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Flag Man is one of two runners the many-times-placed-July-owner Larry Nestadt part-owns in this year’s Hollywoodbets Durban July and gives him a real chance of being in the winner’s enclosure (Candiese Lenferna Photography)  
Owner Larry Nestadt has gone close in the Durban July a number of times, on one occasion under controversial circumstances, and he has a real chance of getting into the winner’s enclosure of this year’s Hollywoodbets sponsored event.
He has shares in the Gareth van Zyl-trained Flag Man and the Mike de Kock-trained Aragosta.
He said, “Flag Man looks like a good horse. He’s thrown into the deep  end in lots of ways, but I think he’s a very decent horse. He could be anything, we will find out. Aragosta … the form is not so good around the older horses. It looks like a three-year-old game this year, but maybe I am wrong.”
Larry heard the comment on one of the HDJ panel discussions that if the like of Royal Victory and Future Swing are given a chance then Aragosta must also be.
However, he added, “But he is 50/1 in the betting and that tells you something else.”
Aragosta is drawn in seven and Flag Man is drawn 17, which was a nice coincidence because 17 is Larry’s lucky number.
Larry said about Flag Man, “The draw  is terrible, but in my mind the wider horses seem to keep out of trouble and if they can get a reasonable position they are just as well off as all of those horses fighting in the middle of the pack.”
Larry’s first encounter as a July owner was with the magnificently bred Northern Dancer colt Rakeen, whom he brought over here for stallion purposes after he was spotted overseas by renowned KZN horseman Anton Procter.
Rakeen jumped from draw 15 of 20 in 1991 and carrying 51,5kg under Jeff Lloyd was beaten just half-a-length into third by Flaming Rock with another imported horse, future champion stallion Al Mufti, finishing a 0,25 length second.
Rakeen’s biggest claim to fame was producing the champion racehorse and seven-times national champion stallion Jet Master.
However, Larry blames himself and his partners for Rakeen’s overall relative lack of success as a stallion and said, “The problem was we were amateurs in those days. We never gave him decent mares, we then sent him to America, he never got mares there. Then he came back here to Lammerskraal and he was already an old horse by then. That was the best horse to ever come in to this country. He was the last son of Northern Dancer ever to race and his dam was a 17-time winner who won eight Group 1s and she produced a whole lot of stallions (including Singspiel and Rahy). It was a fantastic bloodline and we messed it up.”
Nevertheless, three of Larry’s horses who subsequently placed in the July were all by Rakeen, they being North By Northwest who finished fifth in 1997 and fourth in 1998, Young Rake who was the runner up in 2000, and Norfolk Realm who was fourth in 1999.
Larry also part-owned the 2010 runner up Irish Flame.
However, the closest he ever went was with Young Rake, who lost by a short-head in one of the most controversial happenings in July history.
The connections, who also included the prolific owner Greg Blank, have always said they would have accepted the result had they been shown the original photo finish picture. However, to this day they have never been shown it and have instead only been shown one which was unsatisfactorily blown up by multiple times.
The original photo does not appear to exist today, because requests to see it only result in that same blown up one being sent.
The estimates of how long it took for the judges to separate the original winner El Picha from Young Rake range from about eight to 15 minutes. Suffice to say it took an inordinately long time for a result to be declared.
Bev McMurray was in the photo finish room that day and after capturing the photograph on her computer and then, with judges Warren Eisele, Colin Buckham and Lionel Bush watching on their monitor downstairs, she placed the lines on the horses’ noses.
She said in an interview in about 2010, “I could see immediately that El Picha had won. At the time I couldn’t understand why they were taking so long to declare the result.”
Apparently a debate had ensued revolving around the rule that if there is a discernible difference a result must be declared.
But the irksome thing for the connections has always been, where is the original photograph?
Larry feels the connections of Young Rake were robbed.
His other second place finish with Irish Flame was possibly influenced by the Daily News 2000 result. Irish Flame had beaten Bold Silvano by 0,25 lengths in the latter race and thus had to give him half-a-kilogram in the July. He was beaten a length in the July, but did get compensation later by being named Equus Horse Of The Year.
Larry Nestadt has poured a lot into the industry and deserves a win in South Africa’s most iconic race.
His partners in Flag Man are Gary Player, Dave MacLean and Reon Barnard.
Of course the whole of South Africa would be thrilled to see the sporting icon Gary Player win the July and he would be a most deserving winner too as a passionate owner and breeder of many decades standing.
Dave MacLean is also well known as a prolific owner who would thoroughly deserve a win.
It would also be a deserving victory for Flag Man’s breeders Clifton Stud and those who look for signs would have notcied their first July winner had a similar name, Classic Flag.
Larry’s partners in the Wilgerbosdrift and Mauritzfontein Stud-bred Rafeef gelding Aragosta are Mike de Kock himself, Murray Makepeace, “JJ” van der Linden and Noelene Malherbe.
Flag Man is out to become the first KZN-based horse to win the July for thirty years and his jockey Serino Moodley would be the first person from the passionate Indian racing community in Durban to win the July.
Aragosta will be ridden by Marco van Rensburg.