DIVINE Odyssey kept he hopes for the 2020 Vodacom Durban July alive with a one-length victory over Marshall Foch the Grade 3 Jubilee Handicap over 1800m at Turffontein on Sunday.
The Jubilee, The Cup Trial and the WSB 1900 are among races regarded as “preferred” qualifying contests (after Gr1 races) taken into account when the VDJ panel decides the fate of the final field for the Vodacom Durban July. Trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren and his connections will be hoping that this well-performed six-time winner has done enough to please the panel.
Divine Odyssey (15-2) sat midfield under Raymond Danielson as 7-2 favourite Marshall Foch led the way from Lake Kinneret, Full Mast and Alibi Guy.
Danielson intentionally kept Divine Odyssey off the fence as per his instructions from the trainer. “He’s a bit of a quirky horse,” explained Janse van Vuuren. “He gets on with certain riders, he either likes you or he doesn’t. Thank goodness he gets on with Raymond.
“He also hates being on the fence so I told Raymond sit one off the fence and try and go for a run down the middle.”
Danielson followed the instructions to a tee and once in the straight got his mount to run down the centre. Marshall Foch, meanwhile, finally cast off the attentions of Lake Kinneret and Full Mast and looked to have got the race in the bag.
But Danielson got his mount to respond well and the pair home with 100m to go to give the jockey two wins from two rides on the five-year-old son of Oratorio. Third place went to Full Mast with D’ Arrivee flying up for fourth.
“The horse was a bit of a hard ride towards the end but he doesn’t give up which is nice,” said Danielson. “I think that’s what won him the race.”
Talking about Divine Odyssey’s Durban July chances, Janse van Vuuren said: “Last year he got in at the bottom of the weights at his rating but this year the top weight is a lot higher rated so he’s going to be a bit under sufferance. But you know what, the horse is coming to the end of his career and we’ve got nothing to lose.
“I know he was not in the top 20 yet, we were in the next five. He’ll probably get a point or two penalty today, hopefully there are a few scratchings and we can get in. He is a horse who comes well this time of the year.”
Divine Odyssey is by Oratorio from Divine Right, by Dynasty, bred by Laurence Wernars and racing for Wernars and partners Colin Gordon, Robbie Binnie and Janse Van Vuuren Racing.