If a market was to be formed on the “first jockey to ride five Durban July winners”, don’t hesitate for a minute – get your money on Anthony Clay Delpech.
There are three jockeys currently riding who have notched up four Durban July triumphs – Anthony, Anton Marcus and Piere Strydom. The trio will be out to make racing history at Greyville on 1 July.
Following a chat with Anthony at Turffontein last Saturday, I’ve been forced to add another horse to back ante-post for the July and his name is Black Arthur.
I asked Anthony if it was true he would ride the Justin Snaith inmate, who was the big talking horse for last year’s race but ran unplaced.
“Yes, that’s the plan at present. The horse is working up a storm,” he responded.
I asked: “But what about your contract to ride for Mary and Jessica Slack – they’ve got Nightingale (on whom he won the Klawervlei Majorca Stakes) in the entries?”
The respose: “It’s not usually the policy of Mary and Jessica to run their top fillies in the July – I doubt Nightingale will run.”
As he walked away, the popular KwaZulu-Natal-based jockey turned and said: “You’d better get on now, Molly – he’s 25-1.”
Of course when I eventually got round to checking Black Arthur’s price yesterday morning, those odds were long gone. The best I could find was 12-1 and 2.64 a Place with Betting World.
Although Zodiac Ruler will have benefited from his run at Greyville last Sunday, the Snaith camp appear keen on Black Arthur, so his next race is sure to be closely monitored.
Anthony’s most recent July success came on Igugu in 2011 and that filly’s trainer Mike de Kock is also eyeing up a fifth July win. He’s hoping Heavenly Blue can follow in the hoofprints of Ipi Tombe (2002), Greys Inn (2004), Bold Silvano (2010) and Igugu.
Mike was on hand to witness a memorable day for the Slack family with Nother Russia’s win in the Princess Charlene Empress Club Stakes and he confirmed the July was the target for his Aussie-bred star Heavenly Blue.
He told me: “As things stand he should get in with around 53kg – he’ll be mighty competitive off that mark.”
Callan Murray, who rode Heavenly Blue to victory in the SA Classic, said “it would be wonderful to ride the horse in the July, but let’s get past the Derby first”.
The bookies have not been slow in working out that Heavenly Blue could carry a massively lighter weight than Abashiri last year. He is by Snitzel, whose progeny were all the rage at the recent Inglis Sale in Australia, and is the ruling ante-post favourite.
I’m already on 10-1 a Place about Ten Gun Salute, but there’s no rule about backing two or three horses in a race and Place doubles with Black Arthur at 7-2 now seems the route to take.
One person who would have been overjoyed at Jessica’s red-letter day last Saturday would have been her late grandma “Mrs O”.
She once said: “Racing is like a game of Snakes & Ladders – you’re either on the way down or on the way up.” Well, Jessica’s star is certainly in the ascendancy and her immense passion for the sport was there for all to see on Saturday.
Jessica will now be turning her focus to next week’s National Yearling Sale at Germiston (3 to 5 May) with her breeding operation Mauritzfontein sending a draft of 24 youngsters.
Interestingly, the yearlings are not all by Ideal World or Fort Wood but include the offspring of many of the top sires in the country such as Dynasty, Captain Al and Var.
Possibly their top lot will be Marinaresco’s half-brother by Ideal World. The yearling comes up for sale on the Friday. If I wasn’t a poor journo, though, I’d be buying their Judpot colt who is out of Topless Towers. They’ve named him Bangkok – does that bring back memories!
There’s usually some excellent banter in the trainers’ lounge at Turffontein and Saturday was no exception.
Clinton Binda has no qualms about voicing his opinion, nor have other regulars like Ormond Ferraris, Leon Erasmus, Robbie Sage and Paul Peter.
After the Empress Club Stakes, Justin Snaith entered the room and Clinton was on him like a lion stalking his prey.
“How you enjoying Joburg so far?” he asked.
“I’m not coming back – only for sprints,” replied Justin. “I made a mistake in not giving this filly (Star Express) a race before running here.”
But as he exited the room, the guy who does his best to match it with Sean Tarry turned and said: “By the way guys, see you in Durban.”
It was reference to the fact that he’s expecting a highly successful KwaZulu-Natal season – and he kicked off with a feature double at Greyville 24 hours later.