2021 Vodacom Durban July - no spectators but still a spectacle!
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Adjusted Level 4 Lockdown has put paid to any on-course spectators attending today’s Vodacom Durban July meeting to be held at Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse.
Although there will be no spectators on course, it will not detract from the spectacle of 18 of the country’s top gallopers out to add their name to the 125-year honours roll.
At the top of the ante-post market since the nominations were announced is Joey Soma’s colt, Got The Greenlight. He was runner-up last year to the well weighted winner Belgarion and it would be fitting for him to go one better today.
However, there are reservations in some circles who point out that Got The Greenlight will be attempting to overcome the longest layoff for a winner for 87 years. No winner since Sun Tor in 1934, who came off a 161-day layoff, has come off as long a layoff as Got The Greenlight’s, which will be 63 days today.
Soma has also played his cards carefully and Got The Greenlight has everything in his favour this time around and luck in running should see him go close again.
Rainbow Bridge is the crowd favourite but he has it all to do, giving weight and also a tricky gate at draw 1 where he could get shuttled back early in the scrum for the rail. He is big, strong and consistent and no doubt Eric Sands and jockey Luke Ferraris will have worked on a strategy. Should he win, Ferraris would become the first teenager to win the race for 52 years after Alan “Snowy” Reid on Naval Escort in 1969. Ferraris has jelled with Rainbow Bridge and victory will also realise a dream for owner Mike Rattray who has been trying to win this race for over four decades.
There is little separating the three-year-olds Linebacker, stable companion Rascallion and Kommetdieding. Linebacker is the obvious choice of the three given his recent record where he had both Rascallion and Kommetdieding behind him.
He showed a blistering turn of foot in both the Gr2 WSB Guineas and the Gr1 Daily News 2000 in his build-up to the July and Vaughan Marshall has given his charge the ideal preparation going into the race. Rascallion, who was finishing like a train in the Daily News 2000 and was only run out of it inside the last 100m by Linebacker, will also have his supporters. Kommetdieding was a short-priced favourite for the Gr1 Jonsson Workwear Cape Derby, won by Linebacker, before being side-lined by injury.
He has not had the best of luck in his two build-up races. He was involved in scrimmaging in the WSB Guineas and having to make up ground in the straight where he was motoring home. He did not get the best of passages in the Daily News 2000 either and appeared to be still green on the right-hand bend. He has a change of rider and is drawn widest which may be a blessing.
The winning trainer of the last 3 VDJ’s, Justin Snaith, holds a strong hand with four runners in Do It Again, Belgarion, Crown Towers and Nexus. Do It Again can become the first horse in history to win the race three times and he put up an impressive piece of work at the official July gallops last Thursday. He appears to be back to his peak and may live up to his name with stable rider Richard Fourie aboard.
Possible dark horse in the field is the filly She’s A Keeper. Beaten only once, she comes into the race as a relative unknown as she takes on the really big guns for the first time. She scythed through the field to win the WSB 1900 and even her rider, current champion jockey Warren Kennedy is undecided on how good she may be. She carries the bottom weight and if Kennedy can keep her out of trouble and relatively handy in the early exchanges from gate 10, she could run them all out of it.
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