Jack Milner: Justin Snaith won the Vodacom Durban July for the third time at Greyville on Saturday. But this time he did it “properly”.
“The first time I won it we had a dead heat (Dancer’s Daughter), then I won it in the board room (Legislate won on an objection). Now I’ve done it on my own.”
But it did not end there for Snaith as runners from his yard also finished second, third and fifth.
Do It Again (9-1) under Anton Marcus proved the best of his quintet as he flew past leader 8-1 shot Made To Conquer, ridden by Jeff Lloyd, to win the R4.25-million Grade 1 race over 2200m at Greyville by 1.25 lengths.
Elusive Silva (9-1), with Bernard Fayd’Herbe up finished third with 7-2 favourite African Night Sky in fifth. The runner who spoiled a Snaith Quartet by finishing fourth was Majestic Mambo (9-1), trained by Paul Peter and ridden by Callan Murray.
TAB paid six places and the runner who finished in that position was Candice Bass-Robinson-trained Rocket Countdown.
Marcus became the first jockey to ride five winners in this race, his previous victories coming on Dancing Duel (1993), El Picha (2000), Dunford (2005) and Hunting Tower (2007).
In doing so he probably ended any hope of Jeff Lloyd riding a Durban July winner as he is expected to be retiring soon and probably rode at his last race meeting in South Africa.
“Maybe I’ll have to come out of retirement next year so I can have another crack at this race,” quipped Lloyd.
There were a number of hard-luck stories but most of them were the result of the lack of pace. When the field was announced most people felt the race did not have a pacemaker but that view changed as we got closer to the race. But it turned out the first thoughts were correct and the field almost walked the early part of the race.
Chatting to Grant van Niekerk, rider of African Night Sky, prior to the race, he honestly felt he had the best horse in the race but added he could not see any pace. “I’m going to sit closer to the pace today to give my horse a chance,” he said.
In the end that didn’t even help. African Night Sky was pulling hard for much of the journey and Van Niekerk eventually had no option but to take him up to the front. The whole race did not suit him and in the end he did well to finish fifth.
“I saw the favourite was overracing and that pleased me as I thought he would be a tough nut to crack,” said Marcus. “Fortunately I had a trouble-free run in transit but it was only in the last 200m that I felt I had the race won.”
Marcus added that it was a fantastic team effort and to an extent he had been proven wrong. “I made no secret of the fact that I felt Do It Again was not ideally course suited, even though he won the Guineas here.”
Snaith ended up working his horses himself last Wednesday after the grooms put down tools and threatened to strike. “Do It Again was only one of my July runners that I rode myself on Wednesday and I knew he was right.
“When you ride them yourself you get a good feel.”
Fourth place went to Majestic Mambo who had his last race with trainer Paul Peter and will shortly join Mike de Kock. “I will be taking him back to Turffontein and we will have him for two weeks. After that he will go to the quarantine station in Cape Town before being sent overseas to continue his racing in Dubai.
“At least I will have him for two weeks and that will give us time to bond,” joked Peter.
Meanwhile both Mike and Mathew de Kock were very happy with the performance of Majestic Mambo. “For him to be able to finish fourth off that pace was amazing,” said Mathew.