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.