Snaith Bullish About Landing A Fifth July
Justin Snaith has a strong quintet of runners in this year’s Vodacom Durban July and is bullish about his chances of winning the big race for the fifth time.
He said, “My horses are all very well and it is going to take some very good horses to beat them. They are primed and ready and whoever beats us can be proud they have a superstar.”
Do It Again (below) last year became the sixth horse in history to win the July twice and will be the fifth horse to attempt the treble. He has had a below par season but Snaith said the ulcer problem which led to his poor eating habits during the Cape Summer season had been treated and cured. He added that his whole string had not enjoyed a good Cape season, which was another point which gave hope that the big Twice Over gelding would be back to his best on July day. A bonus to his chances is that his underperformances have led to a two point drop in his merit rating, meaning he receives half-a-kilogram from Rainbow Bridge, whom he beat last year by 0,40 lengths when giving away half-a-kilogram.
He also receives half-a-kilogram from the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate winner Vardy. Do It Again was asked to do the most of Snaith’s runners at the July Gallops at Hollywoodbets Greyville on Wedesday and he showed off his both his huge stride and speed, recording the fastest 400m to finish time. He was able to out-sprint Rainbow Bridge to the line last year in a slow run race and also pulverised the field the previous year, also in a slow run race. However, Snaith said actually wanting a slow pace would go against everything they had ever thought of the horse and believed he would prefer a fast pace. This year he would almost certainly want a fast pace with the presence of Vardy as the latter also has plenty of speed and a possible stamina doubt too.
Snaith said Do It Again had needed his run in the Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge, his first race after a holiday at Drakenstein Stud. He was only beaten a length and Snaith elaborated, “You could see he just got tired in the last bit and he won’t be getting tired next Saturday.” Anton Marcus aboard is another tick in Do It Again’s box and a draw of 18 should not be too much of a problem as he is versatile in running style.
The filly Silvano’s Pride (above) will ensure a fast pace according to Snaith. He said, “She only knows one way to race and that is to go flat out, she has no brakes and good luck to anybody who catches her. That is the way she races and we’re not going to change anything. She is very well at home.” Her draw of 15 augurs well as she will have a free passage to get to the front. Silvano’s Pride put in a solid gallop on Wednesday under Sereno Moodley, who becomes the second member of the passionate Indian racing community to ride in the July after Ronald Singh, who rode the Herman Brown-trained Heads to 12th place in 1992.
Belgarion is the joint July favourite with Rainbow Bridge and could well be the best handicapped horse in the race. He is officially half-a-kilogram under sufferance carrying 53kg off a 119 merit rating but his merit rating is capped. The conditions of the WSB 1900, which he won by a comfortable three lengths, state that the winner can be given a maximum of six points. He would have been given more had the handicappers been allowed to.
Belgarion (above) glided effortlessly across the Hollywoodbets Greyville turf on Wednesday and Snaith said, “He is so ready, he couldn’t even blow out a candle after today’s workout. I would be interested to see his 800m to finish time because he did it in literally a canter if you see his recovery. Everything has gone to plan and Richard (Fourie) is super excited, maybe too confident but that’s Richard. Horses don’t win Julys, jockeys win July so I’m very happy I’ve got the right guys on. We’ve meticulously programmed him to carry 53kg. He’s way under-handicapped. He won’t be carrying 53kg in next year’s July and he’s certainly not a horse who should be carrying 53.” Belgarion likes to stride out so draw 17 behind a strong pace should be alright, although he could be at risk of being caught wide.
Bunker Hunt (below) also produced an effortless workout on Wednesday and Snaith said, “I thought it was phenomenal. Swift Surprise (his companion) is a proper galloper and at home is a very good line horse and quite frankly Bunker Hunt looked quite impressive. In my honest opinion Bunker Hunt would have won the Gold Challenge in that slow run race like he did in the Drill Hall but he would have been given full penalties and kicked himself out of a chance here. He carries 55kg and if Belgarion is theoretically the best weighted horse I think Bunker Hunt is second best. He is a huge runner. I think the race being run behind closed doors brings a horse like him into contention because normally on a race day he gets a little bit heated up.” Grant van Niekerk rides from draw 14.
Miyabi Gold does not have the smoothest of actions in front but Snaith was pleased with her gallop on Wednesday and pointed out that she was a horse who never ran a bad race. He added he had not given her much hard work before her last impressive win in the Listed East Coast Handicap, so she should have come on plenty from it. She finished fifth last year and being by Silvano should have improved. She is officially 1,5kg under sufferance so is likely not quite good enough to win but can place again. Keagan de Melo rides and she jumps from the same number four barrier position as last year.
Copy: David Thiselton, Gold Circle