Duncan Howells is one of just two KwaZulu-Natal trainers – Paul Lafferty is the other – with a runner in the Grade 1 Vodacom Durban July, so chances of a “home” win in this year’s race appear slim for the locals.
That, however, has not dispirited ginger-haired Howells, who will be bidding for a maiden July win and ninth Grade 1 success when he saddles Fiorella in the big race at Greyville today. And Howells is quietly optimistic ahead of the race.
“I’m happy with her and hopeful of a good run. She’s done little wrong, always gives 100% and continues to improve.”
He pointed out that Fiorella was competing at C-Division level earlier this season but has come into her own since finishing fourth in the Grade 1 SA Fillies Classic over 1 800m at Turffontein on April 7.
“She must have a lively chance under 53kg on that form” said Howells, who did admit that it is a tough ask of a three-year-old filly.
“The July is a rough race and she’ll need luck in running against older and male rivals to have a say, but she is on the up.
“I have healthy respect for the opposition, but my filly is smart and she goes in with a fighting chance.”
Howells is also happy to have acquired the services of veteran jockey Mark Khan to ride Fiorella. While Khan has not ridden Fiorella in a race before, Howells does not see this as a hindrance.
“He has the know-how to ride the race as he sees it.”
Fiorella is one of eight runners on the day from the stable.
“I expect all my runners to acquit themselves well.”