DURBAN - Opinions are hugely divided as to the likely winner of Saturday’s Vodacom Durban July – the only certainty being the uncertainty.
Indications are that few of the country’s tipsters are in agreement, except that it is an open race, and bookmakers have been reluctant to offer any price over 36-1, this in an 18-horse field where luck in running can be paramount.
All those who drew so-called outsiders in the office sweep need not be disheartened and the 50 000 people expected at Greyville Racecourse on Saturday are in for a cracking ride.
Those looking for divine help, the traditional “July Beans” could come to the rescue. Trainer Paul Peter, bidding for his first Grade 1 victory with Majestic Mambo, will be heartened by the fact that its bean stalk has edged ahead of long-time leader Tilbury Fort with Coral Fever a close third.
But equally, on Friday morning trainer Duncan Howells stumbled on a four-leaf clover when putting the final touches to his filly Fiorella on a crisp morning at Ashburton.
Horse racing cultivates superstitions more than any other sport but it’s best to stick with the form book.
By mid-morning on Friday, more than R2 million had been wagered on the tote, the combined win and place pools itself more than R1m.
Stable companions African Night Sky and Made To Conquer were vying for tote favourite at around R7 for a win with Abashiri, Do It Again and Fiorella all paying around R10 for a win.
The three biggest movers in the bookmakers betting have been Elusive Silva, Matador Man and White River, but African Night Sky is still firm at the top of the boards.
For first-time or novice punters who have no idea but want a flutter, a new tote bet has been launched called the 3Mix. For R30, choose the three horses you fancy most, ask your tote teller for a 3Mix and you get a range of bets.
Wins and places on the three horses, three times each, a swinger boxed twice, and a trifecta boxed once.
For the ticket-holder, getting at least one horse in the first three means the ticket’s a winner. Get two in the first three, better still. And getting a full house of all three will mean collecting eight separate payouts.
Punters should also take note that the tote is paying six places in the big race.
Betting on the R4.25m Vodacom Durban July over 2 200m at Greyville Racecourse is:
26-10 African Night Sky
7-1 Do It Again
9-1 White River
10-1 Made To Conquer
12-1 Abashiri, Majestic Mambo, Elusive Silva
15-1 Tilbury Fort
18-1 Matador Man
25-1 Dark Moon Rising
33-1 Liege, Yakeen, Rocket Countdown, Secret Potion
36-1 Coral Fever, Star Express
45-1 Gold Standard
NOTE: Bets accurate as of Friday night
For those not able to get to Greyville, the meeting will be broadcast live on DStv channels 204 and 239 from 2.30pm to 5pm. The main race is due off at 4.20pm.
THE INDEPENDENT ON SATURDAY