Ten Gun to take the salute
SOME try getting in with a low weight, others are guaranteed so have an easier build-up 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.”
With the field for Saturday’s Gr1 R4.25 million Vodacom Durban July announced last Tuesday and the public gallops also behind us it is down to the serious business of trying to decipher the form.
Each will have their own way of looking at the race but if someone fancies a 66-1 chance, don’t pooh-pooh them, as you could be laughing on the other side of your face come 4.30pm next Saturday.
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 threeyear-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.
Edict Of Nantes
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.”
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.
In over a century only six horses have been successful from that gate, the possibly 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.
Edict Of Nantes and Al Sahem look the pick of the three-year-olds although there are many that feel Tarry’s filly Safe Harbour could put one over them all.
She is a tough filly, having been on the boil for most of the season, but ran on nicely in the Gr1 Woolavington behind the Crawford-trained Lady Of The House and top light-weight rider Nooresh Juglall makes the trip from Singapore to ride.
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.”
There was a lot of opposition to Black Arthur getting into the race at the expense of Daily News third, Horizon, but that has all straightened out with Snaith scratching Elusive Silva with a tendon injury after the gallops on Thursday.
Black Arthur was strongly fancied last year when ridden by Dougie Whyte but he was an up-tight entire at the time. Since then Black Arthur has been gelded and looked a more settled horse at the gallops putting up one of the more eye-catching pieces of work.
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.”
Duncan Howells is KZN’s leading trainer and the only local trainer with runners in the race. He 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.”
Ten Gun Salute
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.”
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.
TEN GUN SALUTE (Kospendule Hlongwe) showed a lot of promise at this week’s gallops at Greyville and is quoted 17-2 fourth favourite. Muzi Yeni will be in the irons for Duncan Howells.