In a race of firsts, Kabelo Matsunyane scored the biggest win of his career as Winchester Mansion got the better of hometown favourite See It Again in a tight finish to the Gr1 Hollywoodbets Durban July at Hollywoodbets Greyville.
The massive crowd of spectators were treated to a thrilling spectacle as two horses and two jockeys gave it their all.
The two joined in combat 300m out as they pulled clear of the opposition, and it was a duel to the line. Piere Strydom, bidding for his fifth win in the race before his expected retirement, had to switch See It Again off the heels of a tiring Without Question, but looked to just hold the upper hand on his challenger as Michael Roberts’ runner See It Again stuck resolutely to his guns. But Winchester Mansion gained inch-by-inch and it was a nod of the heads at the line with Winchester Mansion prevailing by a head.
It was Matsunyane’s first Gr1 victory of his career, it was also a first for trainer Brett Crawford and his son James, and owner and breeder Gaynor Rupert of Drakenstein stud who have had a fabulous feature race season.
It was something of a fairytale win for Winchester Mansion who injured his neck in a paddock accident as a youngster. Named after an iconic old hotel in Sea Point in Cape Town, his neck injury delayed the start to his racing career, but he showed his potential by winning the Gr3 Winter Derby at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth before losing his way a little.
A decision was taken to geld him, and the transformation was instant as he was an unlucky second in the World Sports Betting Greyville 1900 before cementing his place in the July with a smashing victory in the Gr3 Cup Trial.
Crawford was almost speechless but was full of praise for his jockey.
“When you’ve got a guy like Strydom on your inside you don’t expect the other jock to get past him, so full credit to Kabelo, he’s had a phenomenal season. He rode a great race and he’s set himself a great future ahead.”
For Roberts it was heartbreak, so near but so far. Roberts and Strydom’s relationship goes back to their riding days where both were fierce competitors. Strydom gave See It Again the perfect ride but was just not able to give his older rival 3.5kg.
THE FIRST SIX PAST THE POST IN THE 2023 HOLLYWOODBETS DURBAN JULY WERE:
1 WINCHESTER MANSION
2 SEE IT AGAIN
3 BLESS MY STARS
4 DO IT AGAIN
5 SECOND BASE
6 DAVE THE KING
Mike de Kock saddled his fifth winner of Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event, the first under the banner of new sponsor Hollywoodbets, when Sparkling Water ‘exploded’ clear of the field to win the 2022 Hollywoodbets Durban July at Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse.
This was also the third time the master trainer had won the race with a filly after Igugu and Ipi Tombe and the second victory for S’Manga Khumalo who was the first black jockey to win the race on Heavy Metal back in 2013.
Sparkling Water challenged veteran galloper Do It Again approaching the 300m mark and drew off to win in commanding fashion.
Jet Dark rattled on from behind to snatch third along with Safe Passage with Do It Again relegated to fourth.
There was drama at the start as Do It Again dislodged his rider and had to be reloaded after a vet check and the unruly Pomp And Power shedded his bridle before being tacked up again.
In contrast to most years the race was run at a pedestrian gallop and the time, some three seconds outside of the record, scuppered many a race plan including that of eventual favourite Pomp And Power.
Richard Fourie took a tight hold to settle the head-strong gelding from the jump to avoid him tearing off to the front as has been his want.
But with the pace slowed up, Pomp And Power was caught in a pocket from which he never escaped.
Khumalo, who was originally carded to partner Jet Dark, jumped ship to ride Sparkling Water and he rode the perfect race. His instructions were to go forward and he sat in just behind pacemakers Puerto Manzano and Astrix with Do It Again also tracking the pace.
Aldo Domeyer made an early move on Do It Again at the top of the straight and for a few strides looked as if the gelding was up to winning his third July, but once Khumalo asked his filly to quicken, it was a case of race over as she sped clear to win by the longest margin in the last 20 year history of the race.
Jet Dark was undone by the 6.5kg in the handicap with the winner but was far from disgraced in second while Safe Passage proved to be the best of the three-year-olds.
Last year’s winner, Kommetdieding was always in contention but unable to produce a repeat performance.
THE FIRST SIX HORSES PAST THE POST IN THE 2022 DURBAN JULY WERE:-
- SPARKLING WATER
- SAFE PASSAGE
- JET DARK
- DO IT AGAIN
- AIRWAYS LAW
It was a triumph for the small stable at Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse as Kommetdieding ran the race of his life to win the 2021 Durban July, the final under Vodacom’s sponsorship.
An emotional Harold Crawford has been part of the supporting cast in the Western Cape for over four decades, never quite in the spotlight, but it was firmly focussed on him and his daughter Michelle Rix on the first Saturday of July 2021. Gavin Lerena rode a masterful race to get the colt home ahead of the two favourites Linebacker and Got The Greenlight with Do It Again a tad unlucky in fourth.
It was also a triumph for the small owner even although Ashwin Reynolds was ‘confined to barracks’ on the Cape Flats in Cape Town under the level four Covid lockdown. “I just see Kommetdieding on the outside and I just said go, take it home,” he said.
Reynolds, who reportedly turned down tempting telephone number offers early on for Kommetdieding, became the first person of colour to own a Durban July winner and Kommetdieding is also the first horse with an Afrikaans name on the race’s illustrious roll of honour.
A remarkably calm Michelle Rix said, “It still feels so surreal and wonderful. We came here and had one race in mind and you know with these horses it is stepping stones all the way.
Obviously we were a little disappointed with his two previous runs in KZN and we knew he was better than that and we had tough times ahead of us to prove it to everybody. Ashwin is truly one in a million. I’m at a loss for words for the time and the free reign he gives us to do our job.”
Lerena thanked Billy Jacobson who rode work on Kommetdieding in the mornings whilst he was riding in Gauteng.
In the race, “I was very happy where I was. I was three deep. I just wanted him to find his rhythm. He’s a young and immature horse and I didn’t want him to get knocked around.
He was settled that I was able to make a move at the 800 and keep Do It Again in there and when I asked him for an effort in the straight inside the 300 he gave me a real good kick and ran all the way to the line.”
Lerena had to shed 4kg to make the 53kg allotted to Kommetdieding. “It’s been a tough four weeks but I took on the challenge and I came here today feeling strong and looking forward to today’s ride and it’s just beautiful when a plan comes together.”
Asked whether he had now got the monkey of a July winner off his back, he quipped, “I might eat a monkey tonight.”
THE FIRST SIX PAST THE POST IN THE 2021 DURBAN JULY WERE:-
3.GOT THE GREENLIGHT
4.DO IT AGAIN
It was a plan that came together in spectacular fashion as favourite Belgarion gave trainer Justin Snaith his fifth winner of the Durban July in front of an empty grandstand at Hollywoodbets Greyville. It was also a third win for jockey Richard Fourie as the Alec and Gillian Foster home-bred sailed home ahead of Got The Greenlight and Do It Again who came within a length of pulling off a record third straight win in the race.
“He was a horse with problems last year so we took our time and planned to go into this race with a light weight,” said Snaith. “It was thanks to the Foster’s patience, they are staunch supporters of South African racing, and they will be enjoying a glass of wine in England.”
It was also a smart tactical race from the stable as Silvano’s Pride took July rookie Serino Moodley on a merry tour of the track as she set a blistering pace which earned him a reprimand from the Stipendiary Stewards. At one stage she was almost 10 lengths clear of her nearest rival but the red light was flashing as the field swung for home. In fairness the strapping filly set out after early leader Padre Pio and once in front took a hold of the bit and set off for home.
Muzi Yeni, on second-placed Got The Greenlight, said his colt had every chance but had been a little quiet in the preliminaries which had been concerning but he had no excuses.
Warren Kennedy who rode second favourite Rainbow Bridge said the 2200m had been too far for his mount. “At the 300 we were cruising and I thought it would be a matter of how far, but he suddenly emptied out. He just didn’t stay.”
Donovan Dillon shed over 3.5kg to make the weight on Golden Ducat. “I made it just,” he said before the race. He felt that the Cape Derby winner had run a tremendous race. “He will be a big runner next year,” said Dillon.
Belgarion was the only favourite to oblige in the Pick 6 with the pool reaching the expected R15 million and paying out R13.6 million to 1.09 tickets.
THE FIRST SIX PAST THE POST IN THE 2020 DURBAN JULY WERE:-
GOT THE GREENLIGHT
DO IT AGAIN
IT’S MY TURN
Do It Again wrote himself into the record books as he became only the fourth horse in the 126-year history of the Durban July to win back-to-back races, emulating El Picha 1999/2000, Milesia Pride 1949/50 and Campanajo who won the first two running’s way back in 1897/98.
It was a superb performance from a super racehorse who stamped himself as head and shoulders above his peers.
Justin Snaith declared his hand early and would not hear of defeat for his champion in the build-up.
“He’s the best horse in the country at weight for age and now he’s shown that he’s the best horse in the country whichever way you look at it.”
Earlier in the week he declared, “I think 4/1 is a crazy price (about Do It Again). There is no ways he is a 4/1 shot in any race in South Africa you put him into. You can give him 65kg and he should be 2/1.”
Prophetic words as Richard Fourie gave him the perfect ride, staying out of trouble and giving his mount a clear run to the line to hold off the challenge of Rainbow Bridge with Twist Of Fate third and Eyes Wide Open fourth.
Mike Rattray, one of the doyens of South African racing, will have to wait another year to have another go in the race he has most wanted to win. Rainbow Bridge was game in defeat but found one too good. “When I pressed the button I thought I had the race,” said jockey Gavin Lerena. “He ran all the way to the line but we just couldn’t get there.”
The race was not without drama. Favourite Hawwaam’s hot temperament is well documented and all seemed to be on track as he paraded without fuss. However, the last to be loaded into the starting stalls, he rushed the front gate and was released from his stall.
Anton Marcus was quick to jump off and Hawwaam was backed out. It was evident to all that Hawwaam was feeling the effects of his antics and the course vet had no choice but to withdraw him from the race. He said “We are here to put on a show and entertain, but I had no choice.”
“It was the right decision,” said a sporting Mike de Kock post-race. “The best horse won and I hope this doesn’t make all the headlines.”
It was poignant win for owners Bernard Kantor and Nic Jonsson and Helga Mitchell, whose husband Jack had passed away a month or two before raceday.
THE FIRST SIX PAST THE POST IN THE 2019 DURBAN JULY WERE:-
DO IT AGAIN
TWIST OF FATE
EYES WIDE OPEN
Staying true to its long established status as Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event in attracting the country’s best horses and the biggest single day crowd at a sporting event, the 122nd running of the R4.25-million Durban July was another outstanding success.
The horses, trainers, jockeys and the general public came from all corners of the country and many others travelled to Greyville from various overseas centres for the 2 200m event that is rated among the top iconic races in the world.
And from the Western Cape came a racing team that has grown in stature to become one of the leading yards with trainer Justin Snaith being installed as the champion conditioner for the season.
From that team came five of the 18 runners that faced the starter for the famous Grade 1 event and after the dust had settled and the result was posted, Snaith runners filled the first three places and another finished fifth. It was one of the most outstanding performances by a racing stable since the legendary trainer Terrance Millard dominated the racing scene in South Africa in the 1980s.
The Snaith runners headed the betting for the Durban July with the Dynasty gelding African Night Sky topping the boards after his impressive victory in the Cup Trial. With top former South African jockey Jeff Lloyd – now riding very successfully in Australia – aboard the other Dynasty gelding from the Snaith team, Made To Conquer, and on a mission to finally win the big race that had eluded him, the four-year-old as well as another Snaith runner, Do It Again, were also among the shorter priced runners in the race.
Overall, it looked a very open race with a number of runners having performed admirably in their build-up feature events around the country displaying talent putting them in the picture as having the ability to feature prominently in the finish.
For “the Guv”, with the race moving into its final stage, his bid for victory on Made To Conquer was looking pretty good as the field stormed down the home straight with stable companions African Night Sky, Elusive Silva and Do It Again looking dangerous along with Majestic Mambo and Rocket Countdown.
Aboard the Twice Over gelding Do It Again jockey Anton Marcus had his eye on favourite African Night Sky at the head of the field who he assessed was over racing as well as Made To Conquer that was staying on strongly. He made his bid on Do It Again down the centre of the track, swooping through to snatch the victory. Made To Conquer kept on to take second place ahead of Elusive Silva and Majestic Mambo with favourite African Night Sky in fifth place.
THE FIRST SIX PAST THE POST IN THE 2018 DURBAN JULY WERE:-
DO IT AGAIN
MADE TO CONQUER
AFRICAN NIGHT SKY
Last year’s runner up Marinaresco defied carrying the heaviest weight to race to a spectacular win under Bernard Fayd’Herbe to win the R4,25 million Durban July at Greyville Racecourse, giving trainer Candice Bass-Robinson her maiden win in Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event.
Fayd’Herbe engineered a spectacular charge through the middle of the field in the closing two hundred metres to win from a resurgent Al Sahem and another pre-race favourite Edict Of Nantes edging ahead of outsider Krambambuli and the filly Nightingale.
There were joyous scenes on the track as Fayd’Herbe was congratulated by his brother Robert, who had overseen much of Marinaresco’s training at the Bass yard at the Summerveld Training Centre.
The capacity crowd revelled in the fever pitch excitement as the thoroughbreds turned into the home straight, and needed replays to confirm that Marinaresco was indeed the 2017 champion.
The massive crowd then returned to the lavishly appointed s
uites and the vibrant Marquee Village to celebrate the occasion that will be remembered for its mild weather, and a distinct fashion leaning towards bling, glitz and glamour and away from the bizarre.
The totes did a brisk business throughout the day, and it was clear that, despite the reality of economic recession, racegoers were not going to curtail their extravagance on the day.
THE FIRST SIX PAST THE POST IN THE 2017 DURBAN JULY WERE:-
EDICT OF NANTES
Thousands of punters and party-seekers braved the chilly July weather at Greyville Racecourse to enjoy the 120th instalment of Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event with the fabled seventh race enthralling all as unfancied The Conglomerate gave trainer Joey Ramsden his first Durban July winner.
The seventh race lived up to the expectation with the final furlong producing all the action as the pre-race favourites all fell by the wayside which left The Conglomerate, starting from the extreme outside draw of eighteen and ridden by Durban July veteran Piere Strydom, and Marinaresco to fight it out over the final lengths with the former winning and claiming the R4.25 Million prize with Mac de Lago finishing in third position.
A thrilled Strydom heaped praise on the four year old, saying he had more than enough to hold off the challenge from Marinaresco, with the fancied Bela-Bela failing to mount a challenge in the finish straight after straightening on the inside.
THE FIRST SIX PAST THE POST IN THE 2016 DURBAN JULY WERE:-
MAC DE LAGO (AUS)
IT’S MY TURN
Winning trainer Dean Kannemeyer compared his victory on Saturday with his previous two July wins, “The first time I won it with Dynasty (2003) I was over the moon. When I won it with Eyeofthetiger (2006) it was just as exciting and today was even more exciting.
Owners, trainers, breeders, jockeys, everybody wants to win the Durban July. When you win the July you walk off the grandstand and it is like putting on your Springbok jersey and saying you have arrived. Gary Player says it’s like winning The Masters.
Kannemeyer spoke of the continual improvement Power King had shown since being gelded last November and said he had also enjoyed an excellent preparation. He was well drawn and receiving weight from some of the three-year-olds.
Kannemeyer said, “On all of that we just needed a bit of luck. In the race I was very happy with where he was sitting. I was actually surprised. I thought he would be further back. So Stuey (Stuart Randolph) got him into a nice position, he came into the straight and had to look for room and then he quickened up well.”
Regarding the objection he said, “You’re always going to worry but the way I read the race was that the second horse was causing interference and my horse was staying in a straight line. But the decision was the right decision by the board so I was pleased about that.”
THE FIRST SIX HORSES PAST THE POST IN THE 2015 DURBAN JULY WERE:-
There was high drama and a dramatic twist to the outcome of the 2014 Durban July, with the final result resting with the stipendiary stewards.
An objection is not the scenario anyone would have wished for prior to the race and the result of this one will be debated ad nauseam for years to come.
Outsider Wylie Hall (33-1) and second favourite Legislate (5-1) fought a desperate duel over the final 600m with the pair coming together on at least four occasions. The official winning margin was a head with Futura third and Tellina in fourth.
The horses had barely cross the finishing line than jockey Richard Fourie raced back to lodge a protest. The general consensus on course was that the result would stand but after a lengthy deliberation the stipendiary stewards reversed the result, giving the race to Legislate.
As predicted, pace was always going to be a problem with no natural front-runner to set the gallop. As a result Richard Fourie took matters into his own hands and sent Legislate to the front.
“His instructions were to drop the horse in but he used his initiative,” said assistant trainer Jonathan Snaith. “From his wide draw he went to the front and then moved onto the rail, forcing runners to go around him.”
The first to go was Wylie Hall followed by Halve The Deficit with Legislate next best.
At the top of the straight Legislate moved in to challenge Wylie Hall and these two fought neck and neck to the line. However, after giving Wylie Hall an initial bump, Wylie Hall began shifting out and slowly carried Legislate across the track making contact on at least three occasions.
Bernard Fayd’Herbe, who was watching from behind on King Of Pain, said he thought the objection result was justified. “I watched “MJ” carrying Richard across and I said to him on the way back that I thought he was in trouble.”
There were some other hard luck stories. In the early scrimmaging Louis The King clipped the heels of Captain America and nearly fell while Rake’s Chestnut took a hefty bump and was forced very wide. Earlier, Captain America, who was pulling hard for his head, clipped the heels of In The Fast Lane and also pecked badly.
The victory cemented Justin Snaith’s unassailable position at the top of the training log with less than a month of the season still to run.
THE FIRST SIX PAST THE POST IN THE 2014 DURBAN JULY WERE:-
WYLIE HALL (AUS)
IN THE FAST LANE