Viv Greybe and Mike Moon: Ten runners in a 13-horse field are scrapping for a place in the final line-up for the Vodacom Durban July, so it is little wonder the World Sports Betting 1900 at Greyville on Saturday is such a wide-open affair for punters.
Betting for the Grade 2 race reflects just how competitive it is, with favourite Pack Leader at 4-1 and 10 horses quoted at shorter than 20-1.
Justin Snaith will saddle four of the 13 and the Cape Town trainer is cautious in assessing the chances of his charges in the R500,000 contest.
Both Elusive Silva and Platinum Prince are at 10-1 in the early betting but would seem to have better chances than that price might indicate.
The former was a 2-1 shot for this race last year and finished a disappointing fifth. Asked to comment on Elusive Silva this time around, Snaith said he was doing very well at home. “If he overcomes the draw he should be in the first four.”
The No 13 barrier position isn’t ideal, but jockey Bernard Fayd’herbe will not have an insurmountable task over 1900m.
The normally ebullient Snaith was also a little wary about overstating the chances of Platinum Prince: “He is a dark horse for the Durban July. If he is to qualify, this is the race for him to prove himself.”
Platinum Prince, under Grant van Niekerk, will start only one stall in from his stablemate, and is also having his second run after a rest.
After a most promising three-year-old campaign, Platinum Prince has been sparingly raced and now looks ready to fulfill his early promise. A dark horse indeed and one whose performance on Saturday should be watched with keen interest.
Snaith’s other two runners, Strathdon (28-1) and Captain Splendid (35-1) are at the bottom of the betting boards.
“Captain Splendid will need this outing and is looking for further,” said Snaith.
“Strathdon is very difficult to assess. He hasn’t run for a long time. We are hoping for a positive run but he will possibly need the outing. We are hoping he could surprise but, as I said, more than likely he will need the run.”
Ollivander (25-1) is not well in at the weights, according to his trainer Candice Bass-Robinson. “It’s a tough ask for him,” she commented.
“He is a one-time winner and with a merit rating like that we are taking our chances. He enjoys the trip, and maybe a little bit further, but I think it’s a tough call for him.”
Andre Nel was a bit more upbeat about his 18-1 candidate Kampala Campari: “Our horse is in good form but he has only recently travelled up from Cape Town. It is a big step up in class so we are hoping for the best.”
By contrast, Glen Kotzen said of his charge Pack Leader: “He’s definitely working like a winner.”
Kotzen told Racing Express earlier this week that he had been shocked when Pack Leader finished within a head of the winner in his seasonal pipe-opener recently as the horse was only 60% fit in his opinion.
“He has come on a helluva lot since then,” said Kotzen.
ELUSIVE SILVA – Doing very well at home. If he overcomes the draw he should be in the first four.
PLATINUM PRINCE – He is a dark horse for the Durban July. If he is to qualify, this is the race from him to prove himself.
KAMPALA CAMPARI – Our horse is in good form but he has only recently travelled up from Cape Town, and it is a big step up in class so we are hoping for the best.
CANDICE BASS ROBINSON:
OLLIVANDER – He is not well in at the weights and basically, it’s a tough ask for him. He is a one-time winner with a merit-rating like that and we are taking our chances. He enjoys the trip, and maybe a little bit further, but I think it’s a tough call for him.