The R1 million Gr1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge is the final Vodacom Durban July golden ticket access point in 2018.
The mile contest looks likely to again provide plenty of interest with the Justin Snaith team sending out star 3yo filly Snowdance, still smarting after her recent Daisy Guineas defeat.
Snowdance , whose full sister makes her debut in the Kenilworth Fillies Nursery on the same afternoon, won the Cape Fillies Guineas and the Majorca Stakes before being upstaged in the Daisy Fillies Guineas at Greyville by Fiorella – who ran such a cracker when taking star stablemate Oh Susanna all the way to the wire in last Saturday’s Gr1 Woolavington 2000.
Bernard Fayd’herbe made a lot of use of the free- striding Snowdance on her return from a three months break and she will no doubt be primed to fire on Saturday. The high-riding Grant van Niekerk takes the ride from a nice draw.
There are only two Vodacom Durban July candidates left after the withdrawal of Liege.
Drakenstein stallion-in- waiting Gold Standard and the KZN 3yo Roy Had Enough are the two big race hopefuls, but may have to go some to gain the automatic entry for the 7 July extravaganza that a victory in this race guarantees.
Last year’s outstanding winner Captain America has not visited the winner’s box since, but his form in the top league is very decent. He won in 2017 off a great prep in the Drill Hall Stakes and that may be the only chink in his armour as he comes in off a 19 week break post a fifth in the Sun Met in a bid for the double. Lethal at a mile and admirably suited to this track, the gallant 7yo cannot be disregarded.
His stablemate Sail South ran fourth (3,15 lengths) in the Drill Hall behind Perovskia. That was his first run since being well beaten in the Met. The son of Sail From Seattle has not won since winning the Gr1 Champions Cup in receipt of 2kgs when beating Captain America.
The rather enigmatic Copper Force has not repeated his Herculean effort behind Legal Eagle in the 2018 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and probably needed the outing when beaten into last (5,75 lengths) in the Drill Hall Stakes.
Glen Kotzen’s Gold Standard is scheduled to retire to the beautiful green paddocks of Drakenstein Stud where it is hoped that he will be a future successor to his top-class sire, Trippi.
Gold Standard comes in off a 19 week break following his 5,55 length finish to Oh Susanna in the Sun Met. The 4yo has never reached the brilliant heights of his 3yo career but is loaded with class and ability and is a dangerous horse to discount – even at half best.
Once one of our highest rated sprinters, the slow starting Trip To Heaven ran second behind Captain America in this race last year when making a rare appearance over the mile. The son of Trippi may have lost some of his zest as shown by his recent starts when lacking his characteristic explosive burst.
Third of the Brett Crawford runners, and certainly the fittest of the trio, is the 3yo Byerley Turk winner Undercover Agent, who has flourished in KZN. He looked in charge when only run out of it late by Perovskia in the Drill Hall Stakes and from a favourable draw his connections may fancy their prospects of a first Gr1 for the son of Captain AL.
July candidate Roy Had Enough was slow out and never showed in Saturday’s Gr1 Daily News 2000 when beaten over 6 lengths by emerging star, Surcharge. A course and distance specialist, Roy Had Enough impressed when travelling to Gauteng and beaten into fifth (4,10 lengths) by Lobo’s Legend in the SA Classic. Two Gr1’s in seven days is probably not ideal for a 3yo but he won’t lack for fitness.
Snowdance faces the boys for the first time. She is top-class and was only beaten by an overconfident ride and match fitness last time. She must go close but Captain America is lethal over the mile and he won’t go down without a scrap. Fourie and Kotzen are red hot too- Gold Standard could be the lurker, with Undercover Agent completing the quartet.