Justin Snaith looking at overseas jockey option
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Justin Snaith, seeking a record equalling fourth Vodacom Durban July in succession, has mentioned the possibility of an overseas jockey being booked and he also has Piere Strydom, who is seeking a record equalling fifth July win, in mind.
His two confirmed July riders are stable jockey Richard Fourie and S'Manga Khumalo. Fourie has ridden three July winners and will be attempting to become the first jockey to win it three years in a row.
Khumalo has ridden one July winner.
However, Snaith said no specific jockey had been booked for any specific horse yet.
He did not mention the name of the overseas rider he had in mind.
He said about Strydom, "He is currently under-utilised but is world class, he is always be an option for us."
Strydom is currently resting on doctor's advice due to an eye problem which should not keep him out for long.
Snaith believes he has a virtually impossible task this year taking on the well handicapped five-time Grade 1-winner Got The Greenlight.
He said he is also battling a bug in his Summerveld string.
He said, "I am not saying anybody is right or wrong all I am saying is I don't understand how a horse like Sovereign Spirit can be merit rated the same as Got The Greenlight? What it seems is being said is Johannesburg horses are second rate. Malmoos and Summer Pudding were being talked about as world beaters but this, after just one below par run, no longer seems to be the case."
Looking at the equation on paper, Belgarion beat Got The Greenlight in last year's July at level weights and he now has to give the latter 3kg, meaning, taking weight for age into account, an effective swing of 4.5kg for a 0,80 length beating.
The handicappers did actually make a valiant attempt to raise Got The Greenlight's merit rating to a mark which is more in line with his ability after his Premier's Champions Challenge win and managed to get him up to a 128. However, this was scuppered by an appeal board, who used the "line horse" theory to justify their decision of putting him back to his original 124.
Meanwhile, Sovereign Spirit, who earned his only Grade 1 cheque when finishing a well beaten third in the Cape Town Met, will be 3kg better off with Belgarion for a 2,25 lengths.
Snaith continued, "We have been handed an impossible task but it is what it is and we have overcome the impossible before."
Snaith added, "There is a bit of a bug going around Summerveld, but nothing serious, and we are working on it. Each carded horse has to pass a few tests otherwise we scratch."
He said a number of his string had returned from their races sick or with their bloods a bit off and had to be put on medication.
They included The Gatekeeper, High Hosanna, Speed Machine and Crown Towers, while Do It Again was not a hundred percent and Belgarion was scratched before the WSB 1900 because of an abnormal blood count.
Snaith concluded by saying the July was going to be an "interesting race" and that the Daily News 2000 was going to be a big pointer.
Responding to the belief of many a pundit that he had overrated Daily News entry The Gatekeeper, whom he was speaking of as his July horse earlier this season, he said, "He is still maturing and my opinion should be judged at the end of my horses' careers."