Eric Sands was unaware the Vodacom Durban July final field announcement and draw ceremony was being televised live on Tuesday and was surprised to learn, while driving back home in Cape Town, that his stalwart Rainbow Bridge had drawn in pole position, one lower than his draw of two last year.
He told Gold Circle’s David Thiselton: “It didn’t pan out well for us last year but I would rather be drawn in one than 18. We will be employing different tactics, he has a rider aboard who has a lot of confidence and lastly he will be very well on the day.”
The gaps between Rainbow Bridge’s three SA Champions Season programmed races, the Gr2 IOS Drill Hall Stakes, the Gr1 Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge and the Vodacom Durban July, has been an unusual six weeks and three weeks this season as opposed to a normal five weeks and four weeks. Therefore, Sands left a little bit of condition on him for the Gold Challenge, where he recorded his third win in succession.
He said: “I left a little bit more condition on him than normal in case he ran badly in the Gold Challenge, because I would then have needed something to work with to get him ready for the July. It was not a lot more condition than normal, I would say it was just an extra 4kg or 5kg.”
Rainbow Bridge went handy last year, tracking his stable companion Golden Ducat, and in fact covered the first 2000m of the race in a faster time than the Hollywoodbets Greyville 2000m course record set by London News in the 1996 Daily News 2000, so he went palpably too fast.
Sands took responsibility for the tactical error and said afterwards:“I outwitted myself a little bit really…”
He went on to explain 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.
Luke Ferraris has reverted to the hold up tactics Rainbow Bridge was known for in the early days of his career and this has brought the best out of the star Ideal World gelding. At the age of six he has never been in better form and is the front-runner for the Equus Horse Of The Year Award.
Rainbow Bridge’s pole position July draw might pan out well this year as the known front-runners Shah Akbar and Crown Towers are drawn low in three and five respectively, which means Ferraris can possibly afford to sit still from the off and be in a potentially nice position for free.