ROBERT GARNER: IF JACKSON doesn’t win any of the others can – that’s champion trainer Mike de Kock’s take on the R3-million Vodacom Durban July at Greyville this Saturday.
“On ability Jackson is head and shoulders above everything, especially because the race condition setting 57kg as the maximum for a three-year-old has made his task easier,” said De Kock. “It’s time that condition rule was scrapped and the race opened up. If you feel a horse has the wrong weight, you can always scratch.”
If Jackson fails to deliver De Kock reckons it’s anybody’s guess who will win. “If you take him out the picture, you can make a case for any of the others,” he said.
“What is against Jackson and my filly Ilha Bela is the draw, especially because the false rail will be set 13m out for the first six races and then cut back to 6m for the rest of the meeting. Horses with inside draws will race on fresh ground in the July, which effectively gives them a double advantage over the horses drawn badly.
“Ideally the July field should be limited to 16 runners which would reduce the impact of the draw. But it’s not and potentially this is a tough July in which to predict the winner because the two best horses are drawn badly,” he said.
De Kock, who is going for his third successive July victory after wins with Bold Silvano and Igugu, is delighted with Ilha Bela’s condition.
“She’s had an unbelievable preparation and I couldn’t be happier. She wasn’t 100% in the Woolavington and it wasn’t her fault that the riders of the horses nearest to the pace allowed Viva Maria to get too far ahead in that race. But obviously she is going to need luck from No 18 draw.”
De Kock has three other runners and gives all of them chances, especially Irish-bred mare Gorongosa, who goes for her sixth straight win.
“The July distance is too short for her and the Gold Cup is her main mission. But that said she knows how to win and has a culture of winning. Horses like that are always dangerous even when they are rising in class because they know how to win and want to win,” he said.
“Vettel has a good draw and stays well. But 2200m is not his best distance and I doubt if the weight turnaround with Jackson will be enough for him to reverse the Daily News 2000 form. Jackson won well that day.
“Solo Traveller must be a factor on his run in the Greyville 1900. He wasn’t himself in his last run, which has to be ignored.”
* Gold Circle Director of Racing Graeme Hawkins confirmed yesterday that the false rail would be reduced from 13m to 6m halfway through Saturday’s meeting. “It’s what we always do at the July meeting in order to spread the load on the track on a 12-race programme,” he said.