In one of the closest finishes in recent years, three-year-old colt Pomodoro got the better of 100-to-1 outsider Smanjemanje in the R3 million Vodacom Durban July over 2 200 metres at Greyville Racecourse on Saturday.
Favourite Jackson ran a disappointing race to finish down the field.
Jackson's rider, Katris Teetan, got him away to a good start and had him well placed as the field approached the last 1 000 metres.
When Teetan asked him to make his move, however, Jackson failed to produce and faded steadily.
“I have no excuses,” Teetan said.
“He was travelling well up to the halfway mark but just ran out of steam.
“There are just no excuses for his run unless we find anything amiss tomorrow morning.”
The early running was made by Top Seller who raced two lengths clear of Vettal, Beach Beauty and Jackson, with Pomodoro well placed.
There was little change as the field approached the six furlong mark where Jackson began to move into contentiion.
Once in the home stretch, Pomodoro moved up to race past the leaders with Smanjemanje unwinding a run on the outside.
The pair raced stride for stride to the line with Pomodoro just getting the upperhand in the dying strides under a powerful ride from Piere Strydom.
It was Strydom's third success in Africa's richest race and he said Pomodoro had a perfect run from the start.
Pomodoro's win was a first in the big race for trainer Sean Tarry.
“I was a bit disappointed when the draw was announced but I thought we just had to make the best of it,” Tarry said.
“I was confident Pomodoro would run a good race.” – Sapa