This weekend is the last chance for runners to prove their worth for one of the 18 spots available in this year’s Vodacom Durban July over 2200m at Greyville on Saturday 2 July.
Today Greyville stages the Grade 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge over 1600m, the Grade 2 Tibouchina Stakes over 1400m for fillies and mares, and the Grade 3 Cup Trial over 1800m while the Grade 3 Jubilee Handicap over 1800m will be run at Turffontein tomorrow.
Sean Tarry has a strong hand in the Gold Challenge with French Navy, Trip To Heaven and Prospect Strike and preference is for the latter. French Navy is the best handicapped runner but he has already booked his place in the Durban July and Tarry will no doubt be using this run to sharpen him up. In addition, he could find 1600m a touch sharp but he should be running on at the finish.
Trip To Heaven will be having his first run as a gelding and he will ridden by stable jockey S’manga Khumalo. The son of Trippi has won up to 1450m but this will be his first test at 1600m so there is that element of doubt.
However, we do know Prospect Strike stays 1600m and he is proven at the course. As a two-year-old the three-year-old Toreador gelding had to overcome a wide draw in the Premier’s Champion Stakes and was only run out of it late by Rabada.
He has had two more runs at this course – in the Canon Guineas and the Grade 1 Daily News 2000 – but his poor luck with draws at his course continued and he did well to finish just 2.40 lengths behind Black Arthur in the Guineas and 2.35 lengths behind Rabada in the Daily News.
With the scratching of Paterfamilias there are only nine runners left and this time he will have a reasonable No 5 draw. New Predator looks the natural front runner and might go off to set a sedate pace but with Anthony Delpech, who is having a magnificent season in Durban, on his back, Prospect Strike will be close to the pace and could notch up his fourth victory.
French Navy and Ice Machine will be kicking on while, with Piere Strydom up, we can expect a decent run from Mac De Lago who, for anybody who cares, is one of my early fancies for the Durban July.
The talk from Durban is that Inara is working very well and is the filly to beat in the Tibouchina Stakes while, based on the Betting World 1900 form, Dynamic and The Conglomerate could fight out the Cup Trial.