All eyes will be on Belgarion
RECORD-seeking trainer Justin Snaith scratched L'Ormarin's Queen's Plate winner Jet Dark from the Vodacom Durban July yesterday and other significant scratchings were the reigning Equus Horse Of The Year Summer Pudding and the promising Johan Janse van Vuuren-trained Puerto Manzano. Meanwhile, Snaith said he would be doing everything he could to preserve Do It Again's current merit rating in the build up to the Vodacom Durban July, so the six-yearold is thus avoiding the World Sports Betting 1900 at Hollywoodbets Greyville on Saturday, the race where reigning July champion Belgarion will be making his first SA Champions Season appearance.
Snaith said last week Jet Dark's 130 merit rating was the chief off-putting factor for the July and he duly decided over the weekend to scratch.
Jet Dark is the highest rated three-year-old in the country at present and as things stand would have had to carry 56kg in the July and give the like of
Linebacker (124) Kommetdieding (120) apiece.
Snaith said it would not be in the horse's interests to carry that high a weight in the tough Grade 1 handicap but did not hide his opinion of the Trippi colt by saying, "He is too good to run in the July." Snaith believes the 2021/2022 Cape Summer Season is going to be one of the best ever as he predicts the Covid-19 vaccine roll outs worldwide will enable travel once again. He thus plans to race all of his main contenders for that season not more than twice in the SA Champions Season."
Jet Dark put up an outstanding recent racecourse gallop at Hollywoodbets Greyville which put him on track for his chief SA Champions Season mission, the Grade 1 weight for age Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge on June 12. and 3kg
Snaith believes Do It Again, who will make a second attempt to become the first horse to win the July three times, will likely run this Saturday. However, it will be in a Pinnacle Stakes event over 1600m where he will be the best weighted runner and will thus be unlikely to incur any merit rating raise even if he wins.
Snaith told Racing News Social TV over the weekend he had not been bullish last year when Do It Again had to carry 59.5kg and give the like of Belgarion and Got The Greenlight 6.5kg apiece. However, he said he was "quietly bullish" at present with him carrying 57.5kg as things stand. He described Do It Again as the "purest athlete" among the country's thoroughbreds, one who "glides" down to the start and added that if he brought his best form then "Rainbow Bridge and everybody else is in trouble." He continued, "We just have to get him 100% right inside, which I think we have done." Snaith said the six-year-old had had niggles but added the "beautiful grass paddocks" he had built around his Summerveld yard, where he was able to relax and graze, were "very important for his ulcers."
Snaith concluded, "He is doing really, really well, I think he is a massive runner." Belgarion is also in fine shape at present but Snaith said he would only be at about 80% for the WSB 1900. He said it would be a springboard into the July. He said a lot of his horses were still behind "the 8ball" but that was exactly where he wanted them to be. He concluded, "You see a lot of horses walking around at the moment like superstars but our aim is to have them looking like superstars on the day of the July."