Horses / Columnists

Piere Strydom
7 minute read
12 Jul 2014
11:48 am

Durban July tactics a hot topic

Piere Strydom

Once again the Vodacom Durban July has been swathed in controversy. We often find most of the debate happens before the race but this year it was all about the pace of the race and the objection which the stipendiary stewards upheld and changed the result.

FILE PICTURE: South African champion jockey Piere Strydom.Picture: Supplied.

From a jockey’s perspective there was never going to be much pace. You rarely get specific instructions but it is expected of you, when a horse runs in a particular manner, that you ride the horse in the same method. The reason being is because if you change something you either get criticised by the trainer, owner, punters and journalists and sometimes the stipes. As a result, we tend to play it safe.

I rode Halve The Deficit and my intentions were to be right up there and if one or two came past me I would have been content to sit up second, third or fourth unless the pace was too fast. As we jumped I found that Whiteline Fever got a flyer and I also notice Espumanti got out quickly. After100m I realised Espumanti wasn’t looking for the lead and obviously Whiteline Fever was not meant to be that handy. At that stage Legislate had jumped well to try and overcome his bad draw along with some others moving over from the outside, including Tellina.

Approaching the 1800m mark I expected to be ahead of horses like Whiteline Fever and Espumanti  but believed there would be a couple of others picking up the pace which would put me in the perfect position to pounce in the short Greyville straight.

At that point the pace slowed severely and, with Legislate finding himself in front and Wylie Hall trying to ease back, it made me think everything would work out well for me. Unfortunately Tellina had come around from the outside and managed to get in front of me. He is one of the worst horses to get ahead of you because he normally has no speed and always comes at the end when the race is over. Because the pace was so slow even he managed to get himself placed.

WATCH: Watch Wylie Hall and Legislate’s battle at the Durban July

At this point we were travelling between the 1700m and 1500m and that caused problems for any of the other jockeys who wanted to race handier as it would have been suicidal to go four horses wide and quicken up the pace so far out.

At the 1400m there is some sort of a back stretch so I used it to get closer. At that stage the others see you do it and with the slow pace, all of them want to do the same thing. At that point MJ Byleveld decided to let Wylie Hall go a little and the horse charged to the front.

Whether it was intentional or not, it was a good move, but it also played into Legislature’s hands as he only had one horse to follow and he had a short Greyville straight, which would make it almost impossible for the rest to catch up.

Entering the straight I was placed third behind the two leaders. I was hoping my horse was good enough and that the frontrunners may tire and give me a sniff at winning the July. Those who sat too far behind lost their chances of winning a long way from home.

Then came the objection. It’s sad to win or lose a July in that manner but all I can say it is very difficult for one horse to pass another horse when he gets carried 4.5-horses width on an outward movement for 250m unless you’ve got many lengths in hand. Unfortunately when the best meet the best, you don’t have that luxury.

I don’t think people realise how difficult it is to get past a horse who leans on you and it’s one thing that needs to be taken into account by the stipes when making their decision.

Interestingly Kevin Shea and I were comparing this objection to the Summer Cup in which he beat me on Wolf Whistle and I was on Yard-Arm. I objected for the same reason. If I’m the one being interfered with, and I keep a straight line and get bumped, it is very difficult for me to get past. But if I allow my horse to run away from that horse so as not get bumped, I end up losing ground and still can’t get past. The objection is still overruled because we did not touch. In any case so you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

In the Yard-Arm case I kept straight but did not get the decision. If I didn’t keep straight and I allowed Wolf Whistle to hang towards me there would have been no bumping and I wouldn’t have got the objection in any case.

I believe most people want the same thing when it comes to objections and that is consistency.

I have been riding in the Durban July since 1988 and this is the slowest I have ever ridden in so for those who want my opinion of the final result, you’ll have to ask me in private.

I’m going to Clairwood today to ride Copper Parade in the Mercury Sprint. He is well handicapped but has not run since winning the Computaform Sprint. He tends to over race, and we’re drawn on the wrong side but I still hope we can succeed.

Tomorrow I’m riding at Turffontein where racing takes place on the standside track. In Race 1 Voluptious Lady looks the right one with the danger Endearing. She has only had one start and did not finish too far behind. They should fight it out unless there is a good first timer

In Race 2 I will be banking Jock Silverstein in the Place Accumulator. He has placed in three out of three races but the form has not been wonderful. However, because of the poor form of the others, he is a banker.

I ride Eight Stories. I galloped him a couple weeks ago and he does not give the feel that he will win a sprint and that adds to my confidence about Jock Silverstein.

In Race 3 my first pick was Carla The Rebel but it is not solid form so for that reason I’m including Blue’s Romance and Jay River. For the Pick 6 others to consider are Lucky Mojo and Emearg, who tired last time off a slow pace.

I’m riding Devious Tiger in Race 4. I’m quite surprised he’s short in the betting as even though the horse who won that last race, Fire Horse, came and won his next start, Master Banker, who is 14-1, finished ahead of us.

That is quite weak for which is why I’m leaning towards Battle In Seattle, Corallo Sardo, Inala and Argomento. For the PA choose any three and put all four into the Pick 6.

I ride Sarasota in Race 5 and I’m surprised to see she has shortened in the betting. I feel 1160m is too short and the fact she’s having her third run in the space in less than two-and-a-half weeks after a rest tells me she will battle.

I would banker Shepard One in the Place Accumulator. I would consider her a Pick 6 banker but she hasn’t run for some time and I’m unsure about her wellbeing. Others I would consider are La Tigresse, Margot On Stage and Saint Angelique. If Majestic Missile strides out this time she could be a huge runner.

In Race 6 I ride Tiger Play. His form is not good enough and I’m just hoping for some improvement. Only two horses can win this race and I would consider banking Rocco’s Luck in the PA. If The King And I comes to his best form he would be the only danger. Rocco’s Luck has had some bad draws in the past and seems to run well off a fast pace so should benefit from the numerous frontrunners in this race.

In Race 7 I’m on She’s A Looker who could place but is held on form. In fact, another banker in all bets on form is Featherfoot. Last time she had a bad draw and raced wide yet won impressively. Even though she did get a penalty for winning, she has a 2.5kg claiming apprentice on top which should be a huge advantage. She looks the best bet on the card and is trading at 5-2.

In Race 8 I ride Perfect Winter. She’s held on form and seems to battle over 1600m. This is quite a moderate bunch of fillies and I normally find it difficult to find a winner. The ones I like, in order of preference, are Terra Marianna, Bermuda Bowl, Stylish Bay and Cassia. Those should suffice for the PA and possibly even the Pick 6.