Only two horses have won the Gold Challenge and the Durban July in the same season in the past quarter century and they were both trained by Justin Snaith.
With five live Hollywoodbets Durban July entrants in Saturday’s renewal of the R1 750 000 Hollywoodbets Gr1 Gold Challenge, we could see the history books being amended.
Justin Snaith trained both 2008 Vodacom Durban July dead-heater Dancer’s Daughter and 2019 Durban July dual-winning star Do It Again to achieve the rare double and now rising 9, the latter is back on Saturday to defend his pre-covid title.
The son of Twice Over will be ridden by rampant Winning Form-sponsored rider Richard Fourie, who is in search of a sixth Gr1 winner this season, and in the form of his professional life.
While a longshot taking on the younger guns, Do It Again has earned at all of his 14 Hollywoodbets Greyville starts and is deadly at the city track.
There won’t be a dry eye in the house were he to win on Saturday and give Justin Snaith his fourth Gold Challenge title – Legislate (2015) having punctuated Dancer’s Daughter and Do It Again – and then go on to become the first horse in history to win three Julys.
The sponsors are currently offering odds of 280-1 for the double.
The Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge is the final ‘golden ticket’ race for the Hollywoodbets Durban July and beyond Do It Again, we will see Cousin Casey, Rascallion, Safe Passage and Zapatillas wounding up their big race preps.
Cousin Casey gets a new jockey in Bling Khumalo as this race was not in the original plan and regular pilot Grant van Niekerk accepted to ride defending champion Al Muthana, who has moved from Mike de Kock to Ricky Maingard in the year.
Cousin Casey gets the blinkers on Saturday and Glen Kotzen will be keen to repeat the much loved but sadly ill-fated Big City Life’s victory in 2010.
Vaughan Marshall’s Rascallion is seen as something of a July dark horse by many, and the veteran trainer concedes that he would far rather have taken his chances in the 1800m Hollywoodbets Dolphins Gr3 Cup Trial which is run over 1800m on the same afternoon.
But Rascallion’s 122 rating closed that door so he is forced to drop in trip – not ideal, but probably not a train smash either.
Cousin Casey has yet to get the better of Charles Dickens, but will have the benefit of No 1 draw and S’manga Khumalo in the irons this time.
Mike de Kock is a little at 6’s and 7’s with Safe Passage, who ran a dismal race in the Drill Hall Stakes but improved when third at Turffontein next time out. De Kock never laughs off a Gr1 trophy but he realises that a forward showing on Saturday could cost the son of Silvano some pudding come 1 July.
James Crawford has done superbly well training his Dad’s satellite string on the Highveld and will be looking for some silverware with the lightly raced Zapatillas who has his first start 15 weeks since chasing Pacaya and Quasiforsure home in that contentious finish to the Gordon’s Gin Jet Master Stakes on SpashOut Cape Derby day.
The Crawford yard won the Gold Challenge in 2017 with Captain America and Undercover Agent in 2018.
So will a Hollywoodbets Durban July candidate seal his big race berth?
Or Al Muthana do the double?
Or Charles Dickens register his first win in open company?
Or will his stablemate Trip Of Fortune make a fool of everybody?
It should be a fascinating race.
Watch the big race at 15h08. There is no Pick 6 carryover unfortunately.