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The Durban July

3 minute read

A crowd of no less than 50,000 people will flood into Greyville racecourse this Saturday for The Durban July.

SAFE PASSAGE
SAFE PASSAGE Picture: Liesl King

Widely renowned as South Africa's more prestigious race, The Durban July is the one that every local owner, trainer and jockey want to win the most.

A bit like the Melbourne Cup, it's a high-quality handicap, but with a maximum field of eighteen-runners over 2200m.

Let's have a look at a few race trends.  

Since 2005 only three of the fairer sex have conquered the race, although one of those was last year's winner, the Mike de Kock trained 4yo filly, Sparkling Water. 

SAFE PASSAGE track work
SAFE PASSAGE track work Picture: Liesl King

Although considered a tight turning track with a short straight, the eighteen –runner maximum field has seen plenty of high draw winners, will eleven successful since 2005, including the last three.  

3yos have a good record in the race with eight winners since 2005, the most recent being Kommetdieding in 2021. 

Trainer Justin Snaith, who has five runners entered in this year's renewal, has been the most successful trainer in recent years, having won the race four times with three different runners since 2014. 

RUNNER-BY-RUNNER GUIDE 

BLESS MY STARS 

One of four fillies in the race. Was placed in a Group 2 last April over 2000m. This will be her acid test, but she has a light weight and draws the inside.   

WITHOUT QUESTION 

One of five Justin Snaith-trained runners. Yet to win over the distance, however, was placed over 2000m behind the likely favourite for this, See It Again, in the Grade 1 Daily News last time out, and meets his rival on 2kg better terms here. Worth watching.

TIME FLIES 

An ultra consistent 4yo filly that isn't the worst outsider of the field. She was runner-up in the Grade 1 Woolavington over 2000m last start, and although she dives into deeper waters, from the good draw, she is one to consider for the exotics.  

WINCHESTER MANSION 

Has always shown ability but has featured in the stewards a few times, mostly for greenness. But has shown plenty of improvement since being gelded in February, winning a Grade 3 over 1800m last time, and given he has won over 2400m as a 3yo, could be one to take advantage of a high pressure 2200m race.    

BILLY BOWLEGS 

Has run with merit in defeat in Grade 1s at his last three starts, including when runner-up in the South African Derby in April. But this represents a big step up in grade, and Gavin Lerena jumps off to ride a rival.  

DO IT AGAIN 

One of only five horses to win this race back-to-back (2018/19), and they will tear the grandstand down in excitement if he were to become the first thrice winner at his record breaking sixth, and last ever start in the race. On current form he looks up against it, but he did run fourth in years renewal, and it would be the biggest shock if the now 8yo were to create history.  

SEE IT AGAIN 

The likely favourite is a 3yo colt who is yet to go beyond 2000m, but his two starts over that trip have seen him win The Cape Derby in February, then last time out when he took out the Daily News in good style, which is considered a leading trial for this event. His rider, Pierre Strydom, is considered one of the greats of the South African turf, and at 57 years young, he will become the oldest rider to win the race if successful for a fifth time. 

SILVER DARLING 

Hard to consider given she hasn't won for over a year. However, did run with plenty of merit from a tough draw over 2000m in the Grade 1 Woolavington when placed last time out, and could hit the frame with a smooth commute. 

SON OF RAJ 

A 3yo gelding who disappointed last time out in the Grade 1 Daily News when well held by See It Again, which was his first run at Greyville. But he did win his previous two, including the Grade 1 South Africa Derby at Turffontein, and would be a live chance with the lightweight if able to replicate that form here. 

DAVE THE KING 

On rider bookings, looks the second pick of the Mike de Kock pair. He doesn't usually go over this distance but did run with merit in defeat when runner-up in the Grade1 Daily News behind See It Again. There are no guarantees he gets the trip, but he does represent last year's winning trainer, and he could surprise if he stays.   

PUERTO MANZANO 

Was well beaten in this last year, but he is a multiple Grade 1 winner who lands here having won his last two. He is a top-class performer at Turffontein, but has been unplaced both times he has ventured to Greyville.  

PACAYA 

Multiple winner as a 2yo who went winless during his 3yo season, but has bounced back to win two of his three starts as a 4yo, both wins coming after being gelded. He has never won at the top level or been over this trip, but he had a few of these in behind when winning a Grade 2 over 1900m when having his first spin on the Greyvillle track last time.  

SECOND BASE 

Had been out of form for a while but turned that around when runner-up in the Grade 1 Champions Challenge at Turffontein las time out, which was his first run for the yard. Hasn't won for over a year, and does look an outsider, but there were noticeable signs of improvement last run.  

SAFE PASSAGE 

Trained by last year's winning trainer, with leading European rider, Christophe Soumillon, jetting in for the ride. Whilst he hasn't won for over a year, he did finish third in this race last year and has been kept to shorter distances since, with his best effort during that time when runner-up in the Grade 1 Summer Cup over 2000m at Turffontein last November. Looks to have been purposely prepared for this, and although has high-end owners, it's doubtful the rider comes all this way unless there is confidence in the camp.  

RASCALLION 

Ran fifth in this race last year as a 3yo. He was only one spot behind Safe Passage when unplaced over the mile last outing but meets Pacaya 3kgs better off having finished third the start prior over 1900m. Has had a few chances but looks one to keep on the safe side over this distance. 

TRIP OF FORTUNE 

Brilliant miler who has won nine of his eighteen starts, but has never journeyed been beyond a mile, and this is a tough introduction to a longer trip, and he also has to contend with what looks to be a tricky draw.  

RAIN IN HOLLAND 

High-class 4yo filly, that won South Africa's Triple Tiara. Although never been over this trip, she did win the South Africa Oaks over 2450m as a 3yo and been successful twice over 2000m. She has what looks to be a tough draw, but certainly has quality about her, and holds a perfect two from two record at Greyville.    

POMP & POWER 

Beaten seven-lengths in this as a 3yo last year and has been turned over in all six subsequent starts. However, he did run a huge race in the MET at Cape Town in January finishing in the minor placings, so can't be totally discounted, but he does have to carry 5kgs more than last year, and from the outside draw.

Selections: 

  • SAFE PASSAGE
  • WINCHESTER MANSION 
  • SEE IT AGAIN

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