But for Richard Fourie, the pilot of Legislate, there was little doubt that his mount had been hampered inside the final 300m and when the result was reversed he was understandably pleased. Even though he didn’t get a chance for a victory salute as the horses crossed the line at Greville Racecourse.
“I’m pretty bummed about that. If everything had gone well I would probably have won by a length and would have had my fairytale ending. It happens. It’s not the first time it’s happened in the July and I can assure you it won’t be the last. I’m just glad that the right call was made,” Fourie said in the aftermath.
The 28-year-old may not have been able to raise his stick to salute the 50 000 people at the event but he did realise a lifelong dream to win a race that is targeted by every single jockey riding in South Africa.
“When you go into the Academy there are two targets you set for yourself one being the South African jockey’s championship and the other is to win the July. I’m fortunate that I managed to bag one of them this year,” Fourie, who had challenged current log-leader S’manga Khumalo throughout the season, said.
“I’m probably going to go for the title of champion jockey next year,” he added.
“This is our race. One of the most prestigious races in South Africa. Every jockey wants to win it and for some it’s haunted them. They’ve won championships but they just couldn’t crack it in this race.
“I’m pleased and fortunate to have had the opportunity to ride Legislate to victory. He’s such a smart horse and without the horse it wouldn’t have been possible,” said Fourie.
The race day itself lived up to its regular billing and there were the usual fashions and celebrities on display with president Jacob Zuma also in attendance for the main race on the card.
“The economic value to Durban that this event brings is greater than that of the seven games that were hosted by this city during the 2010 World Cup,” Graeme Hawkins, the racing and marketing executive for operators Gold Circle, said at the conclusion of the event.
As expected, betting numbers on the day were huge with the highlight being a new South African record Pick Six pool in excess of R13 million while the national totalisator operators, Saftote, reported betting activity of R106 million on the meeting as a whole.