IF Jackson doesn’t win any of the others can – that’s champion trainer Mike de Kock’s take on the R3-million Vodacom Durban July at Greyville this Saturday, writes ROBERT GARNER.
“On ability Jackson is head and shoulders above everything, especially because the race condition setting 57kg as the maximum for a three-year-old has made his task easier,” said De Kock. “It’s time that condition rule was scrapped and the race opened up. If you feel a horse has the wrong weight, you can always scratch.”
If Jackson fails to deliver De Kock reckons it’s anybody’s guess who will win. “If you take him out the picture, you can make a case for any of the others,” he said.
“What is against Jackson and my filly Ilha Bela is the draw, especially because the false rail will be set 13m out for the first six races and then cut back to 6m for the rest of the meeting. Horses with inside draws will race on fresh ground in the July, which effectively gives them a double advantage over the horses drawn badly.
“Ideally the July field should be limited to 16 runners which would reduce the impact of the draw. But it’s not and potentially this is a tough July in which to predict the winner because the two best horses are drawn badly,” he said.
De Kock, who is going for his third successive July victory after wins with Bold Silvano and Igugu, is delighted with Ilha Bela’s condition.
“She’s had an unbelievable preparation and I couldn’t be happier. She wasn’t 100% in the Woolavington and it wasn’t her fault that the riders of the horses nearest to the pace allowed Viva Maria to get too far ahead in that race. But obviously she is going to need luck from No 18 draw.”
De Kock has three other runners and gives all of them chances, especially Irish-bred mare Gorongosa, who goes for her sixth straight win.
“The July distance is too short for her and the Gold Cup is her main mission. But that said she knows how to win and has a culture of winning. Horses like that are always dangerous even when they are rising in class because they know how to win and want to win,” he said.
“Vettel has a good draw and stays well. But 2200m is not his best distance and I doubt if the weight turnaround with Jackson will be enough for him to reverse the Daily News 2000 form. Jackson won well that day.
“Solo Traveller must be a factor on his run in the Greyville 1900. He wasn’t himself in his last run, which has to be ignored.”
* Gold Circle Director of Racing Graeme Hawkins confirmed yesterday that the false rail would be reduced from 13m to 6m halfway through Saturday’s meeting. “It’s what we always do at the July meeting in order to spread the load on the track on a 12-race programme,” he said.
Greyville is the tightest track in South Africa(the short bend before the home straight is more than 110 degrees), it also has the shortest home straight in the country(450m). It has been identified that you need a good turn of foot to win at Greyville and horses that possess this asset, can win at Greyville, but this past Sunday(2 July 2012), proved that with a narrow false rail if you are not close to the pace from the start, you have a dogs chance of winning( by the time the horses with the turn of foot attempts to loop the field on the tight bend they just end up chasing shadows, because with the narrow false rail coupled with the short straight , the winning post comes up very quickly for the handily raced horses. If one has to look at the videos of the last two runnings of the July, the winners(Bold Silvano and Igugu) where In the first five positions for most of the race. What this proves is, that if you are not handy you can’t win. Everyone races to win, not to pick up stake cheque for tenth place. We as the racing public would like to see a horse race with the best of the best, going at it and may it be competive enough for even a horse coming from 10 lengths off the pace at the 400m mark to be able to win as Flaming Rock did(more recently Pocket Power/Dancers Daughter, Grey’s Inn, Ipi Tombi, Huning Tower). Even horses with good draws are at a disadvantage, because if they get boxed in on the rail on the bend, and by the time they get an opening to produce their run, it’s too late to even get a place. Personally I think it is unfair, firstly to the sponsors Vodacom, who fork out the R3million in stake money to ensure the 20 best thoroughbreds do battle for the first prize. Second to the owners who fork the high entry fees and third to the racing public and 60000 fans on track who bets on a horse to and if they are not in the first half of the field going into the last 800m they can discard their ticket. And to Mr. Graeme Hawkins this is not what you always do,as the concept of two course settings is only effect for the last 2 or 3 years. Furthermore the load for the track can be spread after the seventh race, as Greyville has in the past handled 10 and 12 race programs with one track setting with consumate ease. Please this to Gold Circle.
Hope the powers that be see the light
If any horse is goIng to beat Jackson, it has to be Gorongosa. She has the speed, the stamina, amazing acceleration, absolute class and a 5year old carrying bottom weight. If she is 5 lenghts off the front, one off the rail approaching the 650m mark, she will leave them standing.