The Hollywoodbets Durban July meeting saw great racing on a balmy winter’s day, but was sadly spoilt by an abandonment of the last three races as loadshedding reared its ugly head again (Picture: Hollywoodbets)
NHA Chief Responds To Lights Out Fiasco
The Hollywoodbets Durban July meeting had to be abandoned with still three races to be run for safety reasons after loadshedding had kicked in and this was costly to the industry in more ways than one.
NHA CEO Vee Moodley, in response to the various arguments and rumours that have been circulating on social media, said, “This is a classic case of smoke and fire and people arguing about the smoke. Where there is smoke there is fire and the fire here is the South African problem of Eskom and loadshedding. Without loadshedding there would not have been any arguments. So we should stop fighting with each other about the smoke. Instead the industry leaders should come together and discuss ways and means of preventing this from ever happening again.”
The official NHA stipendiary steward report on the calamity stated:
As the riders proceeded to the start of this race, the racecourse was cast into darkness due to load shedding which commenced at 18h00 in the vicinity of the Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse.
Upon enquiry from the Stewards, Gold Circle management advised that load shedding was not planned for the period from 18h00 to 20h00 in the vicinity due to a pre-arrangement with the Metro. It was added subsequently that the electricity was switched off at 18h00, and would then be restored, but that it would take at least thirty minutes for the floodlights to be powered up to facilitate racing. The Stewards called for a meeting with the riders and it was established that they had serious concerns that they had been left in darkness en-route to the start, which in their opinion would potentially put their lives and that of their horses at risk.
The Stewards enquired from Gold Circle if any guarantees could be given that the electricity would be constant and uninterrupted once the floodlights were powered up. The response was that no guarantees could be given. During the meeting there was a further dip in the electricity which raised further concerns from all parties present.
The jockeys were then asked if they would consider waiting until 20h00 until the planned original load shedding schedule had ended, to which they replied in the negative as no guarantees of constant, uninterrupted electricity at this projected time, could be given by any party.
The Stewards, after carefully considering the opinions from the riders, the Veterinary Surgeons and the Gold Circle representatives formed the opinion that the lives of the jockeys and the horses could not be placed at risk in these circumstances and decided that the race meeting should be abandoned in the interest of rider safety, horse welfare and the integrity of racing.
A solution will have be found by industry leaders before the Gold Cup meeting because that also traditionally has a race or two under floodlights and as it is a Hong Kong World Pool event the times of the races will probably not be able to be set to only suit South African audiences.
The Hollywoodbets Durban July finish was a thriller (Picture: via Gold Circle facebook page).
Hollywood Didn’t Deserve The Bouncer After Superb Promotion Of Durban July
Gaynor Rupert, third from left, in conversation with jockey Kabelo Matsunyane before the presentations (Candiese Lenferna Photography).
Gaynor Rupert Talks Of Pride In Drakenstein After Milestone July Exacta
Kabelo Matsunyane and Winchester Mansion on their way to victory at the Durban July. Picture: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images
Horse Power Drives Kabelo Matsunyane To The Top At Durban July
The young jockey pipped his hero to land the biggest prize in the SA game.
Mike Moon (The Citizen)
“I found my passion and purpose when introduced to the sport of horse racing.”
In his second year in the academy, the star pupil was selected to spend a month at the British Racing School. In his third year, he rode in France in a Future Racing Stars race and finished fourth.
While never challenging to be champion apprentice, Kabelo quietly won admirers in the training ranks, many of whose names he burbled out in thanks as he stood victorious on the Greyville turf on Saturday.
Since his graduation from the academy in August 2022, the young man has truly hit his straps in the irons, so to speak. He has racked up winner after winner and currently stands at seventh on the national log. This is a notable achievement at his age, earning him plaudits as the most improved jockey in South Africa.
Winchester Mansion was his 101st winner for the 2022/23 season.
“I love the power of how the horse has allowed me to take the reins and work towards achievements I had never even thought of before,” he says.
Striker Had No Excuses For HDJ Favourite’s Defeat
Piere Strydom offered no excuses in running for the Hollywoodbets Durban July favourite See It Again and felt he could only have done better with a faster pace and with less weight.
The Michael Roberts-trained star Twice Over three-year-old colt was attempting to emulate Big City Life (2009) and Legislate (2014) as horses to have won all of the Gr 1 Cape Derby, the Gr 1 Daily News 2000 and the Gr 1 Durban July.
However, in a thrilling ding-dong eyeball-to-eyeball tussle from the 250m mark with the Brett Crawford-trained Winchester Mansion he was unable to find extra when it counted.
He had to settle for an official quarter-of-a-length second.
Dave The King went through the 1000m mark (1200m from the start) in a time of 72,04 seconds.
The going was also good to soft, so Dave The King was setting fractions that could be considered too fast.
However, at the halfway stage there must have been a good five lengths back to the second-placed horse, whilst See It Again was sitting two horses further back from there.
Strydom appears to believe that by the time they had hit the straight his horse had gone a touch slower than ideal.
He said, “I had the run of the race, a beautiful position. At the top of the straight there was quite a bit of scrimmaging and they were doing one another and gaps opened on the inside. I slipped through and obviously got there very quickly and very easily. I had to then nurse him and nurse him. But when I asked him he gave me and I thought maybe we would win, but the other horse was just coming back.”
He continued, “I think there are two things that could maybe have been better for us. Firstly, if the pace was faster. Then I would have run at him and not tried to get there quickly. Secondly, the weight. How does a young three-year-old give an older horse weight. That is something the handicappers need to look at. I know you can only give a handicapping horse weight according to performance, but how does a young three-year-old give a lightly raced four-year-old weight? It should have been the other way around.”
In the defense of the handicappers See It Again in a ten race career went into the race as the winner of both of the most prestigious three-year-old middle distance Grade 1s in the country, whilst Winchester Mansion, in a 15 race career, went in as a twice Gr 3 winner.
Furthermore, the margin of defeat was only a quarter-of-a-length, so had the weight been the other way around it would have seen See It Again romping home unopposed.
Nevertheless, it provided another example of the best horse not winning the race everybody in the country most wants to win, and that can be a bitter pill to swallow.
That is not a suggestion the conditions should be changed, because making it weight for age would probably rob the race of the enormous intrigue surrounding it every season.
Strydom continued, “Otherwise I can’t complain.”
Asked whether he felt he was still in with a chance in the closing stages, Strydom was very forthright in his reply.
He said, “I could feel him coming, so I thought I would try and intimidate him a bit. It didn’t work, the horse was too good for us.”
He added philosophically, “If you asked me before the race, ‘How would you want the race to be run?’, I would have replied the way it worked out for me, so I have no excuses.”
Striker was full of praise for trainer Michael “Muis” Roberts.
He said, “I must say Muis turned the horse out beautifully. He was actually better this time than he was last time (for the Daily News 2000). He was more relaxed and less sweaty. He did a great job and the form shows it too. We beat Dave The King and Without Question out of sight whereas with the weight turnaround they should have finished on top of one another.”
It would have been a fairytale had Strydom managed to win the race, because the now 57 year-old rider had only come out of retirement for an eye issue in order to reach the 5500 career winners mark. Some good big race rides were then offered to him, including See It Again. Having openly said last year’s July was his last ride in the big race, he was now back again to have another crack at joining Anton Marcus as the only one to have ridden five winners in the country’s premier horse race.
He revealed, “Yes it would have been a fairytale and at the 300m I actually thought, ‘can you believe it, I’m going to maybe crack that fifth one’, but to my horror something came on my outside. Then I knew it was a race and was just hoping my horse would be better or hold on, but it was not to be.”
Piere said he believed See It Again would come back for Gold Cup day to run in the Gr 1 Hong Kong World Pool Champions Cup.
The legendary rider said that would likely be his swansong.
Farewell To The Legend Do It Again
Do It Again added to his legend on Saturday by not only becoming the only horse to run in the Hollywoodbets Durban July six times but by making the frame for the sixth time.
The Justin Snaith-trained eight-year-old Twice Over gelding’s July record is 2018 first, 2019 first, 2020 third, 2021 fourth, 2022 fourth, 2023 fourth and that is not to mention how unlucky he was in 2021.
His July performances at the weights have been: 2018 best performed runner, 2019 best performed runner, 2020 best performed runner, 2021 best performed runner, 2022 third best performed runner, 2023 fourth best performed runner.
Do It Again was allowed his own special farewell canter past after the big race on Saturday and was given a rousing ovation.
Part-owner Nick Jonsson summed it up when asked after the Daily News 2000 whether the great horse’s three-parts brother See It Again could perhaps be even better than him, he replied without hesitation, “Do It Again is the best horse I have ever owned … I will never own a horse as good as him.”
Snaith Racing have compiled a fitting instagram tribute video of Do It Again which can be viewed below:
Trip Of Fortune on the way to the start under late substitute rider Raymond Danielson after Aldo Domyer was booked off ill (Candiese Lenferna Photography).
Trip Of Fortune Third Best Performed Runner In July
South African sports fans must be among the most bandwagon sub-cultures in the world and accordingly large numbers often cotton on to a thread without any of them having checked the facts.
One of the threads doing the rounds after the Hollywoodbets Durban July is that Winchester Mansion was able to win the big race only because the entry of Trip Of Fortune enabled him to carry a lesser weight than he would otherwise have done and it was thus a manipulated result.
In fact if Trip Of Fortune had not been supplemented it would have been easier for Winchester Mansion.
Without his supplementary entry the weights would have been set on Zapatillas who would have then been scratched on the Wednesday after the setting of the weights.
So without Trip Of Fortune being supplemented Winchester Mansion would have carried 54,5kg and See It Again would have carried 58,5kg.
With Trip Of Fortune in the race Winchester Mansion carried 53kg compared to the 56,5kg of See It Again.
So with Trip Of Fortune in the race he received only 3,5kg from See It Again instead of 4kg … and that is not to mention the view of some that it is harder for a three-year-old to give weight to older horses when carrying a big weight than when carrying a lesser weight.
Drakenstein’s racing manager Kevin Sommerville was transparent a couple of days before the race about the reason for Trip Of Fortune’s supplementary entry.
He said it gave Drakenstein one more runner and the opposition one less, which therefore gave them a mathematically better chance of winning the race.
The decision proved justified because Trip Of Fortune, who finished a 5,90 length seventh carrying 60kg, was the third best performed runner in the race and he was the second home of the five Drakenstein Stud homebreds.
Idabelle (The United States) is the second of the Khumalo/Smith treble of winners (Pauline Herman Photography).
Smith Forges Clear After Khumalo Scores Him A Treble
S’Manga Khumalo rode a treble for Gavin Smith on the Fairview poly today and this saw the latter going three clear of Alan Greeff in the intriguing race for the East Cape Trainers title.
Louis Mxothwa scored a double.
Smith is now on 116 wins for the season achieved at a strike rate of 9.97%.
Khumalo is on 160 wins for the season at 15.83%.
Mxothwa is on 122 wins at 14.84%.
An old picture of Greyville racecourse.
How big was the crowd at the first July in 1897?
The winner of the July’s inaugural running, Campanajo.