It’s hard to make it rhyme to the tune of “Its all about the base” but “It’s all about the Durban July” pretty much everywhere in South African racing at the moment, with very little else even open to discussion on track or in bars up and down the Country. In a few days time the final field will be decided with eighteen of the thirty entries allowed to take their place but it’s all a bit different to how we do things in the UK. A four-person panel will look at those entered and presumably using a combination of form, connections, weights, likely improvement, and early betting patterns will make their decision that basically makes or breaks the chances and sees twelve left without a run. Now I have been following the race for a few years now (OK, I don’t just follow it, I love it!), and it has always seemed to be done fairly to me with precious little argument other than the mumblings of those placed as first and second reserve who obviously feel themselves hard done by and will spend the day wondering about what could have been. Once the final field is assembled the hard work begins of trying to find the winner, but that is all part and parcel of the party, and I am delighted to say that I will be there again in 2017 as a guest of Gold Circle for the race that is the highlight of my entire year.
Contrary to popular belief, my bank account is not overflowing so I need to find us all some more winners in the next two weeks to line the pockets ahead of an attack on the Durban July card, and common sense suggests we starts at Scottsville on Sunday. It may not be my normal way, but I’m going to increase my bet size slightly and limit the number of bets to just the two this week, mainly because I can only find the two horses worthy of a mention and I am not the sort of journalist to add horses in for the fun of it if I cannot make a solid case (right or wrong).
One thing I have noticed is that just like the rest of the racing World, when money talks it can make good sense to listen, and there has been plenty of early money for Antony Hotspur ahead of his racecourse debut in the 11:55am local time, a 1200mtrs maiden. A son of Antonius Pius, he doesn’t exactly leap off the page as a sure-fire winner but he has been backed since the early prices came out, and a small one point bet may well reap dividends.
For my only other bet, Ancestry was a tempter but even I can’t tip at odds of 1/6, and I will have to wait for the Track And Ball Derby at 16:00 local time (or race eight). A Grade Three over 2400mtrs this looks more than likely to fall the way of Dean Kannemeyer’s Mr Winsome, a four-year-old son of top sire Silvano. Five wins from seventeen starts is a very healthy return by anybody’s standards and have earned connections over half a million rand in prize money, and after a five-length course and distance win two races ago he has to be top of the short list. He found the trip too short in the Betting World 1900 last time out when a two length fourth but that was a Grade Two, and dropped in class today he has to have every chance back over his favourite trip and can land us a Dean Kannemyer double.
Antony Hotspur 11:55am local time Scottville Sunday
Mr Winsome 16:00pm local time Scottsville Sunday