Well, the Vodacom Durban July is over for another year but sadly this one did not work out well for me. I rode Abashiri who unfortunately went wrong in the home straight and I had to pull him out of the race.
So many people have asked me how Abashiri is doing. He is not fit and well, but will get a nice home.
The race itself started off as normal. It is quite hectic for the first 400m because in a field that size everybody is looking to be in a position on the rail. When Abashiri jumped well I was hopeful but after 50m I realised that despite all my urgings, I could not keep my position. Despite all my persevering and screaming at other jockeys to move, it was all to no avail.
Then the pace slowed down after 300m, which is disappointing because you’re riding the best horses in the country and you can’t get a decent pace. The pace remained sedate until Grant van Niekerk decided to make a move on African Night Sky about 1200m from home.
To be honest I find racing quite weird. In my view Grant took the right decision as did S’manga Khumalo on Matador Man but they both got slated. Anton Marcus followed suit and just because his horse won the race – on the shirttails of their move, I might add – got all the accolades for riding a good race.
Proves how fickle people can be as they only want to see things from their own perspectives.
Hopefully in the future a jockey could make the right move and if he gets criticised sectional timing, as long as it is implemented properly, will reveal whether he made the right move or not.
One also has to compliment Snaith Racing to have a first, second, third and fifth in the country’s biggest race. It’s a great feat.
Next year is another July and hopefully I will get a chance to equal Anton’s record of five wins in the race.
Today we race on the Turffontein Standside track. The going is fast and dry and I don’t see any bias up the straight.
Race 1 is a Maiden Plate for fillies and mares and it looks a tricky affair. The two horses who have run just once and have the best form are Sun Up and Soul Of Wit. Whoever makes the most improvement, should win. I ride Operetta who, after disappointing on debut, ran an improved second race.
There are also many first-timers so keep an eye on any betting moves.
Race 2 is a handicap which looks a two-horse race between Top Shot and Arctica. Banker either for the BiPot.
Race 3 is a Maiden Plate over 1400m where the draw is a huge factor. My first choice is Alyaasaat who made a good debut after being squeezed out at the start. As he is still a two-year-old include Liberado in the Place Accumulator.
There are some unraced horses and I picked up the ride on Stalking. Unfortunately this is around the turn and he has a wide draw but I know nothing about the horse.
Race 4 is another Maiden Plate and most of these horses have had a number of runs to show their ability. On current form though, Smart Deal looks way above this field and therefore a definite banker in the PA. In fact, his form is so much better than the rest of his rivals he should also be a Pick 6 banker. If you go against him then you will need the field.
Race 5 is a handicap for fillies and mares over the marathon trip of 2850m with four horses on a par – Arte, Subtle Force, Dalley and Seeking Gold.
I can’t see any of the others having a winning chance so for the Pick 6 include all of those mentioned and for the PA pick two of your fancies from those four.
Race 6 is a handicap but this looks a lot more competitive. My first two selections are the two horses I tried to get the rides on but couldn’t and they are No More Words and Spring Breeze.
Others with chances are Lunar Dancer, Peppermint Tea and Moss Gas. Pick three of those for the PA but for the Pick 6 you might need to add Esploratore and my mount, Kick Butt, who surprised last time by running second after needing a number of opportunities to win a race.
Race 7 is another handicap and once again the form looks very close. My selections are Brigtnumberten, Sporting Monarch, Twelve Oaks, and my ride, African Ruler.
Pick Brigtnumberten with one of the others mentioned for the PA and for the Pick 6 put all of those in plus whatever else you may like.
Race 8 is another handicap with the main contenders being Tripod, Tour Of Duty and Dragoon. Any two should get you through the PA but for the Pick 6 consider He’s Great, Rebel Renegade and Singaswewin.
Race 9 is a Graduation Plate which should favour your best handicapped runners who should come out on top. In this case that is Winter’s Forge but as she is not sure to stay the distance and taking her wide draw into consideration, that will make Full Mast hard to beat as he is the next best handicapped horse in the race. He has a good draw to help his chances and I make him a banker in all bets.
I ride Christofle who is badly handicapped but I hope he has a good enough run so I can ride him next time in a handicap where he should be more competitive.
Race 10 is a yet another competitive handicap and over this 1400m you need to lean towards the runners with the best draws. As a result, these are my selections – Sovereign Reign, Front Rank, Time To Be Great and Chapel Jive – in that order.
I ride Blazing Winter whose form has not been that strong of late and has a bad draw to overcome. But in his favour is that he’s taking a drop in class so he will be racing against weaker opposition.