Snaith poised for a sixth Durban July winner

THREE seems to be the lucky number with three-year-olds like Hluhluwe tipped for the main race in Greyville today. | Supplied

THREE seems to be the lucky number with three-year-olds like Hluhluwe tipped for the main race in Greyville today. | Supplied

Published Jul 6, 2024


TRAINER Justin Snaith with several fancied runners holds a strong hand in this year’s R5 million Grade 1 Hollywoodbets Durban July (HDJ) at Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse today.

Snaith and Mike de Kock, with five Durban July winners each, are the most successful trainers in the ‘Class of 24’. Today both trainers will have a chance to join the legendary Cape trainer Terrance Millard who has six on the all-time winners’ list of trainers.

The list is headed by Syd Laird, another Cape trainer who racked up seven winners between 1961 and 1978.

The Gauteng-based De Kock, with Shoemaker (four-year-old) and Aragosta (five) in the capacity field of 18 horses, feels his charges will battle against the coastal entrants from the Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. He said the three-year-olds could hold the trump cards because the pace could be a huge factor today.

His runners were impressive in the gallops.

However, the 2023 runner-up, See It Again, who’ll carry 60kg with his merit rating of 131, caught the eye with a strong finish at the gallops.

Trained by Michael Roberts and ridden by the veteran Piere Strydom, See It Again has shown good form. A win for See It Again, one of the favourites, could see Roberts complete the Durban July double as a jockey and trainer.

De Kock was pleased that his horses had prepared well, and he expected them to “be in the mix”.

Snaith brings Future Swing and Double Superlative to the party which offers a purse of R5 million. Without Question was a late scratching on Thursday afternoon and the first reserve Hluhluwe, will now become a runner.

He said this year’s showpiece, the 128th running of the Durban July, will be the most open race in years. “This year’s field is a complete mixed box of chocolates,” Snaith said in a TV interview.

He feels good about his chances with this trio and has lined up the who’s who of jockeys to help him steal the thunder at Greyville.

Hluhluwe will have Rachel Venniker in the saddle and will be jumping from barrier three. Venniker will be in the spotlight as she will become the first female jockey to ride in the Durban July. It would be a massive double of ‘firsts’ if she ended up in the winner’s circle after the 2200m race.

Like Without Question, Hluhluwe is trained by Snaith and runs in the colours of Nick Jonsson. Remarkably, despite the scratching, Venniker has retained a Durban July ride after missing out in the past two years for various reasons.

The Gold Circle press release to announce Without Question’s scratching informed: “This could have been another cruel slice of luck for Rachel Venniker who has already missed two Julys from a late scratching and getting injured just before the race last year.

“The whole of South Africa will be relieved to hear that Rachel has been confirmed to partner Hluhluwe and will become the first female jockey to ride in Africa’s greatest horse race.”

Future Swing looks like the pick of the Snaith trio and Richard Fourie, who has been in exhilarating form this season, is on board. He has drawn barrier four alongside Without Question.

Fourie, after three Durban July wins, knows what it takes to master the Greyville track. He’ll be one of the favourites and write him off at your peril.

Snaith’s Cape Town Met winner Double Superlative will again join forces with the British-based jockey Danny Muscutt. The Zimbabwe-born Muscutt was spectacular when he guided Double Superlative to victory at Kenilworth in January.

Much has been said about Africa’s greatest horseracing event but the consensus is that the Dean Kannemeyer-trained Green With Envy will prevail today.

See it Again, Royal Victory and Oriental Charm are most fancied to pick up the three minor placings.