“There’s good money for Legal Eagle, but at the same time we are laying a stream of bets on a wide spread of runners,” said Michael Weare of corporate bookmaking chain Betting World yesterday.
“In fact, there’s significant money for virtually every runner barring the longest-priced outsiders,” he said.
Legal Eagle remains favourite but his odds have been pushed out to 3/1, with champion three-year-old filly Majmu second favourite at 9/2.
Majmu, Wylie Hall (11/2), Helderberg Blue (now 25/1) and Legal Eagle’s stablemate French Navy (7/1) have attracted the most money in the last 24 hours, according to Weare.
The Durban July traditionally sparks the betting spree of the year in South Africa and hundreds of millions of rand will be bet today. TAB expects record tote pools on the Greyville meeting with both the Quartet pool on the Durban July and the Pick 6 pool set to soar over R11 million.
Both pools start with mega carryovers – R1.5 million in the Pick 6 and R1 million in the July Quartet pool.
Legal Eagle and French Navy travelled down by road on Thursday from trainer Sean Tarry’s Randjesfontein base north of Johannesburg and were the last of the runners in the big race to arrive in Durban.
Legal Eagle will be having his first race outside the Joburg racing circuit and fears he may not be seen to best effect on the tight Greyville track with its short home straight is what is prompting many to bet against the star three-year-old.
Three months ago he had only one victory to show from three starts and hardly looked out of the ordinary. But he won his next three races in succession in grand style, culminating in a runaway success against some talented and tough older horses in the Jubilee Handicap three weeks ago, and he’s now the joint top-rated horse in South Africa.
Theoretically, that makes him a good thing with only 54kg to carry and, if he does win, he will give oft-champion owners Markus Jooste and his wife, Ingrid, their first July triumph.
He will be ridden by Anton Marcus, who has won the July four times in his illustrious career, while Tarry is going for his third win in the race in just four years.
Tarry is confident and said this week: “If he takes to the track, he is a big runner. He has improved drastically.”
Legal Eagle’s opposition is spearheaded by champion four-year-old Futura, champion three-year-old filly Majmu and French Navy, who used his devastating finishing burst to good effect in the Daily News 2000 at Greyville a month ago. Plus there’s Wylie Hall, who has his last race before heading to stud. He won the July last year only to lose it on an objection.