David Mollett
So you’ve been bombarded with tips from TV experts, ex-jockeys who have won the race and even your next-door neighbour has chipped in with a selection.
But now it’s time to nail your colours to the mast and decide which horse will carry your money in next Saturday’s Hollywoodbets Durban July.
Possibly, you’ve put aside a sum you’re prepared to lose on SA’s most famous race. Which brings us to the possibility of reducing that outlay if one can land a double – dare we say even a treble – in the races leading up to the July.
This writer spends most of his time studying the UK form, but the Greyville card deserves close scrutiny and here are two horses – running in race two and race six – who might put punters in the money prior to 16h00 – the start time of the big race.
Race 2:
Trainer: Roy Magner
Jockey: Gavin Lerena
Odds: 33-10
One has to take your hat off to Roy Magner because – without any mega rich owners – he has sent out a steady stream of winners since leaving Zimbabwe, where he won the trainers championship three times.
One might describe Roy as “Mr Unruffable” – he always seems calm in any circumstances whereas some of his colleagues boil over with the speed of an electric kettle.
When Taikonaut won his first race at Turffontein in May, Roy told presenter Lyall Cooper that the horse was “decent.” This pricked my ears as Roy is not a trainer who rates his geese as swans.
Unfortunately, I was overseas for Taikonaut’s next start against older horses where he romped home by nearly five lengths.
4Racing expert, Daryl Maree, also spotted the Twice Over colt’s potential, but has one concern about Saturday’s race. “He’s trying 1300m for the first time.”
Good point so we need to examine the pedigree which shows that the Cheveley Stud bred youngster is out of Earth Orbit who won four races up to 1400m. He is a half-brother to two-time winner, Mercury Rising, who hasn’t won beyond 1200m.
Taikanaut wasn’t cheap costing Hong Kong owner, Robert Chung, R600 000 and it was no surprise that Roy was interested in his half-brother (by Querari) at the National Sales in April. Unfortunately, Greg Bortz had the youngster on his shopping list and he usually secures any thoroughbred he wants. The colt was knocked down at R700 000.
Bookies have Muzi Yeni’s mount, Now I Got You, as favourite for the BSA Sales Cup which is fair enough given his excellent second in the Gold Medallion. The Birch Bros-bred gelding was 20-1 for that race so Corrie Lensley’s runner wasn’t on pundits’ radar despite a good debut run at the Vaal in May.
Yeni has a better draw than Gavin Lerena but – though he’s sure to talk up the chance of Kommetdieding and rides the favourite, Grinkov, in the sixth race – Taikonaut might be his best mount on the card.
If Taikonat wins the second race, it will be a boost for Lucky Houdalakis’ runner, Laguna Verde, who beat the Magner inmate by three lengths in March. It looks as though Craig Zackey has chosen Laguna Verde in preference to Formagear. The answer? Take the swinger.
Race 6:
Trainer: Glen Kotzen
Jockey: Richard Fourie
Odds: 8-1
In studying the form for the Gr 2 Golden Horseshoe, this writer kept coming back to Imposing – one of four runners from Glen Kotzen’s stable.
Bookies have Grinkov as favourite and this Normandy Stud-bred colt is chasing a hat-trick and looks a bargain buy at R75 000.
Nevertheless, Imposing ticks a lot of boxes – he’s drawn in pole position, has Richard Fourie in the saddle and hails from one of Lammerskraal’s best families.
Imposing, who cost R350 000 as a yearling, is the 11th produce of the mare Strawberry Lane and a half-brother to six-time winner Solo Traveller and five-time winner, Redberry Lane.
One can argue that Imposing’s sixth place finish in the Gold Medallion was nothing special and Ocean Time finished in front of him. Yet, he has plenty in his favour regarding jockey and draw and – at 8-1 – appeals as an attractive each-way bet.
The right horses for the swinger with Imposing may be Bright Green (unfortunately drawn on North Beach) and Lucky Houdalakis’ runner, Laguna Verde, who beat Taikonaut in March. It looks as if Craig Zackey has chosen the Highveld raider in preference to Formagear.
So how do you put Taikonaut and Imposing together with your July fancy?
1. Taikonaut to win, Imposing to win and your July selection to win.
2. Taikonaut to win, Imposing to place (evens) and your July selection to win.
3. The win double of Taikonaut and Imposing.
Chatting on air to Nico Kritsiotis at the Vaal last week, commentator Alistair Cohen posed the question whether the July gallops were really “any value” in determining the winner of the Hollywoodbets Durban July.
With many of the big race runners working on their own, what punters learnt was that their July fancy hadn’t passed away overnight!
Sheldon  Peters, who will call his 19th July on Saturday (some achievement), appeared particularly excited about the workout of last year’s winner, Kommetdieding. This column’s view is that he falls into the same predicament as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, he needs to win back his supporters.
There was a deadly hush at Turffontein when “Kommet” failed to justify odds of 8-10 in the TAB Premier’s Champions Challenge in April and the four year-old might drift from his current price of 12-1.
Former winning July jockeys, Anthony Delpech and Kevin Shea, knew they were going to be asked for their opinions at the gallops and the latter’s choice of Waterberry Lane for the July had me wondering if someone had slipped a prohibited substance into his coffee.
Yes, Dean Kannemeyer knows what is required to win the July but – unlike 2003 victor Dynasty who had no stamina limitations – Waterberry Lane is unproven over 2200m.
There were probably nods of approval from many people when Anthony Delpech sided with SA Derby winner, Aragosta, to be ridden for the first time by champion elect, Warren Kennedy.
No disrespect to Kabelo Matsunyane, but Aragosta hung in the Daily News and perhaps did well to finish only two lengths behind stablemate, Safe Passage.
Some pundits have expressed the view that pole position is a distinct disadvantage. James Goodman – happily back on our TV screens – has an answer to that. “The fact remains that no jockey rides Greyville better than Warren Kennedy.”
Those punters with ante-post bets on Pomp And Power will feel far from happy after the gallops where the son of Vercingetorix turned in a “Charlie Sheen” performance. In January this year, the actor was fired from “Two And A Half Men” for erratic behaviour, drug use and inflammatory comments.
Richard Fourie probably wishes he could ride stablemate, Jet Dark, but the Snaith camp have opted for 40 year-old Bernard Fayd’Herbe which means no dead weight on the Queen’s Plate winner.
Of the 15 or so racing personalities canvassed in last month’s column to give their selection for a Daily News-July double, only three are through with live tickets.
Nico Kritsiotis (commentator): his selection was Safe Passage to win the Daily News and Sparkling Water to place in the July.
Lance Michael (bookmaker): his selection was Safe Passage onto Linebacker in the July.
Dave Scott (African Betting Clan): his selection was Safe Passage onto Sparkling Water to win the July.
Picture: Taikonaut (JC Photos).