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There were long faces in some camps at Greyville racecourse on Thursday when many of the early fancies for the R3 million Vodacom Durban July drew wide.
Trainer Brett Crawford could do nothing but shrug his shoulders as he drew 18 for his ruling ante-post favourite, Jackson, while Mike de Kock was not exactly enamoured with the 21 draw he pulled for his SA Oaks winner, Ilha Bela.
De Kock had better luck with Daily News 2000 runner-up Vettel as he drew gate nine, while his mare Gorongosa, a winner of nine of her last 10 races, drew in at seven.
Pierre Jourdan, runner up to Igugu in last year’s Vodacom Durban July, also drew wide at 15.
Trainer Gary Alexander was not particularly perturbed.
“He went into his last race very unprepared but ran a good race. He’s prepared lovely this time, and sometimes a wide draw is not a bad thing as you can keep out of trouble.”
However, with two reserve runners declared for this year’s event, all the runners drawn out further than 11 will come in two places should the reserves, Bulsara (11) and Seal (4), be scratched when the field is finalised on Tuesday before the Saturday, July 7 race.
Bookmakers were quick to react and Jackson drifted from 16-10 to 2-1, while Ilha Bela also drifted, from 6-1 to 8-1.
However, Crawford was still bullish about Jackson’s chances. “He’s a horse that we haven’t seen the best of. Obviously we will need a bit of luck on the day, but I’m still very confident,” he said.
De Kock echoed Crawford’s sentiments.
“I’m of the opinion that he (Jackson) is underrated, although the draw may have brought him a little closer.”
When pressed on which of his four horses he preferred, De Kock said he was leaning towards Ilha Bela.
Two years ago the De Kock-trained filly Zirconeum finished second from draw 20.
Jeff Lloyd, now resident on the Gold Coast in Australia, is back to try to win the one big race that has eluded him in SA and will partner Cheslon for trainer Mike Bass.