Robert Garner
2 minute read
7 Jul 2018
6:00 am

The big July gamble is being won by two horses

Robert Garner

African Night Sky, Do It Again and Made To Conquer might be favoured for winning Africa's biggest racing spectacle, but punters are differing.

Greyville Race Course in Durban Picture: Nigel Sibanda

Trainer Justin Snaith’s five runners are dominating the conversation on today’s Vodacom Durban July at Greyville, but meanwhile in the background two of their rivals are being backed to win small fortunes. Trainer Brett Crawford’s charge White River and Joburg raider Matador Man are both the subject of massive gambles.

White River is now as short as 9-1 third favourite, while Matador Man’s odds have tumbled from 50s to as low as 16-1.

“Matador Man is a proper money horse. He was at 50-1 not long ago but the bets just keep coming,” says Dean Finder, COO of corporate bookmaker Betting World.

“There’s also huge support for White River. He was at 16-1 but the money has come for him since the final field was announced,” he added.

It’s well known that Crawford has a huge opinion of White River, who so far has not quite lived up to his trainer’s billing. But this will be his second run after gelding and he’s sure to improve on his close fifth in a 2000m feature at Greyville in his last start.

“White River is doing very well. I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t finish in the first four,” says Crawford, who is seeking his first July victory.

He nearly won with his first runner in the race back in 2002 – his charge Angus went down a head to Ipi Tombe, who went on to attain international fame on Dubai World Cup night nine months later.

Matador Man, from the yard of reigning champion trainer Sean Tarry, was a solid third behind fellow July runners Elusive Silva and Dark Moon Rising over 1900m last time, and is weighted to turn the tables on both.

But many worry that this race’s 300m longer distance will unravel him, including his big-race jockey S’manga Khumalo, who is also concerned that the gelding is a slow starter.

“He’s always been very, very slow and trying to run on from the back in an 18-horse field isn’t easy,” said Khumalo.

African Night Sky, captain of Snaith’s five-strong July team, remains favourite at around 22-10. He is attracting steady support, as are stablemates Do It Again (second-favourite at 6.5-1) and Made To Conquer (9-1 joint third favourite), while there’s also money for 2016 SA Triple Crown hero Abashiri (10-1).

Mike Azzie, who trains Abashiri, is optimistic and said: “I have never had this horse so well.”

Those looking for a rank outsider might want to consider 40-1 shot Gold Standard, whose career has been hindered by injury. Trainer Glenn Kotzen reckons his charge is back to best.


  • See the latest TAB Win and Place payouts.
  • There will be TV coverage on SS4 from 2pm. See Form Focus for jockey Piere Strydom’s views on the July.

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