Bonginkosi Nkosi
2 minute read
3 Jul 2019
10:25 am

Why Head Honcho looks like such a good bet for Durban July

Bonginkosi Nkosi

Hat-trick looms: Don’t write off the ‘homeboy’.

Head Honcho

Horses do not run on paper.

Keep this cliché in mind when studying the Vodacom Durban July field. It could be the difference between coming out of the race richer, courtesy of a nice outsider, or leaving empty-handed.

Certain horses run their best races at certain venues, just like Barcelona plays its best football at the Camp Nou Stadium.

And, in the case of the Andre Nel-trained Head Honcho, Greyville racecourse – especially  on July Day – is his “home ground”.

This eight-time winning five-year-old will attempt to register a third consecutive triumph on this particular day.

He showed his class by justifying hotpot favouritism in the Mumm Stakes on July Day in 2017 despite the fact jockey Anton Marcus dropped his crop at the 400m.

At last year’s July Day he won the Grade 3 Betting World 2200.

This year Head Honcho is in the big one – the R4.25 million Vodacom Durban July over the same distance he scored over last year and with the same jockey – Keagan de Melo – aboard.

When it comes to winning the Durban July, history clearly proves that favourites don’t fare well in this Grade 1 contest over 2200m. In fact, runners who have topped the betting boards have failed to win the last seven instalments of this R4.25 million spectacle.

The seven previous winners have been priced up between 5-1 and 28-1. Funny enough, Betting World are offering the latter price on Head Honcho and considering TAB are paying out for six places, he also looks a great place bet.

The last thoroughbred to justify favouritism in this race was Mike de Kock-trained Igugu at odds of 2-1 in 2011. Another interesting statistic is that, of the last seven favourites, Al Sahem is the only to finish second. The rest have finished between fourth (71-10 African Night Sky last year) and seventeenth (18-10 Jackson in 2012).

Head Honcho returned from a four-month stint off the racetrack in his most recent attempt when runner-up behind Matador Man over 1600m. But with the benefit of fitness in his favour, this son of Querari will surely improve many on that effort.

He was also on an impressive three-run winning streak prior to running a cracker third in the Grade 1 Sun Met, beaten less than a length by Rainbow Bridge.

He has good form, so don’t write him off because of his wide draw.

In recent years both Pomodoro (2012) and The Conglomerate (2016) have won this race despite this disadvantage.

This mission is not impossible!

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