A soft track will add another dimension to calculations as the build-up to this year’s Vodacom Durban July begins in earnest this weekend with Champions Day at Turffontein on Saturday and three important races at Hollywoodbets Greyville on Sunday.
Heavy rain in Durban yesterday will almost certainly take the sting out of the ground and punters will need to factor that in. The going yesterday was posted as good to soft with a pen reading of 26.
Turffontein has also had rain where the 4Racing Premier’s Champions Challenge looks to be a three-cornered contest between Summer Pudding, Got The Greenlight and Malmoos.
Summer Pudding finally gets to cross swords with two of the best males in training and the handicappers may well be holding their collective breaths given her rating – 4.5kg better than Malmoos and 5kg superior to Got The Greenlight.
But no matter the semantics, it will hopefully be a cracking race.
The South African Guineas was always a Grade 1 contest and the start of South Africa’s Champion Season until Mr Jooste stuck his unwanted nose into racing and replaced the John Skeaping Trophy with an inflated purse for the Premier’s Champions Challenge, ostensibly in a bid to give Champions Season the finger.
The inflated prize money for the races on the day was too tempting for many resulting in the quality of the South African Guineas being affected and down-graded to Grade 2.
The ballast in a listing ship has since shifted and Sunday’s Gr2 WSB Guineas and Gr2 WSB Fillies Guineas are both worthy of Grade 1 status given the quality of the fields.
With the Gr1 Daily News and VDJ in mind, it may be asking a little much of the unbeaten Kommetdieding in the Guineas, so it will not come as much of a surprise should he lose is unbeaten record. But such has been the manner of his wins, that it’s hard to look past him – head and heart!
He was the short-priced ante-post favourite for the G1 Jonsson Workwear Cape Derby before injury put paid to his race and he has not been out since the Politician Stakes back in January.
This will be the first time that he faces some of the cream of the current sophomore crop and just how he copes will be closely watched. He has had a gallop at Hollywoodbets Greyville so looks well prepared.
MK’S Pride has been the ‘pride’ of Gauteng this season and it may be hype versus ability come Sunday. He was good enough to get the better of proven class in Got The Greenlight in the Hawaii Stakes even though the latter may have been short of a gallop and a furlong or two.
From a pole position draw, he has it all to prove.
Vaughan Marshall will be out to prove that the Cape sophomore form is as strong as it is purported to be.
Russian Rock and Rascallion have let the side down in their seasonal KZN debuts so the spotlight will be on Linebacker, runner-up in the Cape Guineas but remedied in the Jonsson Workwear Cape Derby. His form is hard to fault and he cannot be left out of anything along with stable companion Seeking The Stars who was a comfortable winner last run and not far back in the Cape Guineas.
Cape Guineas winner Russian Rock will also be under the spotlight again.
In golfing terms, the Gr2 WSB Fillies Guineas looks something of a ‘gimme’ for Captain’s Ransom. Justin Snaith’s filly looks exceptional and has already taken on and beaten older runners at Grade 1 level.
She galloped impressively on the course last week and from a plum draw she will be difficult to beat and will be many a punter’s banker.
Of the balance Princess Calla and possibly Only The Brave could provide some opposition.
Eric Sands has opted to get his charges, Rainbow Bridge and Golden Ducat, going early in what will be a path to the Vodacom Durban July with both horses owned by Mike Rattray who is desperate for a win in a race he has always converted.
Rainbow Bridge is rated way better than his rivals in the Independent On Saturday Drill Hall Stakes but the seven furlongs is on the short side and Sands will be banking on class to get him home as the gelding faces two 1400m specialists in Catch Twentytwo and Pinkerton.
www.goldcircle.co.za – Andrew Harrison