The Daily New has produced several winners of the Durban July in recent seasons and with ten of the thirteen this time around having been nominated for the big one, the race will be viewed with great interest. Thus far this season there doesn’t appear to be much separating the best of our 3yo’s, but this is the stage on which future champions often emerge, writes Steve Furnish.
The runner with the highest merit rating in this level weights contest is Run For It.
Run For It
One of two runners from the stable of Justin Snaith, this son of the 2003 July winner Dynasty improved considerably during the recent Cape season. Indeed, he was finishing best of all when just failing to get to his stable companion Solo Traveller in the Gr1 Cape Guineas and was then only beaten two lengths when taking on the best of our older horses in the J&B Met. After a three month break, he would have needed his first run in Natal and whatever chance he might have held in the KZN Guineas last time out went out of the window when he was badly hampered at the top of the home straight. As well as the big one, he will no doubt have been targeted for this event and now having his third run after the rest should be cherry ripe.
This son of Western Winter had won three in a row going into the Gr2 Selangor Cup and had he not been hampered at a crucial stage in that event, he would surely have given the talented winner What A Winter something to think about. He won the prestigious Gr1 Cape Guineas in his next start and having landed the Natal Guineas over 1600m here in good style last time out, he is clearly at the top of his game. The distance has to be a concern having been beaten in both starts beyond 1600m between the two Guineas wins, but he too has his third run after the rest here and the circuit does clearly suits
Mike Bass’ charge showed real potential from very early on, but it was only after being gelded that he really began to take off. Drawn widest, English Garden raced towards the rear of the fifteen in the Gr1 SA Classic over 1800m at Turffontein in March and running on best of all did very well indeed to get up close home. He again raced in the rear when trying 2450m in the Cape Derby in his only subsequent start and judging by the way he was finishing, he would have again been right there had he not been baulked for a run 500m out. He’s still improving and having done well earlier at this circuit, he has to be a runner.
When both horses were having just there second career outings last June, The Apache was finishing much the stronger when only beaten a neck by English Garden. He went on to win his next two outings with authority and taking into account his very wide draw, was then a fair fifth to Kavanagh in the Gr3 Graham Beck Stakes over 1400m. His two earlier wins were gained over a minimum of 1600m and clearly relishing the extra when put back over that distance in the Gr2 Dingaans, he ran on best of all from another wide draw to surprise most. Gavin Van Zyl’s charge won particularly well in that event and his style of racing would suggest that the extra 400m here will suit. He was off the track for six months after winning that prestigious event and that has to be a concern. He was running on steadily when making his return in the Natal Guineas last time out though and could still improve plenty if now at his peak.
Although not the most consistent of characters, Greg Ennion’s charge has nonetheless shown flashes of real ability. He had Solo Traveller behind him when landing the listed Politician Stakes over 1800m at Kenilworth in January and he again got the better of that one when beaten less than a length over today’s distance in the Cape Derby. His style of racing would suggest that this sharp circuit will suit and nicely drawn in gate one, must hold some kind of a chance if putting his best foot forward.
A fluent winner of his first three career starts, this son of Galileo looked to be a top sort in the making. He does have a tendency to be slow into stride though and that has no doubt been a factor in him failing to find the winner’s enclosure in his four starts since stepping up considerably in class. He does command a very nice turn of foot though and has caught the eye running on stoutly in every outing. He had a number of today’s rivals behind him when only failing by the narrowest of margins to win the Gr1 Cape Derby in January and on that alone, he must be a very serious runner here. He was given a break after that effort, but did then show his well being on his return last month by finishing best of all over a trip short of his best behind his stable companion Bravura. Il Saggiatore is sure to strip fitter here and interestingly, he did win his only previous start at this circuit.
Usually one to race up with, or close to the speed, M’Lords Throat is not far off the best of this generation. He’s as consistent as they come and having already shown his liking for the circuit, and having his third run after a rest here, is sure to be right there when the race begins in earnest. As was the case when running his best race to date in the Cape Derby though, he is usually outpaced in the latter stages and that is likely to be the case again here.
At home on both good and soft ground, the Kahal gelding Black Wing has silently been progressing very nicely and in our book has shown good improvement in all seven starts. He comes into this race on the back of four wins and he is unbeaten in two starts over today’s course and distance. He does now take a considerable jump in class and having had to work very hard to get the better of Esteco by a half length last time out, one would be forgiven for thinking he has little hope here. The remainder were a minimum of 7,7 lengths behind Esteco in that event though, and it is worth noting that Esteco, a winner of four of his six starts, has also been nominated for the July.
Representing the stable of Sean Tarry are both Gold Onyx and Roman Wall.
The Black Minnaloushe gelding Gold Onyx has never been the most consistent of performers, but as he showed when running on stoutly to win the Gr1 Premiers Champion Stakes at Greyville at the end of last season, he is up there with the very best on his day. He’s been steadily coming to hand since returning from a break in November and although he was held by the winner M’Lords Throat in his latest outing, he is clearly coming to hand. He has a nice draw here and with Anton Marcus again in the saddle, he has to be respected.
Lightly raced Roman Wall has also shown flashes of ability, most notably when staying on for fifth from a wide draw in the Gauteng Guineas. He can still improve, but he has finished behind M’Lords Throat in both starts since arriving in Natal and on those efforts does look held.
A King Is Born
The Second Empire gelding A King Is Born won well in his first two starts after returning from a break in February and those successes do include his only previous outing over today’s course and distance. He’s been beaten fair and square in his two latest outings against stronger though, and now considerably up in class looks to be in a bit too deep.
The dark horse of the race is undoubtedly Mike De Kock’s sole entry Empenoso Henn. A winner of both starts, this lightly raced son of Hennessy found strong support (7/2 into 12/10) on debut last August and quickening in very good style late, impressed. He was then not seen out until just eleven days ago, when once again he produced a cracking turn of foot to get up late. His style of racing would suggest that today’s trip will not be a problem and the fact that he is racing here would suggest that he is very well thought of. He could be anything. Watch the betting.
Wealthy And Wise
A winner of two of his three outings since returning from a five month break in March, Duncan Howells’ charge has done very little wrong. His two wins were both gained with authority going away and he was finishing best of all when only beaten a length last time out. He cannot be fancied on form shown as his merit rating of just 79 will attest. He looks sure to relish the extra here though, and he does clearly have plenty of scope for further improvement.
About The Pace
The runners who prefer to race up with the speed here will need to be there if they are going to fight it out, and with that in mind, the pace should be on. The duel Guineas winner Solo Traveller looks sure to be involved in the finish as do both Run For It and Il Saggiatore. Unless they put the lights out on Empenoso Henn though, my vote goes to English Garden