In a dramatic running of the 2019 Vodacom Durban July at Hollywoodbets Greyville in Durban on Saturday after favourite Hawwaam was scratched at the start, the magnificent Twice Over gelding Do It Again stamped himself as one of the greatest thoroughbreds to race in this country when he “did it again” or, in tribute to sire, did it “twice over”, and completed a back-to-back victory in the iconic and world-famous R4.25-million, Grade 1 race over 2 200m.

The four-year-old from the Justin Snaith stable showed his class when finishing strongly down the centre of the course in the home straight to beat the Eric Sands-trained Ideal World gelding Rainbow Bridge that had beaten him narrowly in the Sun Met in Cape Town. Do It Again had previously beaten Rainbow Bridge in the Grade 1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and again in the Rising Sun Gold Challenge.

The #VDJ2019 field comes home with Do It Again taking it twice in a row! Image: Candiese Marnewick

Hawwaam, from the stable of Mike de Kock, is considered by an international rating organisation as being among the best horses in the world but has a temperament problem. He played up badly in the stalls and was taken out and scratched by the veterinary surgeon who was complimented by De Kock in a later interview for his action as the Silvano colt was later found to be lame, possibly having bumped himself in or while entering the stalls.

It was a sensational day in every sense for racing as not only was the big race a fantastic spectacle, but the tote went crazy and the Pick 6 bet where it was estimated the pool would reach R16-million, rocketed to an incredible record of R22 316 080, the biggest horseracing betting pool ever achieved in the country. In addition, where the pool for the big race Quartet was expected to reach R16-million, it stormed ahead to surpass the R20-million level.

Hawwaam enters the Vodacom Durban July parade ring as his trainer looks on.
Image: Candiese Marnewick

But there was sadness attached to the race through the scratching of Hawwaam as the three-year-old had shown real champion potential and the country will have to wait now to see whether he is the star he is expected to be when or if he eventually meets Snaith’s superstar. He was truly missing in a finish that could have been even more thrilling had he taken his place.

But take nothing away from the fantastic performances of both Do It Again and Rainbow Bridge. Even third-placed Twist Of Fate ran an incredible race having jumped from 17 draw and with Eyes Wide Open from the Glen Kotzen stable running another great for fourth place, the result was generally punter friendly.

Bernard Kantor, part owner of Do It Again with Nic Jonsson and the late Jack Mitchell, dedicated the victory to their great friend Mitchell saying the result was a mixture of happiness and sadness and offered his condolences to jockey Anton Marcus, Mike de Kock and the connections of Hawwaam after the colt was taken out of the race. Marcus, who won the race on Do It Again last year, had chosen this year to ride Hawwaam.

Jockey Richard Fourie said Do It Again was a remarkable individual describing him as “such a gallant and intelligent” horse.

Earlier, the Sean Tarry stable gave notice that it was in serious form when the Dynasty entire Shenanigans won the “July consolation” race, the Betting World 2200. He fought out the finish with Gimme One Night from the Brett Crawford stable.  

For the Tarry-Hewitson combination it was an excellent day in spite of not featuring in the premier event. They captured the R1-million, Grade 1 Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes with the Captain Al filly Celtic Sea, holding off the favourite Oh Susanna and her stable companion Snowdance and earlier won the Grade 2 Durban Golden Horseshoe for juvenile colts and geldings with odds-on favourite Eden Roc and brilliantly named stable companion Putontheredlight taking second place.

Celtic Sea does it again for breeders Mauritzfontein & Wilgerbosdrift. Image: Candiese Marnewick

In the Grade 2 Zulu Kingdom Explorer Golden Slipper for juvenile fillies, Vaal trainer Tobie Spies upset exotic bet punters when his outsider Querari filly Cockney Pride stormed home ahead of stable companion What You Are. This result knocked millions of tickets out of the massive Pick 6. The stable had earlier won the Gateway Theatre of Shopping Pinnacle Stakes with the Potala Palace gelding, Basilius.

The Grade 3 DStv Gold Vase was won by the four-year-old Biarritz colt Walter Smoothie that was ridden confidently by Diego De Gouveia for Highveld trainer Stuart Pettigrew. The colt was taken to the head of the action from the start with the Snaith-trained Strathdon being rushed over from his 16 draw to slot into second place.

Strathdon took over the lead and set a good gallop down the back straight with Ballad Of The Sea and Major Return in the minor placings but in the home straight it was Walter Smoothie that got the upper hand to take the honours.

Gavin Van Zyl with Diamond Noir and her owner. Image: Candiese Marnewick

One trainer who, while not featuring in the feature events on the day was extremely happy was Gavin van Zyl who welcomed his five-year-old Seventh Rock mare Diamond Noir into the winner’s enclosure after she had won the first race on the card. The mare had fractured her pelvis earlier in her career and been nursed back to health and now won a race, her last before being retired, on the biggest day in South African racing.

“I went to the back before the race and just told her, my girl this is the last time you will have to do this.”

– Journalist: Richard McMillan

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