014.

Belgarion’s record-seeking stablemate Do It Again finished third, the highest finish of the five horses in history who have attempted three wins in the big race.

Snaith is the ultimate professional and his stable jockey Fourie would have known that Belgarion’s stablemate Silvano’s Pride, who was the expected pacemaker, was going to go like the clappers in front.

Belgarion’s wide draw of 17 was thus easily nullified by the horse simply being dropped out.

The pace was also fast enough for him to use his big stride.

However, the connections of the favourite Rainbow Bridge had to guess how quick it was going to be up front and their decision to go handy from a low draw did them no favours in retrospect.

Rainbow Bridge found himself in front in the straight way too soon after Silvano’s Pride and second-in-the-running Twist Of Fate had understandably fallen away after some of the quickest fractions set in July history.

Statistician Jay August measured Silvano’s Pride going through the first 1200m in a tearaway 69.4 seconds and the group behind her, which included Rainbow Bridge, went through in 70.6 seconds, which is the fastest July so far at that point for the chasing pack.

Handicapping pundits were proved correct by Belgarion’s win. A condition of the WSB 1900 limited the raise he was allowed to be given for winning that race to six points. The handicappers thus had to give him a 119 merit rating despite having analyzed him to have run to a 122.

He thus carried 1kg less than he would have and on paper that was the difference between victory and a head defeat by the runner up Got The Greenlight.

The three-year-olds defied a number of pundits who had written them off.

Got The Greenlight was running 3kg under sufferance on official merit ratings but there were a few who still fancied him as he was a three time Grade 1 winner whose running style suggested he only did enough to win.

However, the fourth place finish of the Grade 1 Cape Derby winner Golden Ducat, who was 4,5kg under sufferance, suggested the crop might be a tad better than had been thought.

Snaith is just two July wins behind the record of seven set by the legendary Syd Laird and as a relatively young man he has plenty of time to surpass it.

It was a deserved win for owners Alec and the Honourable Gillian Foster. The former had a fine sporting day as his beloved England cricket team were not in a strong position at the beginning of the day against the West Indies but by stumps were in command.

Belgarion was bred by Alec too.

Silvano’s Pride was chased to the front from the off and soon had a big lead.

The field were stretched out in the running.

The favourite Rainbow Bridge was in a handy position, while Do It Again was in the back half and was being trailed by Got The Greenlight who in turn was being followed by Belgarion.

The latter must have been about 20 lengths off the leader at the halfway mark.

Owner and breeding doyen Mike Rattray has dreamed of winning the July his whole life and half way down the straight he must have been willing the line closer as his red and white colours were lying first and second, Rainbow Bridge in front and Golden Ducat on his quarter.

However, the Do It Again treble dream then began to look more likely as he moved up dangerously.

The latter possibility was short-lived though because it became clear that the pair on the outside, Belgarion and Got The Greenlight were going best of all.

Belgarion won full of running by 0,90 lengths in a time of 132,4 seconds, the fourth fastest time since the distance was upped to 2200m in 1970.

The Joey Soma-trained Got The Greenlight stayed on well to beat Do It Again by a head.

The latter was a length clear of the Eric Sands-trained Golden Ducat, who just held on to fourth by a short head from the gallant seven-year-old, the Dean Kannemeyer-trained It’s My Turn. The latter finished fourth in the July as a three-year-old.

Golden Ducat’s stable mate Rainbow Bridge, who was last year’s runner up, finished a disappointing sixth, 0,80 lengths behind It’s My Turn.

Belgarion wins 2020 Vodacom Durban July

Four year old superstar Belgarion handed trainer Justin Snaith his fifth win and jockey Richard Fourie his third title with a stunning victory in the 2020 Vodacom Durban July in front of empty stands at Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse on Saturday afternoon.

Facing one of the most competitive fields assembled for the Vodacom Durban July in decades, the son of the legendary Dynasty worked his way through the field before thundering down the grandstand side of the track to surge clear of ferocious challenges from double-defending champion Do It Again, Got The Greenlight and Golden Ducat.

The win was hugely satisfying for Snaith, who has now won a back-to-back hat trick of Vodacom Durban July titles.

He had flagged Belgarion for Vodacom Durban July greatness a year ago and had planned a twelve month preparation campaign to get him to Hollywoodbets Greyville in optimal condition to challenge for the continent’s premier horseracing title.

The four year old came into the big race hardly exposed in group one company and went to the starting stalls with many saying he was the best handicapped race horse in the race.

Even his wide draw at 17 could not stand in the way of his lockdown July glory, as he found a turn a pace in the final moments that clearly set him apart from the rest of the field.

Got The Greenlight, with Musi Yeni on board finished second and Do It Again couldn’t live up to his name, finishing third ahead of Golden Ducat and stable-mate Rainbow Bridge.

With no spectators allowed on course and just a skeleton staff of essential workers allowed on site, the 124th edition of the iconic race was watched by a massive audience on television and online, as the lockdown forced July fans to arrange their own ‘stay-at-home’ raceday festivities.

“It was exciting the be able to deliver the July, even as a broadcast-only event,” said Marketing Executive Steve Marshall.

“In its 124 year history this race has never been cancelled and it needed a huge team effort to make sure it happened this year.

“It was eerie earlier on in the day, but when the main race came into the home straight it felt like another classic moment in this race’s history unfolding,” he added.

SUMMARY OF RESULTS
2020 Vodacom Durban July
1.Belgarion
2.Got The Greenlight
3.Do It Again
4.Golden Ducat
5.Its My Turn
6.Rainbow Bridge

World ready to watch ‘behind-closed-doors’ Vodacom Durban July

The eyes of the horseracing world’s fans and socialites will be focused on the Vodacom Durban July on Saturday afternoon for the 124th edition of Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event, following on television and live streaming instead of watching from the normally packed grandstands and marquee village at Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse.

Forced to race ‘behind-closed-doors’ due to the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown regulations, just a handful of essential staff will be at the racecourse along with the trainers, jockeys, grooms and support staff for the ten race programme that will make up the most unusual running of the iconic event.

Can Rainbow Bridge win the 2020 Vodacom Durban July? Asking the star this question first-hand are models Julia Petersen (left) wearing a Hanrie Lues designed outfit and Noluthando Dube dressed by Madelain Clark, pictured with groom Dumisani Bonani.

“Even through the war years, this event was never cancelled, and thanks to the positive interaction with government, we have been able to return horse-racing to active race meetings under very strict conditions and protocols,” said Gold Circle’s Event and Marketing Executive Steve Marshall.

“At a time when everyone is battling with the lockdown implications, we hope the 2020 Vodacom Durban July can provide an afternoon of entertainment that can serve as a beacon of hope as the country battles this pandemic,” he added.

The event has adapted to the reality of the lockdown by targeting the raceday at the ‘stay-at-home’ functions that will be organised in homes across the country on Saturday afternoon.

The racecard and traditional July Frenzy booklet have been digitised and are available to read on the event website.

Adding extra spice to the private Vodacom Durban July functions is the downloadable sweepstake form that makes it easy for friends to select a runner for the main race and run their own sweepstakes at home.

Online betting will be the order of the day, with internet and telephone betting set to cater for the annual betting surge around the year’s biggest horse race. Prominent local betting operators like Hollywoodbets and TabGold have also created innovative betting drive-through stations in the city to cater for punters keen to lay their bets in person.

Despite the lockdown regulations restricting public events and activities, betting on the Vodacom Durban July is nevertheless expected to be brisk, with more than R200 million predicted to be waged on the ten-race meeting.

Making it even more attractive for punters is the carryover of R2 million already in the Pick Six pool, which is expected to eventually reach around R15 million.

There is also a carryover of R1 million that will kick start the quartet pool that is probably also going to grow to around R15 million on Saturday.

Punters keen to see a fairy-tale ending to the main race that starts at 3:10pm on Saturday will be hoping that the Justin Snaith-trained Do It Again can complete an historic hat trick of back-to-back victories and race into the history books taking jockey Anton Marcus to a record sixth Vodacom Durban July win.

As betting heats up, support is pouring in for hot favourite Rainbow Bridge, along with Got The Greenlight, and another of Justin Snaith’s five runners Belgarion.

As eerie as the ‘behind-closed-doors’ Vodacom Durban July will be for the handful of essential staff on course, the digital audience will vault the iconic event to a massive global audience on Saturday afternoon.

The event can be watched on DSTV on channel 204 and 210 from 1pm while Tellytrack will provide extensive coverage on channel 239. Fans can also follow the raceday on the event website and social media platforms.

Chief Handicapper unravels the puzzle

David Thiselton

South Africa’s chief handicapper Lennon Maharaj has looked at the Vodacom Durban July through the public eye and offered some pointers.

He firstly addressed the three-year-old issue and said, “There is little question that Covid-19 and the National Lockdown have impacted on the development of the three-year-olds’ Merit Ratings. Last season Soqrat ran second in the Grade 1 L’Ormarins Queens Plate at WFA terms behind Do It Again providing the Handicappers with a good yardstick. Hawwaam also quickly established himself as a dominant force. This season it was not until the Daily News 2000 victory of Got The Greenlight that the best middle distance horse of the crop was known. I have more questions than answers about the three-year-olds this season and the July will provide the answers.

However, unlike handicappers who are post-race analysts, tipsters and punters have to analyse the race beforehand and try and predict a winner. One question they should be asking is how do the three-year-olds compare with recent three-year-old winners and how comparatively tough is their task?

2012 winner Pomodoro (55kg) beat Grade 2 winner Smanjemanje (57kg) and Grade 2 winner Chesalon (58kg).

2014 winner Legislate (56 kg) (after a successful objection) beat Grade 1 winner Wylie Hall (57,5kg) and Grade 2 Winner Tellina (58kg).
2018 winner Do It Again (54kg) beat Grade 3 winner Made To Conquer (53kg) and Grade 2 winner Elusive Silva (56,5kg).

How do the older horses they beat stack up against Grade 1 WFA winners like Do It Again, Rainbow Bridge, Vardy and Soqrat? The fact that we have been able to keep horses like those four on our shores has surely strengthened the quality of our national horse population over the last few seasons and consequently sets the three-year-olds a tough task, even if they do prove to be undervalued by the interrupted season.

Maharaj then gave some pointers to punters, in layman’s terms, on how to unravel the handicap. He began by saying a
successful handicap was one where there was the perception that every horse had an equal chance of winning, so the task punters should be setting themselves would be to find horses that have been undervalued by the handicapper and/or over-priced by the betting market.

He continued, “Imagine a line graph based on the MR profile for each runner in the July. You will find that all horses good enough to participate would have been and may still be on an upward MR curve but the more exposed among them might now have reached their peaks and have flattened curves. In theory if all the July runners are weighted to finish in a line, with the exception of the horses under sufferance who are still behind the line, then surely the smart money should be on the horses that are weighted to finish in the line but with room for improvement i.e those who are still on an upwards trajectory or who are perhaps under handicapped.

Belgarion should be outright favourite for the July. His official rating of 119 is only due to a specific condition of the WSB 1900, in which he achieved a 122 rating, so he is under handicapped. We could have weighted Belgarion off his achieved 122 rating as this is permitted by the conditions of the race, but we opted not to break precedent. Belgarion is clearly on an upward trajectory. He has a winning attitude and is in theory ahead of the Handicapper. The fact is that we don’t know how good he is or whether he will cope with the rise in class in the July. However, he has a theoretical edge, especially if you believe that the other runners have reached their peaks.

Maharaj then spoke about Rainbow Bridge, Do It Again and Vardy. “Statistics clearly show that the top weight band outperforms all other weight bands in ordinary handicaps where the weight spread is from 60kg to 52kg. The July weights favour the top weights more than that due to the 7 kg spread to the bottom weighted male (53kg) and 8 kg spread to the bottom weighted female.
Rainbow Bridge is in the form of his life and was ridden more positively when producing an eye catching second in the Sun Met, beating the rest of a high quality field including Hawwaam by more than 3,5 lengths and more. There is absolutely no questions about his class and having implemented these positive tactics he may still be on the up. He will have to produce a 135 performance to win.

Last year’s champion Do It Again has been beaten four times in a row by Rainbow Bridge this season but did produce a better effort in the Gold Challenge. Is he back to his best? A 134 or better performance is not impossible for this champion.

Vardy is a class horse with incredible acceleration. Will he be as effective over the 2200m and how will he cope if the race is run at a fast pace? Can he produce a 135 performance over this trip?

Soqrat is a muscular, classy horse whose latest run was encouraging. At his best he is quite capable of a 134 performance.

Twist of Fate’s rating has risen to 129. He has run close to Hawwaam on several occasions and would have received 3,5kg from Hawwaam had the latter participated. Was he undone by the slow pace in the Gold Challenge?
Bunker Hunt may have some stamina doubts but possesses great acceleration and has run with the best in the land. What is your assessment of his Drill Hall win?

Tierra del Fuego also has form with Hawwaam and may still be on the up.
The race doesn’t end there and we haven’t even touched on other factors such as pace.”

Maharaj concluded, “Hopefully there are some clues in this article to help you unravel one of the most debated July’s in recent years.”

“And us Handicappers? We will have all the answers after the race!”

Tote betting open from Monday

Tote betting on the Vodacom Durban July meeting opens in KwaZulu-Natal today, Monday, July 20. This gives punters ample time to work out and place their bets before the big race day on Saturday, July 25.

There are also some massive tote carryovers on the day with R2 million already in the Pick 6 pool with the final pool expected to top R15 million.

There is also a quartet carryover of R1 million on the Vodacom Durban July its self with that pool expected to top R15 million.

There are a host of other carryovers on the day giving punters a chance to win big.

Race 2: BiPot Leg 1 – R100,000 carryover; likely pool R750,000.
Race 3: PA Leg 1 – likely pool R2 million.
Race 4: Pick 6 MEGAPOOL Leg 1 – R2 million carryover; likely pool R15 million.
Race 5: Jackpot ONE Leg 1 – R200,000 carryover; likely pool R2 million.
Race 7: Quartet MAXIPOOL – R1,000,000 carryover; likely pool R15 million.
Race 7: Jackpot TWO Leg 1 – likely pool R1 million.
Race 9: Trifecta – R100,000 carryover; likely pool R1 million.
Race 10: Jackpot Quickmix 2 – R25,000 carryover; likely pool R100,000.

Punters get a further opportunity on the Vodacom Durban July with the tote paying six places.

Punters are reminded that all tote and bookmaker outlets are now open to the pubic so that even those without on-line betting accounts will be able to place their bets.

With social distancing now the norm, punters are advised to get their bets on early to avoid long queues or to open a TABgold account that will afford the luxury of betting from home or on your mobile phone.

Hollywoodbets Greyville is off limits for the general public on race day with only essential staff allowed on course but all the action can be viewed live on DStv channels 204 and 210 starting at 1pm and Tellytrack on channel 239. The Vodacom Durban July is off at 3.10pm.

Gallops run in front of empty stands

In front of empty stands at Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse the traditional pre-Vodacom Durban July Gallops took place under cool and sunny winter skies on Wednesday morning, as the majority of the thoroughbreds named in the final field were put through their paces.

The event has become famous as a public gathering ten days before Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event supported by thousands of punters who enjoy complimentary coffee and sticky buns as they watch each Vodacom Durban July runner gallop, either individually or with a stable mate.

This year the event was watched by a handful of trainers as all but four of the locally-based thoroughbreds in the field of eighteen runners and two reserve runners named on Tuesday completed their televised gallops on the track.

Gauteng-based runners Divine Oddyssey, Tierra de Fuego, Soqrat, Got The Greenlight and Hero’s Honour will complete their Gallops on the highveld before making the trip to Durban for next weekend’s big raceday.

Locally-based runners Vardy, Twist of Fate, It’s My Turn and Capoeira will complete their Vodacom Durban July Gallops in front of the television cameras at Summerveld on Thursday morning.

Gold Circle and the racing yards and trainers went to great lengths to ensure they were fully compliant with the Covid-19 lockdown regulations at the Gallops, as every person admitted to Hollywoodbets Greyville had been pre-approved, had their temperature taken and completed the required medical history and tracing details.

The 2020 Vodacom Durban July will feature a race card shortened to ten races on the track and polytrack at Hollywoodbets Greyville on Saturday 25 July and will be geared towards meeting the needs of the substantial audience that will follow the event on television, many hosting small Vodacom Durban July functions at their homes.