Horses / Horse News

Nick Gordon
1 minute read
3 Jul 2015
10:00 am

Riding in the cutthroat Durban July

Nick Gordon

While some 50 000 plus spectators will pack into Greyville for this year's running of the Vodacom Durban July, a select group of 18 will have a unique view of the race.

FILE PICTURE: Kaitlin Stork wears and embelished flower infused head piece during the best dressed parade at the Vodacom Durban July, 05 July 2014. Picture: Refilwe Modise

For the 18 jockeys, this is the Holy Grail. The R3.5 million spectacle is arguably the biggest in South Africa and the roll of honour includes a list of distinguished equine performers.

About what it was like to line up for the Grade One contest run on the first Saturday in July every year, former top jockey Brett Smith said yesterday: “It’s cutthroat and it’s hard.

Nobody gives an inch. You hesitate for one second and the gap closes. It’s the one everyone wants to win.”

Smith is part of a group of talented riders unable to clinch a victory in this famous event. His best finish was a short head third riding Tytola in 2002.

For jockeys. identifying their Durban July mount is a process of elimination over the course of a few months. It’s all part of an exciting journey culminating in the 2 200m race as thoroughbred talent combines with the skill of the men who pilot them home.

Tomorrow the class of 2015 will experience that.