A Linebacker is a defensive position in American football so the second favourite for Saturday's Vodacom Durban July is not suitably named as he has the athletic agility and acceleration of a wide receiver and should "touchdown" a couple of minutes after three o' clock tomorrow afternoon.
The Vaughan Marshall-trained Captain Of All gelding has it all as a racehorse, a fine temperament, gatespeed, an action which is a joy to watch as it is so efficient it appears to be effortless, a devastating turn of foot and he stays. The first three assets allow him to be well positioned in the running and even if he does not get cover he relaxes well. The tight Hollywoodbets Greyville straight requires a horse to have a good turn of foot and this horse's acceleration from the 400m to 200m has been measured to be up with Got The Greenlight's, the favourite who is also know for his turn of foot.
Jockey Grant van Niekerk confirmed after his win in the Daily News 2000 he was idling after hitting the front and asked whether he would get the 2200m he said, "On his coconut." Add all this to a well nigh perfect draw of seven and it all points to the three-year-old bay being the horse to beat.
The only niggling concern is his pedigree, which does create a stamina doubt. He is by the champion sprinter Captain Of All out of the Australian-bred Redoute's Choice mare Thin Red Line, whose two wins were over 1000m although she did finish runner up in a Grade 3 over a mile.
Got The Greenlight is a similar type of horse to Linebacker so they were hard to separate in this analysis. He also likes to chase a target and does it in electrifying fashion. He proved he stays this trip in last year's July and has strengthened and improved since so it was a tough decision to not tip him to win. He does tend to take his foot off the pedal after he has hit the front and Linebacker has looked latterly to have the same characteristic so the prediction is that these two top horses will eyeball each other in the last 100m and the winner will be the one who finds the strongest fifth gear.
Rainbow Bridge's form under Luke Ferraris has been better than ever and the six-year-old will also be delivering a strong run from off the pace. His class will likely carry him past most of the field but can he give Linebacker and Got The Greenlight 7kg and 5kg respectively and run past them?
Do It Again will be going for a record-breaking third July win and has his easiest weight-carrying task for the last three years, having carried topweight of 60kg to victory in 2019 and 59.5kg to a 0,90 length third last year. Carrying just 57.5kg this year he has a massive chance on paper and was looking in superb condition at the July gallops. It would be no surprise to see him rewrite the history books as he could also give Richard Fourie a record-breaking third successive July victory and Justin Snaith a record-equalling fourth successive July and the first to achieve this for 108 years.
The Tote will pay to the first five places and a place has to be found for Sovereign Spirit. He finished third in the weight for age Met and will be receiving 4kg from Belgarion for a 2,25 length beating. He is also from a yard known for their ability to produce horses at their absolute peaks for big races. He won last year's consolation race to prove he enjoys this course and distance and has a great draw of eight.
Linebacker's stable companion Rascallion has always been highly thought of and showed why in the Daily News 2000, where he was closing fast for a 0,70 length second. He does not have as good a temperament as Linebacker although this is his third run after gelding which might help him relax in the preliminaries and in the race.
Kommetfdieding is hard to ignore as he has a fine action and has just 0,75 lengths to find on LInebacker from the Daily News, but he does have the widest draw of all to contend with.
Reigning champion Belgarion has to carry 5kg more than last year but is peaking at the right time and top jockey S'Manga Khumalo is brimming with confidence at present.
She's A Keeper is the dark horse as she has had easy weight carrying tasks to date and has won without appearing to be under any pressure. The question is how much extra she had in those races? She could still be anything.
Matterhorn caught the eye in the Lonsdale Stirrup Cup over 2400m travelling beautifully in the running and coming into the straight cantering and was a touch unlucky as the gaps did not open quickly enough. He could be a dark horse for the first five.
ExpressfromtheUS is classy and can turn it on well and is another who could sneak a place.
Crown Towers is a likely pacemaker, that is where he likes to be, and he kicks on well from the front. However, at this level he is unlikely to maintain his lead,
Shah Akbar might also be right up there but is unlikely to reverse beating of two lengths and more in the Daily News with the other three-year-olds.
Cirillo might place if able to reproduce his Champions Cup third place last year but the extra 400m here will stretch him.
Tristful and Nexus have to up their games considerably and so does Johnny Hero.
Running Brave's is a dangerous front-runner who has a tendency to win when least expected but her last two runs were woeful and she might be ready for stud.