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July's back in the saddle

By unknown | Apr 22, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

The return match of the century is on the cards.

The return match of the century is on the cards.

Last year's Vodacom Durban July dead-heat winners, Pocket Power and Dancer's Daughter, head the 45- strong entries received for Africa's greatest horse racing event, the 2009 R3million Grade 1 Vodacom Durban July to be run on Saturday, July 4.

The entries were unveiled to the media and invited guests at a festive and well-attended Champions Season launch luncheon at Greyville racecourse yesterday.

Racing director Graeme Hawkins said that Gold Circle was proud to host the "greatest racing extravaganza on the African continent" and expressed his delight with the first entries received.

"As true professionals, both Mike Bass and Justin Snaith will be aiming to lay to rest the ghost of last year's tie and will not be resting on their laurels. There is however plenty of depth right through the field and I am pleased to see that the three-year-olds are particularly well represented this year.

Also addressing the gathering, Gold Circle KwaZulu-Natal Racing Board chairperson Moga Pillay said that Gold Circle had earmarked R18,4million to be paid out in feature race stakes during the forthcoming season which comprised 53 feature races.

He said the jewel in the racing crown was the Durban July and he expected this year's big race day to be a bumper event in spite of the economic downturn.

Durban's deputy mayor Logie Naidoo said that the Vodacom Durban July ranked amongst the "five top horse racing events" internationally and played a major role in boosting the local economy.

The entries attracted plenty of media speculation and memory of last year's July finish, where the record-breaking son of champion sire Jet Master, Pocket Power, dead-heated with the flying grey filly from the Snaith yard in the Western Cape, Dancer's Daughter.

The arch rivals have met only twice since that historic day, with Pocket Power winning in both the Grade 1 Champions Cup and this year's J&B Met.

Dancer's Daughter, however, has sounded an ominous warning. In February she travelled north to Gauteng to defy the odds and record an impressive win in the Grade 1 Empress Club Stakes.

All of South Africa's top trainers and geographic regions are represented at this early stage, with Gauteng-based horses making up close to half. Among them are Pocket Power's full sister River Jetez, who ran fourth in the big one last year as well as up-and-coming three-year-olds in the shape of the Paul Lafferty-trained Goat - and Mike de Kock's talented daughter of Jallad, Zirconeum.

Randjesfontein trainer Charles Laird has the highest number of entries and has nominated six horses headed by the unbeaten three-year-old Oracy.

Sean Tarry has entered a quartet headed by Buy And Sell, who will be having his third attempt to win a prize which has to date eluded his loyal owner Chris Van Niekerk.

KwaZulu-Natal trainers, which include Mike de Kock, are represented by 12 horses. An interesting inclusion is the Mike Miller-trained daughter of Muhtafal, Outcome.

And Steve Sturlese's talented mare has certainly earned a crack at the July as she loves the Greyville circuit and has recorded all of her 10 wins there.


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