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Durban July pips the Springboks to the post in the Covid-free era

This weekend’s Hollywoodbets Durban July will be the first major sporting event to capitalise on capacity crowds following the lifting of Covid-19 regulations

FILE - This weekend’s Hollywoodbets Durban July will be the first major sporting event to capitalise on capacity crowds following the lifting of Covid-19 regulations.

Published Jul 1, 2022


Cape Town — Since all Covid restrictions and regulations have been removed, the Hollywoodbets Durban July which starts at 11.50am on Saturday, and has its feature race at 4pm, will be South Africa's first major sporting event to capitalise on a hosting capacity crowd.

An hour later, the Springboks will be next to host a full-house crowd at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, where they go up against touring Wales in the first rugby Test. The 'Sold Out' signs went four days ago as rugby fans snapped tickets to see the Boks in action on home soil for the first time since winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

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Last year, the Springbok were in action on home soil for both the British and Irish Lions Series, as well as the 2021 SANZAAR Rugby Championship games. However, all the matches were played behind closed doors.

Saturday's racing will mark the 126th edition of the Hollywoodbets Durban July, and for the first time in two years, the hosts Gold Circle will roll out hospitality marquees and packed stands at the Greyville Racecourse. Traditionally it is Africa’s greatest horseracing event where food, drink, décor and entertainment are the order of the day.

Stephen Marshall, the Gold Circle Event and Marketing Executive, said there are 12 races on the card, and gates will open at 9am. Entrance tickets are on sale at all Computicket outlets. In addition, the organisers will be selling tickets on Saturday from Gate 9, Gate 15 and the Boomtown hospitality venue.

“The Durban July has traditionally brought the Rainbow Nation together in a spirit of goodwill and excitement, and with the support of our sponsors, Hollywoodbets, this year will be no different,” said Marshall.

"Proof of vaccination and negative PCR tests is no longer a requirement for entry to the racecourse. It is most welcome and a great boost for the event.

"Racegoers can look forward to a great day with a mixture of high-quality thoroughbred horse racing, exciting fashion and contemporary music combining to ensure an incredible sporting and social experience."

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While fashion, food, celebrity sightings and glamour will steal the limelight on the day, the feature race will take the pride of place at Greyville. The R5 million Grade 1 Hollywoodbets Durban July race has attracted 18 of the continent's finest flat racers in the country's most famous horse race.

When punters arrive at Greyville on Saturday they will find either Safe Passage or Linebacker at the top of the boards. On Friday, betting was brisk and Safe Passage, drawn in gate 10, and trained by Mike de Kock, was offered at 4/1 odds.

The Vaughan Marshall-trained Linebacker was the next most fancied horse at 5-1 but that can change over the next hours. This week Marshall oozed confidence and felt Linebacker, starting in gate 4, would not disappoint.

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Further back near the top of the boards lies the dangerous Kommetdieding, Pomp and Power and Sparkling Water. The Harold Crawford and Michelle Rix-trained Kommetdieding was a shock winner last year, and this time, starting in gate 13 will carry top weight. The Kommetdieding - Gavin Lerena is a feared partnership and they will be right up there at the finish.

Cape Derby star Pomp And Power, with Richard Fourie in the saddle, looks like the best bet for Cape Town trainer Justin Snaith, who has five runners in the 18-horse field. He knows a thing or two about racing at Greyville and is no stranger to the winners’ enclosure there after his three wins on the trot from 2028-20. His runners Belgarion won in 2020 and Do It Again ran back-to-back wins in 2018 and 2019.

Punters looking to back a horse that could the thunder of the favourites don't have to look any further than the filly Sparkling Water, who has excellent form coming into the race and trained by Mike de Kock.

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Interestingly, the last time a filly wore the winner's sash, was in 2011 when Australian-bred superstar Igugu won and was also trained by De Kock.

The field (draw, betting, jockey, trainer):

10 Safe Passage 4/1 M Yeni M de Kock

4 Linebacker 5/1 G v Niekerk V Marshall

8 Pomp And Power 7/1 R Fourie J Snaith

1 Aragosta 7/1 W Kennedy M de Kock

2 Do It Again 10/1 A Domeyer J Snaith

12 Sparkling Water 10/1 S Khumalo M de Kock

13 Kommetdieding 25/2 G Lerena H Crawford / M Rix

3 Hoedspruit 14/1 C Zackey J Snaith

9 Jet Dark 16/1 B Fayd'Herbe J Snaith

7 Waterberry Lane 20/1 K de Melo D Kannemeyer

11 Belgarion 25/1 P Strydom J Snaith

6 Airways Law 25/1 TBA A Nel

16 Al Muthana 33/1 C Murray M de Kock

14 Red Saxon 40/1 S Moodley J Soma

15 Second Base 40/1 K Matsunyane J A Janse v Vuuren

18 Flying Carpet 40/1 C Habib S Tarry

5 Puerto Manzano 66/1 R Danielson J A Janse v Vuuren

17 Astrix 66/1 56.5 JP v'd Merwe P Peter

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