Gold pot for Rainbow Bridge

Gold pot for Rainbow Bridge


Jack Milner: There is no doubt any horse who can win six out of seven races, among them three Grade 1s, a Grade 2 and a Grade 3, is something special so Hawwaam deserves his place at the top of the bookmakers’ boards for tomorrow’s R4.25-million race over 2200m at Greyville.

Regrettably, one tends to hear more about his eccentricities than his aptitude and that is what makes the price a little scary.

If one was discussing him in terms of a balance sheet one would have his vast talent, his will to win and the fact he has Anton Marcus up, as his chief assets.

Unfortunately, the liabilities might outweigh them. Trainer Mike de Kock has expressed his concern about the course, size of the field, whether he will break on terms, whether he will pull early on and his draw.

Most trainer would be delighted for their horses to jump from No 3 draw but the fear that Hawwaam might not jump is a real concern, and with the outside horses moving across, he could be cut off.

In six months, as he matures, we are certain to see a horse who could well dominate South African racing but right now, rushing off to grab 2-1 could prove costly.

So where does the value lie? One could find a horse at 25-1 and upwards but as many people have pointed out, De Kock, Marcus, Lyle Hewitson and many others, this is one of the strongest Durban July fields put together in years. “Other than Soqrat, all of your best horses are running,” said De Kock.

While luck on running will play a huge part, based on form it is hard to look beyond Hawwaam, Do It Again, Rainbow Bridge and Barahin for the winner although, with luck on their side, runners like Eyes Wide Open, Twist Of Fate, Head Honcho and Legal Eagle could pull off an upset.

However, at his current price of 6-1 with Betting World, Rainbow Bridge could provide the best value. The older half-brother to Hawwaam has done little wrong – 10 runs, six wins and four places. He won the Sun Met, beating Do It Again by 0.75 lengths and his two warm-up runs in Durban have been excellent.

Pundits might point out that he was beaten by Do It Again in the Rising Sun Gold Challenge but one can also argue that prior to the Met, Eric Sands’ charge was beaten into fourth place by Do It Again in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate but turned it around.

“Everything has gone well since the Gold Challenge and I couldn’t have asked for a better prep. Indeed, all the boxes are now ticked,” Sands told Gold Circle.

“His gallop last Thursday was good and, although the time didn’t matter to me, it was quite fast for a horse that was not being chased along. I don’t know much about the companion – he was loaned to me – but Rainbow Bridge did exactly what we wanted which was to have it easy from the mile and then to quicken at the top of the straight.

“Gavin said he gave him a kick and the horse was gone – just galloped through his hands.”

Gavin Lerena is looking for his biggest win locally and Rainbow Bridge could just provide him with that pot of gold.
Pundits will also point out that Marcus has jumped off Rainbow Bridge to ride Hawwaam but gut feel is that he did that with a view to the future, rather than to the July itself.

Last year’s winner, Do It Again, will be looking to become only the fifth horse since 1897 to win this race back-to-back. He has the talent and is a class horse so it will not come as surprise if he does.

Of the lower-weighted runners Eyes Wide Open is a well handicapped to beat many of the runners he defeated in the warm-up runs. He is drawn No 18 but in recent years that has not been too much of an impediment. He is a must for the carryover Quartet.

Barahin is well weighted but the concern is that he and Muzi Yeni will have to weave his way through 17 other runners as he makes his way from the back of the field.

Then we have Legal Eagle – nicely drawn at No 7, carries just 55kg and there is no doubt about his class. Jockey Lyle Hewitson described his mount’s weight as “awesome” and the draw as a “great place to be to stay out of the bun fight”.

Asked about Legal Eagle’s work, Hewitson replied: “I do feel he still has that zest to run. There’s nothing in his work to suggest he is fed up with racing. He is spot on.”

Asked about his last disappointing run in a slow-run 1400m, he replied. “Despite that, his time for 400m to finish was the same as when he won over 1160m at Turffontein in November.”

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