The most important factor in the structuring of the July weights this year will be whether or not the L’Ormarins King’s Plate winner Al Muthana is still standing his ground at the time of the publishing of the weights.
Al Muthana might not be the favourite for the Hollywoodbets Durban July in the ante-post betting, but he is the most important horse on the board because the entire weight structure at this stage depends on him being among the entries at the time of the publishing of the weights.
His presence at the time of the publications of the weights can ultimately make a whopping 2,5kg difference to the relative weight carrying task that Charles Dickens will have to face.
The 2000m of the WSB Met was regarded as a stretch for Al Muthana, although it remains a question mark because he could not get a run in the straight, so the connections might opt for a full go at the Grade 1 Champions Cup rather than attempting to stretch him to 2200m.
However, a weights anomaly will happen, as things stand, if the 133 merit rated Al Muthana is not among the entries at the time of the publication of the weights.
In that case the highest merit rated horse will, as things stand, be Charles Dickens, presuming he is still among the entries.
Furthermore, the crack three-year-old will have the highest net merit rating.
Charles Dickens is currently merit rated 132 and if he stays on that figure his net merit rating, at the time of the running of the Hollywoodbets Durban July, will be 128.
The next highest, as things stand, will be the net 124 merit rated pair Safe Passage and Pomp and Power. The latter pair are both four-year-olds merit rated 124.
Therefore, Charles Dickens’ net merit rating of 128 will be the benchmark for the race and the weights will have to be set accordingly.
The confusion happens due to the clause in the July conditions which states that the maximum weight for a three-year-old male at the time of the publication of the weights is 57kg.
The relevant clause then becomes the one that states, “Notwithstanding 2 and 3 above (i.e. the minimum and maximum weight restrictions per age and gender), the Handicapper will raise all the weights proportionately to 60kg should the top weight originally allotted be less than 60kg at final declaration.
Chief handicapper Lennon Maharaj explained the order in which the relevant adjustments happen in such a scenario.
Charles Dickens will initially be allotted 60kg off his net 128 merit ratings and the rest of the field will be weighted accordingly.
This means Safe Passage and Pomp And Power will be allotted 58kg (two merit rated points equals 1kg).
The clause restricting Charles Dickens to 57kg will only be excercised after all of the weights have been set.
So Charles Dickens will then drop from 60kg to 57kg.
That will leave Safe Passage and Pomp And Power as topweights on 58kg.
They will then have to be dragged up to 60kg.
The rest of the field will be dragged up accordingly by 2kg and that will leave Charles Dickens carrying 59kg.
If this scenario does happen there will probably be a few “experts” who will be touting the usual “a three-year-old can’t win with such a big weight”, but they will in that case be ignoring the fact that Charles Dickens will actually be 3kg well in!
However, if Al Muthana is still in the field at the time of the publications of the weights, then Charles Dickens, as things stand, will only be half-a-kilogram well in as opposed to the above scenario where he is 3kg well in.
Al Muthana will be given 60kg, Charles Dickens will initially be given 57,5kg and Safe Passage and Pomp and Power will only have to carry 55.5kg.
The three-year-old clause is then excercised and Charles Dickens goes down to 57kg, meaning he will have to give Safe Passage and Pomp and Power 1,5kg and that will make him only half-a-kilogram well in.
If Al Muthana is scratched before the declaration stage after the latter scenario, Charles Dickens will in fact have to carry 60kg and Safe Passage and Pomp And Power will be dragged up accordingly to 58,5kg.
Charles Dickens will be carrying more weight in the latter scenario, but his relative weight carrying tsak will still be the same and he will still be half-a-kilogram well in.