It’s Ten Gun Sa­lute!

Post - - Sport - AN­DREW HAR­RI­SON

DUNCAN How­ells is KZN’s lead­ing trainer and the only lo­cal trainer with run­ners in Satur­day’s R4.25 mil­lion Vo­da­com Dur­ban July. How­ells was left beam­ing af­ter Ten Gun Sa­lute blew away the field in the Bet­ting World 1900 af­ter be­ing in two minds whether to run the geld­ing right up to the day of the race.

“He pulled a back mus­cle in the Drill Hall so was out of work for a few days. Af­ter that Beth Shaw (equine phys­io­ther­a­pist) worked on him ev­ery day. Af­ter his work on the Fri­day he pulled up sound and as this was prob­a­bly his only chance of making the July field I de­cided to have a go, but it was huge pres­sure.”

The gam­ble paid off and Ten Gun Sa­lute scythed through the field from near last to win go­ing away in pos­si­bly the most im­pres­sive build-up race to the July. “Muzi (Yeni) said he thought he was out of his ground just be­fore turn­ing for home so went wide to get closer. Ten Gun then just took off with him.”

Ten Gun Sa­lute was strongly fan­cied in last year’s July but How­ells says he is in a far bet­ter space now. “He’s had his is­sues, but since his geld­ing and be­ing taken down with a lead pony, he is a dif­fer­ent horse. I can­not get him any bet­ter.”

But as lead­ing trainer Justin Snaith says, “There are lots of big races in the win­ter sea­son but re­ally this is the race we all want to win and you have to sneak in off the best weight that you can.”

Brett Craw­ford, hav­ing the sea­son of his life, is a man of few words in public but is con­fi­dent of a big run from the favourite Edict Of Nantes.

Win­ner of the Gr1 In­vestec Derby and the Gr1 Daily News 2000, he points out that last year lead­ing three-year-old Abashiri went into the July with 59kg and Edit Of Nantes, with rel­a­tively sim­i­lar form, only has 54kg to shoul­der

On that rea­son­ing, ei­ther Abashiri was way over-rated or Edict Of Nates is way un­der-rated. Most would go for the lat­ter sce­nario and with An­ton Mar­cus pre­pared to strip 2kg off his reg­u­lar rid­ing weight, Edict Of Nantes is a wor­thy favourite. “My sta­ble is in top form at the mo­ment,” rea­soned Craw­ford.

“I’m very happy with my horses. Edict has come through his last run like he never had a run – he is very well.”

But wher­ever Edict Of Nates fin­ishes, Al Sa­hem should be up­sides as the two fought out a tight bat­tle in the Daily News 2000 and cham­pion trainer Sean Tarry’s run­ner is 0.5kg bet­ter off.

In the­ory that should be enough to see the pair fin­ish within a nos­tril of each other but while Edict Of Nates has drawn mid-field, Al Sa­hem as drawn 1 which over the years has proved to be a cof­fin draw.

“I would have pre­ferred to be out of the scrum, but I ex­pect him to have enough early pace to find sec­ond or third place in the run­ning,” said Tarry.

In over a cen­tury only six horses have been suc­cess­ful from that gate, the pos­si­ble rea­son be­ing that one is sel­dom al­lowed to run your own race.

You ei­ther have to go and hold po­si­tion or drop out and be pre­pared to take you lumps at the back of the field.

Former cham­pion jockey and July win­ning rider Garth Puller put it in a nut­shell. “It’s may­hem from the start to the first turn at the Drill Hall with ev­ery­one look­ing for po­si­tion.”

That said, Al Sa­hem has never fin­ished fur­ther back than sec­ond in his ca­reer. He is also a big, strong and feisty colt and with a lit­tle luck in the run­ning S’Manga Khu­malo could bring home the ba­con for the sec­ond time af­ter win­ning for Tarry on Heavy Metal.

The four-year-old’s look well weighted this year and most have got in pretty much on their hand­i­cap mark so Snaith is con­fi­dent of a big run from all of his charges

Al­though cau­tious when pressed on which is his best he even­tu­ally went for Black Arthur.

“I have aimed him specif­i­cally at the July. He’s the horse to beat.

“He’s a huge run­ner off 54.5kg and horses run for Grant van Niek­erk who can ride him con­fi­dently. Of the older horse’s he’s the right horse.”

Snaith has a strong sec­ond string to his bow in former Cape Derby win­ner It’s My Turn.

“He’s nicely in (at the weights). I pur­posely missed the Gold Chal­lenge be­cause we didn’t want any more penal­ties and he needed the Bet­ting Word 1900 badly but is do­ing good work at home. His big­gest as­set is Piere Stry­dom. He’s the right guy for a big race.”

Re­serve run­ners making the field of­ten run way above what is ex­pected of them so South Africa’s most ex­pen­sive year­ling Hori­zon may be a fac­tor but Ten Gun Sa­lute is taken to rise to the oc­ca­sion ahead of Black Arthur, Safe Har­bour and Edict Of Nates.

MUZI YENI pi­lots Ten Gun Sa­lute in the Vo­da­com Dur­ban July.

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