It’s all about one race in South Africa this weekend, the 122nd renewal of the Gr.1 Vodacom Durban July at Greyville. First run in 1897 and considered the jewel of South African racing, the 2200m race never ceases to grab the imagination and boasts an Honour Roll featuring the revered names of titans such as Sea Cottage, Mazarin, Politician, Flaming Rock andLondon News, while those of a more recent vintage include the likes of Dynasty, Ipi Tombe,Pocket Power and Igugu.
Three-year-old Silvano colt Hawwaam is the current favourite and will bid to join Bold Silvano, Heavy Metal, Power King and Marinaresco as the fifth July winner for his champion sire, who made history in 2015 when the Maine Chance-bred trio of Power King, Punta Arenas and Tellina provided him with an epic July trifecta.
Trained by Mike de Kock for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum, Hawwaam enters the race off a Gr.1 hat-trick in the SA Classic, Premier’s Champions Challenge and Daily News 2000 and on that form, he could well be up to the task in what may be his final appearance in this country.
De Kock has a more than able back-up in Barahin (Gimmethegreenlight) who could be the joker in the pack. Fresh off a stunning win from way back in the Gr.3 Jubilee Handicap at Turffontein, the three-year-old, who is also owned by Sheikh Hamdan, returns to the track where he landed the Gr.2 Golden Horseshoe on July day a year ago. De Kock maintains we haven’t seen the best of this one yet and he rates a serious contender for top honours.
Defending champion Do It Again (Twice Over) showed he is on track with a fine win in the Gr.1 Gold Challenge after a four-month rest. Although history suggests this is no easy task – the last to score back-to-back July wins was El Picha in 2000 – Justin Snaith’s four-year-old could well live up to his name.
Former Lammerskraal owner Mike Rattray has never made a secret of his long-standing ambition to win the July, hence his purchase of Met winner Rainbow Bridge (Ideal World) from the estate of the late Chris Gerber. The octogenarian’s famous red and white silks have been carried to two seconds and a third in years gone by and as he admitted: “I have always wanted to have another crack at the race but I’m getting a bit old now. I am 86.”
Rainbow Bridge has had two prep runs in the Rattray silks, a narrow defeat in the Gr.2 Drill Hall Stakes and an unlucky third in the Gr.1 Gold Challenge. With a hungry Gavin Lerena aboard, the four-year-old will be looking to give his owner an overdue and much-deserved first July victory.
Reigning Horse of the Year Oh Susanna (Street Cry) sets a rare standard as she heads to post for the other Gr.1 contest on the day, the Garden Province Stakes for fillies and mares. The Drakenstein homebred made all to win the 1400m Gr.2 Tibouchina Stakes at the track last time out, a crack run over a distance far short of her best. On class alone, the sparingly-raced four-year-old towers over the opposition and looks set to remain unbeaten at this venue.
GR.3 WINTER DERBY
Racing beyond 2000m for the first time, Dharma clearly benefitted from a step up in distance to win the Gr.3 Winter Derby at Kenilworth in the manner of a true staying type.
Nexus (Dynasty) took it up the top of the straight, but he had no answer to the flying Dharma, who wore him down for a half-length first Stakes success.
It was somewhat of an family affair, as the gelding is a homebred for Terry and Annabel Andrews of Sorrento Stud and was ridden to victory by son Anthony.
He was sired by former Sorrento resident Royal Air Force, a Gr.2 winning son of the mighty Jet Master, who also featured as the broodmare sire of runner-up Nexus. Coincidentally, Geoff Woodruff trained both Royal Air Force and Jet Master, while Dharma is trained by daughter Lucinda at his Milnerton satellite yard.
Sold for R130,000 at the Val De Vie Yearling Sale, the winner is a half-brother to Listed Olympic Duel second Samsara (Rock Of Rochelle) and is out of Karma (Dr Fong), an unraced daughter of imported Kundalini (El Gran Senor). South Africa’s champion 3YO filly in 1993 and winner of both the Gr.1 Bloodline Classic and Gr.2 Dingaans, she was sold to the UK for broodmare duties and while she never replicated herself as a broodmare, her daughters have kept the family fortunes ticking over. Vivianna (Indian Ridge) produced Diamond Diva (Dansili), winner of the Gr.2 Cashcall Mile International Stakes and twice placed in the Gr.1 Gamely Stakes, while Rainbow Quest daughter Vijanti bred Gr.3 East Cape Derby hero Vengence (Black Sam Bellamy). Kundalini is an own sister to Gr.3 Prix Minerve victress Lime Gardens and a half-sister to the American Stakes winner Pixie Spirit (Sadler’s Wells). The next dam Hatton Gardens (Auction Ring) landed the Listed Carna Fillies Stakes and is a half-sister to the champion racemare and Irish 1000 Guineas winner Kooyonga (Persian Bold).
Impressive debut winner Silver Operator’s bid to give trainer Vaughan Marshall a third successive victory in the Gr.3 Langerman (1500m) at Kenilworth was thwarted by the lesser fancied Candice Bass-Robinson runner Snow Report.
The pair turned for home alongside one another, with the latter taking the shortest route home and under a hard ride, he just held off the inexperienced favourite by a head.
The winner is one of seven Stakes winners sired by Drakenstein-based What A Winter, who was trained by Candice’s father Mike Bass to score four Gr.1 victories and was named the country’s champion sprinter of 2012.
His juvenile son, a R400,000 yearling purchase, was bred by the Limestone Thoroughbred Trust and is the fifth winner from as many runners out of Snug As A Bug (Qui Danzig). Grandam Wet Winter is a half-sister to the dual Stakes winner Lemon And Lime (Dancing Champ) and the multiple Stakes-placed Madam Butterfly (Al Mufti). Interestingly, Snow Report is inbred 2×3 to former Lammerskraal champion stallion Western Winter, the sire of both What A Winter and Wet Winter.
SILVANO ASSURED OF FOURTH SIRES TITLE
With barely four weeks to go before the end of the current racing season, Maine Chance Farm’s three-time South African champion sire Silvano has wrapped up his third straight Sires’ title and fourth overall. The country’s dominant stallion for the past three season, he took the title for the first time in 2013.
According to latest statistics, the son of Lomitas enjoys an unassailable lead of almost R5-million over second-placed Captain Al. Meanwhile, the latter is currently engaged in an enthralling battle for the juvenile sires title with Gimmethegreenlight.
The most expensive commodity at yesterday’s first session of the KZN Yearling Sale proved to be a son of Gimmethegreenlight, which was snapped up for R550,000 by Nic Jonsson, the owner of last year’s Durban July winner Do It Again.
Consigned by Nadeson Park Stud, the September-foaled bay is the second foal of Fort Wood mare Bluebell Glade, a winning daughter of champion Bold Ellinore (Kahal) and a half-sister to Gardenia Handicap victress Ha Lucy (Trippi).
Lammerskraal Stud’s Visionaire dominated last weekend’s KZN Breeders Day meeting with four individual winners and he was responsible for the next best lots. Klipdrif Stud’s colt out of Listed Summer Juveniles Stakes victress Agra (Trippi) was knocked down to Lynton Ryan for R460,000, whilst local trainer Dennis Drier snared the Lammerskraal offering Nostradamus for R420,000. A chestnut like his imposing sire, the colt is the first foal of Gr.3-placed Jet Master mare Berlinetta.
The sale concluded yesterday with a Danika bred son of Silvano sold to Suzette Viljoen for R650 000.