Rainbow Bridge pulled up from the Vodacom Durban July with a slight knee niggle so will be monitored before a decision is made about him defending his Gr1 Champions Cup crown on Gold Cup day, 29 August.
His Eric Sands-trained stablemates Golden Ducat and Driving Miss Daisy are on track for the Champions Cup and the Gr2 Gold Bracelet respectively.
David Thiselton writes that Sands said about Rainbow Bridge, “He seems fine and we will check him but I won’t risk anything.”
Sands said he had been a little disappointed with Rainbow Bridge’s sixth place finish in the July.
He elaborated, “He has always run a little below par in his second run after a layoff but he had that respiratory problem upon arriving at Summerveld so had to miss the Drill Hall.”
Sands then admitted, “I outwitted myself a little bit really…”
He explained he had anticipated the chief Snaith trio of Belgarion, Do It Again and Bunker Hunt coming across from their wide draws and believed he would thus be trapped on the rail. Consequently, he had asked the jockeys to move off the rail in the first 400m.
He continued, “The filly (Silvano’s Pride) was out in front but the real pace was just in front of us. However, that pace fell away too soon. My pair were the only two up there who stayed on the others all fell away and finished close to tailed off. So, it just did not pan out well for us. It was no fault of the jockeys though, there was nothing wrong with their efforts.”
The sectional timing data provided by statistician Jay August showed the Sands pair to have gone through the 1800m mark in the lead in a blistering time of 107.46 seconds, which was 1,57 seconds faster than the previous fastest July to that point on the new narrow track and more than four-and-a-half seconds quicker than the 2018 and 2019 Julys. Golden Ducat and Rainbow Bridge thus did extremely well to stay on for a 1,90 length fourth and 2,75 length sixth respectively.
Rainbow Bridge finished 0,40 lengths behind Do It Again last year when receiving half-a-kilogram and this year was 1,85 lengths behind the latter when giving away half-a-kilogram, which equates to only about a quarter of a kilogram worse performance in comparison to the latter from last year.
Sands, along with many pundits, was particularly impressed by Golden Ducat’s performance.
The big Philanthropist gelding had not handled Hollywoodbets Greyville well in his first two SA Champions Season starts and he had consequently been fitted with a new noseband for the July Gallops. That change brought the best out of him so was retained for the July.
In the big race Golden Ducat raced without cover from the Drill Hall onwards in a handy position behind the strong pace with his half-brother Rainbow Bridge in his slipstream.
After being overtaken by the latter at the 200m mark he amazingly fought back and ran all the way to the line, finishing almost as strongly as the first three who had come from way off the pace.
Golden Ducat’s performance, on paper, had also improved despite the race having not panned out well for him. In his previous start in the Gr1 Daily News 2000 he had finished 1,55 lengths behind the comfortable winner Got The Greenlight and in the July on the same weight terms he had finished just 1,1 lengths behind the latter despite the latter having been flat to the boards.
Sands said, “He is on the up.”
He added that having shown speed over 2200m and staying on well he believed the classic 1800m distance of the Champions Cup would suit him.
Driving Miss Daisy has also been in fine form and will be a big runner in the Gold Bracelet over 2000m. She stayed on well in the Gr1 Woolavington 2000 and looked the winner before Summer Pudding got going to beat her by 0,90 lengths.
Then on July day, wearing first-time blinkers in the Gr1 Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes over 1600m, she ran on strongly from the back of the field for a fine 1,90 length fourth in a star-studded field.