Good Memories of A Great Day

Another wonderful Vodacom Durban July day has come and gone, and this past Saturday’s 116th running of Africa’s Greatest Horserace will be remembered in the years ahead as much for the brilliance of Piere Strydom and the enormous contribution of the deceased champion Jet Master, as it will for the mystery dismal performance of the favourite  Jackson.

We have already paid tribute to the master Strydom in these pages. The man is a genius in the saddle and he proved the top tactician again as he made the 20 draw look like an unfair advantage.Who would have thought that this brilliant jockey was sitting on the right three year old from the worst draw at a generous 20-1?

After the old warrior Buy And Sell had gone so close in 2007, trainer Sean Tarry surely had a sentimental tickle on his long overdue first July winner? He termed his smart colt a ‘wild-card’ after the draw. Hopefully he played his own card.

The winner Pomodoro’s sire Jet Master’s untimely passing earlier this year was a huge body blow to the industry.   What a top-class sire and surely one of the best we will see in our lifetimes?

Everybody has an opinion on the reason for the 18-10 favourite Jackson fizzling away to nothing about 900m from home and finishing 9,50 lengths behind the winner, with only three horses in Gorongosa, Polar Bound and Castlethorpe behind him.

These range from the very philosophical ‘any athlete is entitled to an off day’ to the thought that he may well have peaked too early around his superb Daily News 2000 win,  to the suggestion that the Crawford yard was harbouring a virus of sorts.

The latter theory is supported to a degree by his stablemate Polar Bound’s poor effort, but has since been rejected in sorts by trainer Brett Crawford who has reported that his good-looking charge pulled up sound and was eating up on Sunday.

The writing may have been on the wall at the draw ceremony at Greyville on 21 June when the smashing son of Dynasty drew a barrier position that changed the complexion of the plans and dreams of a relatively youthful combination. The Bookmakers drifted him and panic set in and plans were hatched.

We believe that jockey Karis Teetan did everything expected of him and can shoulder no blame for the poor showing.It is heartening to note that the connections have supported their young jockey to the full

Besides a miserable day for Brett Crawford and Karis Teetan, spare a thought for recently turned 21 year old jockey Grant Van Niekerk in his first July ride. He failed by a nose to win a race that would have  had his ardent hometown supporters in the Cape rocking for months.

And we thought that Tyrone Zackey’s Kahal was the unlucky horse of the race. He was quite wide for much of the way and was then hampered by Jeff Lloyd on Chesalon.

The Stipes saw it differently though, and nailed Van Niekerk with a seven day ban for too much use of the whip. How’s that for a character testing anti-climax? If nothing else, it will make him stronger.

The 53 year old Lloyd was in fact quite lucky to get away scott-free in our book, and besides winning the Gr1 Golden Horseshoe for Corne Spies, the visiting Australian-based rider had a strange day. All of his best three mounts were either hanging in or out. War Horse, Straight Set and Chesalon.

But let’s not look for conspiracy theories.

Full marks to Gold Circle on a first-class day. Saftote turnover on the Vodacom Durban July alone was up 12% on last year to R44,6 million, and this made up 46,81% of the total turnover on the day.

That’s great going in this climate.

There are those that say that the quote of the day belonged to Pomodoro’s winning owner, Chris Van Niekerk, who said afterwards: “I carry on being a fool and will buy more horses.”

That’s a pearler , but then multiple classic winning trainer Dean Kannemeyer, wasn’t too far behind.

Talking to Tellytrack’s  Deez Dynanand after the smart Dupont three year old Depardieu had won the eleventh race, the eThekwini Sprint, Kannemeyer responded to a question about the July by saying: “ We didn’t have a runner this year or last year. That’s the way it goes. But then I don’t just run my horses just for the tickets.”

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