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Summerveld maestro Dennis Drier reflected on his only Durban July winner with Spanish Galliard (Gay Fandango) in 1992, 30 years go, and also gave an inkling into what made his Uncle Syd Laird such a great trainer.
Drier, asked what he remembered about the win in the big race which is these days sponsored by Hollywoodbets, said, “Everything. You can never forget the day, the moment, the excitement, the adrenalin … everything, but I didn’t realise it was 30 years ago it seems like it was the other day.”
The silks of owner DG Nicholson who owned Spanish Galliard (pictured) in partnership with Mr and Mrs H F Oppenheimer
Spanish Galliard, a five-year-old chestnut gelding, had gained a reputation up until then as a perennial bridesmaid.
Drier said, “Yes he was a bridesmaid but funnily enough that year we were very confident. Well drawn (5 out of 19), well weighted (54.5kg). I remember Robbie Sham saying to me, ‘You have never had him better and he has never felt better’ … and then the race went for us. It was a great moment.”
He said it was a pinnacle achievement in his career alongside winning eight Grade 1 Gold medallions and training the like of Beach Beauty, Val De Ra and Master Of My Fate.
Dennis is the nephew of South Africa’s only Hall Of Fame trainer, the great Syd Laird, who won a record seven Julys, and was his assistant for ten years.
He said, “If you are at a university for ten years with one of the greatest if not the greatest trainer the country has produced and you didn’t learn anything you would never learn anything.”
He revealed the biggest lesson he learnt from “Uncle Syd.”
“I learnt about getting a horse fit, but then the art of keeping the horse there was the be all and end all for Uncle Syd, so that the graph didn’t slacken off. Once you have got them there, the art was to keep them at that level for as long as possible. The art was to keep the horse at that level for the whole season and not just for one race.”
In fact in the build up to the July Spanish Galliard lost the Grade 1 Schweppes Challenge (Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge) on an objection to the great miler Flaming Rock, who had won the July in 1991, and apparently many felt it was an unjust verdict.
The top class mare Olympic Duel was beaten more than two lengths in that race, so it was a fine feat to keep Spanish Galliard on the boil for the July where he beat the outsider Eastbrook by half-a-length with Olympic Duel, from whom he received 3kg, beaten a length into third.  
Spanish Galliard quickened superbly at the top of the straight and scythed through the centre to hit the front about at about the 200m mark and the top class jockey “Rocking Robbie” Sham, known for his unusually high stance in the saddle, kept him going in fine fashion.
1992 July Replay:
Spanish Galliard is the only July winner owned by the Oppenheimer family whom they did not breed. They have owned six July winners, of which five were homebred, and have bred seven July winners.

Main Picture: A shoe worn by Spanish Galliard in the July.