Securing a berth in the 18-horse field for this year’s Gr1 R2 million Vodacom Durban July will be a scrap to final acceptances on Monday, 21 June with 54 names on the list at first entries yesterday.

All of the country’s big guns have been entered and it will be a game of chess for trainers trying to make sure of a July gate and at the same time protecting their merit ratings.

The country’s biggest race will be run at Hollywoodbets Greyville over 2200m on Saturday, 3 July.

Rainbow Bridge, a touch disappointing last year when sixth but recent winner of the Cape Town Met, will almost certainly top the handicap and he will be back for another tilt, all being well.

Eric Sands has also nominated stable companion and half-brother Golden Ducat, fourth in last year’s race.

Last year’s runner-up Got The Greenlight will be out go one better for Joey Soma and extract revenge on the winner Belgarion, also among the nominations and one of 11 entries from the Justin Snaith yard.

The four highest rated fillies are also entered, namely recent Gr1 HSH Charlene Empress Club winner and last year’s Equus Horse of the Year, Summer Pudding, facile Wilgerbosdrift Triple Tiara heroin, War Of Athena, Captain’s Ransom, winner of both the Gr1 Cape Fillies Guineas and the  Gr1 Majorca Stakes and Running Brave, second to Summer Pudding in the Empress Club and the Gr1 Gauteng Summer Cup. Other notable entries are last Sunday’s WSB Scarlet Lady winner She’s A Keeper and the highly rated Princess Calla.

Mike de Kock has indicated that Triple Crown winner Malmoos may not take his place in the VDJ but the colt is among the entries along with the cream of the country’s sophomore males. De Kock has also entered Barahin, who is on the comeback trail after being winless since his triumph in the Gr1 Emperors Palace Charity Mile back in November 2019.

Snaith’s highest rated three-year-old, Jet Dark, winner of the Gr1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate beating Rainbow Bridge, has been entered along with 3yo stable companions Hoedspruit, The Gatekeeper and Sachdev.

The unbeaten Gr 2 Politician Stakes winner Kommetdieding, trained by father and daughter combination of Harold Crawford and Michelle Rix, is already based at Summerveld and could have his first KZN outing in the Gr2 WSB Guineas on Saturday, May 2.

Vaughan Marshall has entered Gr1 Jonsson Workwear Cape Derby winner Linebacker and Derby runner-up Rascallion while Dean Kannemeyer has entered Gr1 Cape Guineas winner Russian Rock.

Sean Tarry has entered eight runners and Johan Janse van Vuuren’s three entries include the progressive Argentine import Puerto Manzano.

In all, this years Vodacom Durban July field could stack up into one of the strongest in many a year.

SEE THE FULL LIST OF ENTRIES HERE