Belgarion takes top honours at Vodacom Durban July
By Andrew Harrison
DURBAN – It was a plan that came together in spectacular fashion as favourite Belgarion gave trainer Justin Snaith his fifth winner of the Vodacom Durban July in front of an empty grandstand at Hollywoodbets Greyville on Saturday. It was also a third win for jockey Richard Fourie as the Alec and Gillian Foster home-bred sailed home ahead of Got The Green Light and Do It Again who came within a length of pulling off a record third straight win in the race.
“He was a horse with problems last year so we took our time and planned to go into this race with a light weight,” said Snaith. “It was thanks to the Foster’s patience, they are staunch supporters of South African racing, and they will be enjoying a glass of wine in England.”
“We planned this from six months back,” echoed Fourie who gave his mount the perfect ride to record his seventh win from nine starts. Snaith planned the gelding’s campaign to perfection to get him into the July with bottom weight for his age group and was always bullish of his chances. “He won’t be carrying 53kg in next year’s July,” he promised during the week.
It was also a smart tactical race from the stable as Silvano’s Pride took July rookie Serino Moodley on a merry tour of the track as she set a blistering pace which earned him a reprimand from the Stipendiary Stewards. At one stage she was almost 10 lengths clear of her nearest rival but the red light was flashing as the field swung for home. In fairness the strapping filly set out after early leader Padre Pio and once in front took a hold of the bit and set off for home.
Fourie did not escape sanction. With the adrenalin running high he overstepped the whip rule and will face a penalty that still has to be decided upon.
Muzi Yeni, on second-placed Got The Greenlight said his colt had every chance but had been a little quiet in the preliminaries which had been concerning but had no excuses.
Warren Kennedy who rode second favourite Rainbow Bridge said the 2200m had been too far for his mount. “At the 300 is was cruising and thought it would be a matter of how far, but he suddenly emptied out. He just didn’t stay.”
Donovan Dillon shed over 3.5kg to make the weight on Golden Ducat. “I made it just,” he said before the race. He felt that the Cape Derby winner had run a tremendous race. “He will be a big runner next year,” said Dillon who is unlikely to be around to ride the gelding as he has applied to join a host of South African jockeys in Australia.
Soqrat was having his last race before heading for stallion duties next season and finished eighth. “It was a fair race,” said rider Callan Murray. In a race that is notoriously rough, there were no hard luck stories. “I think that they were going to fast for anything to happen,” commented chief stipe Deanthan Moodley.
Belgarion was the only favourite to obliged in the Pick 6 with the pool reaching the expected R15 million and paying out R13.6 million to 1.09 tickets.