Dave Mollett
3 minute read
5 Jul 2017
11:37 am

July needs prize boost

Dave Mollett

Hermoso Mundo can go on to win the Gold Cup.

JOYFUL. Marinaresco, ridden by Bernard Fayd’Herbe, is led into the winner’s enclosure by joint owners Marsh Shirtliff (left) and Bryn Ressell and Candice Bass-Robinson, the first woman to train a Vodacom Durban July winner. Picture: Gold Circle

A simply magnificent sporting event, but with a stake that makes us the poor re­lation of major racing countries.

There’s no escaping the fact. The R4,25 million purse for the Vodacom Durban July is an em­barrassment compared to other big races – notably another South­ern Hemisphere country, Aus­tralia.

* For the Emirates-sponsored Melbourne Cup – run on the first Tuesday in November – the stake is A$5 million (R50 million).

* For the Qatar Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe – run on the first Sun­day in October – the stake is 5 mil­lion euros (R65 million).

Then, you’ve got the Dubai World Cup in March which is in a different league at $10 million (R130 million).

In my view, the Durban July warrants a R10 million stake.

The top brass of July sponsors, Vodacom, only had to look down at the packed Greyville circuit on Saturday to feel well pleased they are involved with this famous event.

Yet the question that needs asking is this: are they putting in enough for the race that stops our nation?

If we could lure a sponsor like Emirates to this event, it would become a bigger international event with worldwide coverage. Gold Circle invited a good number of overseas press last weekend and they would make the first Sat­urday in July a must date in their calendar.

On Saturday, Messrs Bass, Green, Ressell and Shirtliff got the R2,5 million winner’s cheque with Marinaresco, but pun­dits and punters were thrown a curved ball by the four-year-old’s unplaced run in last month’s Gold Challenge.

Any form expert was entitled to think – if this horse can beat only three home in a 14-runner field, then his chance of winning the July is remote.

Presumably, the KZN stipes will take another look at the Gold Challenge to ascertain Marin­aresco was given every chance of obtaining the best possible plac­ing.

The tote return of R23 for a win is proof that punters deserted the 2016 runner-up, yet we must take our hats off to Candice Bass-Rob­inson for saddling a winner in her first season as a trainer.

While the 42-year-old has had the perfect tuition from her leg­endary father Mike Bass, who won the July three times, she still had to have her three big race charges in tip-top trim for the big day.

Al Sahem came so close to pro­viding Sean Tarry with his third July success and gets full marks for the performance as the Sil­vano colt has raced each month since the first week in March.

Edict Of Nantes was close behind in third to add another R400,000 to the big total Brett Crawford has earned for his pa­trons this season.

.Highveld trainers captured five of the 12 Greyville races with both Sean Tarry and Johan Janse van Vuuren notching doubles. Johan hit the board quickly scor­ing with Silver Class and Crowd Pleaser, but he will be disappoint­ed that both Doosra and Irish Pride failed to shape later in the meeting.