Avatar photo

By Danie Toerien


Robyn Klaasen flies the ladies’ flag at Durban July

Robyn Klaasen and Rachel Venniker the lone 'fillies' in this year's Durban July

To say that the fairer sex are underrepresented in this year’s Hollywoodbets Durban July, would be somewhat of an understatement.

With no fillies or mares declared to face the starter, the first time in 45 years, it is only trainer Robyn Klaasen and jockey Rachel Venniker who will fly the feminine flag come the greatest race on the African continent.

Only two women trainers have managed to take the honours in the July – Candice Bass-Robinson in 2017 with Marinaresco, and Michelle Rix, along with her father Harold Crawford, in 2021 with Kommetdieding.

ALSO READ: Rachel Venniker making Durban July history in ‘just another race’

When it comes to the jockeys, Venniker will be making history as the first woman to ride in the July.

While Klaasen’s solitary runner, Purple Pitcher, was quoted at 25-1 on Thursday by World Sports Betting, the trainer believes he is much better than that.

“I believe he is much better than that,” said Klaasen earlier this week, “but I can’t say exactly how much better.”

The three-year-old colt has had nine runs for the Klaasen-yard, winning seven, including the Grade 1 SA Classic and Grade 1 SA Derby.

“I think he’s a huge runner. Obviously, his Jubilee Stakes run could have been a little bit better, but he needed that run. He was given a long break after the Derby and I didn’t want to kill him in the Jubilee. It was a prep run to bring him on for the July.

“He has come on nicely from that. He is doing extremely well and I am very happy with him.”

ALSO READ: See It Again returns to put the record straight

Although Purple Pitcher finished fourth in the Grade 2 Gauteng Guineas, Klaasen is quick to explain that the Guineas was not his main goal. It was a prep run ahead of the Classic and Derby. The two Grade 1 victories also saw Purple Pitcher’s merit rating climb from 114 to 120 – enough to qualify for the July.

“I think we have managed to keep it (his rating) low enough so that he doesn’t have to carry a ridiculous weight in the July.”

Klaasen is also pleased to see her runner jump from gate No 8.

“I’m very happy. I think we can stay out of trouble. Often times, the whole field can swoop around you if you miss the break on the inside. He will be nicely in the middle. He wants to race handy, so he should be able to get there easily from the draw. He’s not drawn too wide where he will have to do too much.

“I think he’s been a little bit underrated, but we will see on Saturday.”

The only concern is that Purple Pitcher has not been exposed to the Greyville track. In fact, he has only raced on the Highveld.

“That is the only concern. He has not travelled. We are taking him down on Thursday.”

Venniker is now set to ride Hluhluwe, who replaced her earlier mount Without Question, for trainer Justin Snaith.

Read more on these topics

Durban July horseracing

For more news your way

Download our app and read this and other great stories on the move. Available for Android and iOS.