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Diego De Gouveia lands a Gr 1 double at Hollywoodbets Greyville on Gold Cup day 2020 (Candiese Lenferna Photography)
Diego De Gouveia is one of South Africa’s most underrated riders, as he proved at Hollywoodbets Greyville on Gold Cup day in 2020 when riding a Gr 1 double, and his first ride in the country’s premier race, the Hollywoodbets Durban July, is long overdue.
He will be aboard the Mike de Kock-trained Gimmethegreenlight gelding Shoemaker.
He said, “I’ve ridden in the majority of the big races in South Africa, but have always had hard luck stories when it comes to the July, horses becoming reserves, horses not getting in, so I’m glad to have a chance this year. I was pretty confident he would get in after his last run, but I’ve been let down so many times, so it was still a bit nerve-wracking and quite a relief when his name came up.”
Diego rode Shoemaker to a four length fourth in the Gr 1 Betway Summer Cup. If the Summer Cup winner Royal Victory is fancied then Shoemaker must have a chance too, because he is 3kg better off for that four length beating.
Diego said, “He ran a great race in the Summer Cup. He was drawn wide in 17, so Mr De Kock just wanted me to drop him out completely and let him finish and he finished really well. It was a superb run.”
Diego said he knows the Gimmethegreenlight gelding quite well, because he was on him again in his following start in a Pinnacle event over 1800m where he finished third.
So this will be his third ride on Shoemaker.
He said, “From a good draw in the July (draw six), I’d imagine that I wouldn’t be that far back. If you look at his last run in the WSB 1900 with Piere up he sat right up in second behind Oriental Charm. I imagine Mr De Kock will want me to be a lot more positive with him than I have been on previous occasions.”
Shoemaker has been known to over-race, but Diego pointed out that on both of those occasions, in last year’s Cup Trial and last year’s Allied-Steelrode Onamission Charity Mile, he had worn blinkers.
Diego said, “Obviously I understand I have ridden him cold, but on both occasions I’ve ridden him he’s been very relaxed with me in the race. Even at his gallop at Greyville last Thursday he was very relaxed and I also think the pace will be on as there are known frontrunners like Oriental Charm and Purple Pitcher in the field, so I don’t see there being any reason for him to be travelling too strongly.”
Diego confirmed that Shoemaker, who early in his career looked to be a potential leading light of his crop, has “a very good turn of foot.”
He added, “There are no slouches in the July, every horse there deserves to be there, but I am just ecstatic to have a ride.
Diego said about Shoemaker seeing out the trip, “Definitely. He will get the 2200m no problem.”
Diego concluded, “I think I’ve got a light weight and hopefully we can take advantage of that. For me, my goal is to finish in the top six, if he can do that I’ll be ecastatic.”
Diego has never won a Gr 1 on July day before, but has won the Gold Vase before as well as other features and he will be hoping to add to that record.
He rides the Weiho Marwing-trained Prime Example in the Gr 3 DSTV Gold Vase, where he jumps from draw 10 and carries 54kg.
He said, “He must have a chance being trained by Weiho, who is a very, very good trainer of stayers. I’ve had a sit on the horse in the week here in Joburg and he gave me a really nice feel, a typical stayer, lovely action and he uses himself really well. I think there was a bit of a hard luck story in his last run, so am just hoping for a little bit of improvement here.”
Diego is riding Golden Rule in the Gr 2 Durban Golden Horseshoe over 1400m, where he has his first run for Harold Crawford and Michelle Rix. He ran fourth in a Listed race at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth before romping home in a maiden at Fairview.
Diego said, “I rode him at the July gallops, he gave me a nice feel, but he’s got a wide draw to contend with and I don’t think this is his goal. I think they will just like to see a good performance because of the draw, but maybe he can pop up.”
He rides the Robbie Hill-trained Navajo Nation in the Listed Compendium Insurance Brokers Handicap over 1600m and said, “I rode him in a feature on July day last year, it was only his third start and he wasn’t ready. I think he is a really, really nice horse and Mr Hill has always spoken highly of him. I see they have put the blinkers on and I’m hoping he can do something.”
Diego’s last ride of the meeting is on the Mike and Adam Azzie-trained Amber Rock in a MR 90 handicap over 1000m on the poly.
He said, “She’s a really fast filly, she’s very, very, very quick. In her last few starts she’s been a bit slow out of the gates and I don’t want her to necessarily give start on the poly, because that track runs really quick. I think I’m drawn in the middle, so if we can get her out and she can be right there in the mix, I would say she’s got a very good winning chance.”