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See It Again will be out to emulate Big City Life (2009) and Legislate (2014) as horses to have won all of the Cape Derby, the Daily News 2000 and the July in the same season. He is pictured winning the Daily News 2000 above. (Picture: Candiese Lenferna)

Graeme Hawkins (Gold Circle)
It’s all systems go for the R5-million Hollywoodbets Durban July (HDJ) at Greyville race course on Saturday and, with all Covid restrictions finally out of the way, a full house of approximately 50 000 fans is expected. And recognising the value to the local economy of Africa’s greatest sporting and social event, the City of Durban has come to the party, assuring all visitors and local racegoers that the event will be protected from any form of loadshedding.
Throw into the mix that the weather is expected to be “brilliant sunshine and a pleasant 22 degrees with very little wind”, the 2023 renewal of the HDJ is set to be “Out Of This World” and a blast for racing fans, party-goers, fashion aficionados and celebrity guests alike, many of whom will be travelling from far and wide to be in Durban on the day.
So who amongst the 18 equine stars that make up the field for the HDJ is most likely to win?
Favourite for the race is the KZN-based See It Again who is owned by Nick Jonsson of Jonssons’s Workwear fame, trained by Michael Roberts and will be ridden by veteran star Piere Strydom, who at 57 seeks to become the oldest jockey ever to win the “July”. He will also be out to equal Anton Marcus’s record of riding five July winners. 
Piere has ridden more than 5500 winners throughout his career and threatened retirement about a year ago, but then See It Again fortuitously came into his life when the connections were looking for a jockey to ride the son of Twice Over in the Splashout Cape Derby earlier this year.
He took up the challenge and history now records that Strydom and See It Again, at odds of 50/1, produced a flying finish to inflict defeat on the Champion colt Charles Dickens.
With an eye on the HDJ, any thought of retirement went out the window and Piere was back in the saddle when See It Again wrapped up a perfect July preparation with a fluent win in the Daily News 2000 (Gr 1) at the end of May.
And now they are favourites to win on the biggest stage of all!
And Strydom, as already mentioned, is no stranger to winning the “July”. The most recent of his four July victories was when steering The Conglomerate to a surprise win in 2016.
As a jockey Michael “Muis” Roberts only won the “July” on one occasion and that was way back in 1997 when he was aboard the David Ferraris-trained Super Quality.
Now he seeks to become only the fourth person to both ride and train a Durban July winner – the three previous members of this very special group being Syd Garrett, David Payne and Bert Abercrombie.
When Roberts rode Super Quality to victory he was saddle cloth number 7 and, by a strange twist of fate, See It Again will also carry the number 7 saddle cloth on Saturday.
As an owner Nick Jonsson has enjoyed “July” success as a partner in Do It Again with Bernard Kantor and Nancy Hossack. Do It Again won the race in 2018 & 2019 and has been placed in all three of his subsequent appearances. On Saturday Do It Again lines up for a record-breaking sixth time and the now 8yo looked in fine form at the official gallops last Thursday. He is one of five runners in the race from the powerful Justin Snaith stable.
Snaith is attempting to win the race for a sixth time.
Gavin Lerena has been engaged to ride Do It Again while stable jockey Richard Fourie has chosen to partner Without Question, which also carries the Jonsson colours.
See It Again was bred at the Gaynor Rupert-owned Drakenstein Stud. This high quality breeding operation based in Franchshoek in the Western Cape are the breeders of seven of the eighteen horses in the race, in itself a South African record. Five of these horses will race in the blue and white silks of the Drakenstein Stud including the well fancied Winchester Mansion who is trained by Brett Crawford.
Winchester Mansion appears to have improved enormously since being gelded and was an impressive winner in the recent Cup Trial.
Safe Passage who ran third in this race last year also sports the Drakenstein colours and will be ridden by the internationally acclaimed champion jockey, Christophe Soumillon, who flies in from France the day before the big race.
With so many records up for grabs at this year’s Hollywoodbets Durban July it promises to be fascinating race in which pace and tactics will play a large role in the outcome.
Dave The King, partly owned by golfing legend Gary Player, is one of the likely pacemakers and if allowed to control matters upfront, it is not inconceivable that he could go all the way.
But for See It Again, Piere Strydom, Michael Roberts and Nick Jonsson 1 July 2023 is their date with destiny. Not since the Dennis Drier-trained Spanish Galliard was victorious in 1992 have we seen a KZN-trained horse cross the line first in the July and not since the Ricky Maingard-trained Space Walk was awarded the race after an objection in 1994 has a KZN-based horse been the official winner.
Many will be hoping for KZN’s July drought to end on Saturday.
Current July prices with the sponsor Hollywoodbets:

3.57 See It Again

5.56 Winchester Mansion

7.14 Without Question

10 Safe Passage, Pacaya

12.5 Dave The King
14.29 Son Of Raj
16.67 Rain In Holland, Rascallion
20 Pomp And Power, Puerto Manzano, Do It Again
33.33 Billy Bowlegs
40 Silver Darling, Time Flies, Trip Of Fortune, Bless My Stars, Second Base