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By Mike Moon

Horse racing correspondent

Durban July drama and excitement cranks up – here’s what you need to know

Here are some of the latest developments before this weekend's Durban July excitement.

As the clock ticks down to the start of the Hollywoodbets Durban July at Greyville on Saturday, there have been some dramatic news developments:

  • Zapatillas was withdrawn from the race. The Brett Crawford-trained three-year-old colt was the recent winner of the KwaZulu-Natal Guineas and a July “dark horse” among pundits at 20-1 in the betting.
  • First reserve runner Airways Law was drafted into starting line-up – just an hour before the deadline for reserves to make the cut. Andre Nel’s four-year-old – one of the most improved horses in training –inherits Zapatillas’s excellent No 6 starting gate draw. The gelding slotted in at 18-1 in the betting market.
  • Up-and-coming jockey Serino Moodley has been booked to replace the unfortunate Rachel Venniker on 75-1 outsider Red Saxon. Venniker, due to be the first female to ride in the July, was concussed in a tumble from a horse in a race on Monday and stood down from riding for two weeks.
  • Aragosta, trained by Mike de Kock has been the subject of a betting plunge in recent days – shortening from 16-1 to 9-1. This flood of money for the SA Derby champion has seen another De Kock runner, Sparkling Water, the only filly in the race, drift from 6-1 to 12-1. Also on the drift has been dual Queen’s Plate winner Jet Dark, who has gone from 15-1 to 20-1.
  • The favourite on bookmakers’ boards remains De Kock’s Safe Passage at 4-1. Also unchanged in the market are Linebacker at 5-1 and Pomp And Power at 7-1 – positions two and three.

Also Read: Your essential guide on what to pack for the Durban July

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