JACK MILNER: JOCKEY Karis Teetan will be the man in the hot seat in Saturday’s Vodacom Durban July. Teetan is aboard 2-1 favourite Jackson and has the unenviable job of trying to win the R3-million race over 2200m at Greyville from No 16 draw.
“Karis is on a hiding to nothing,” said champion trainer Mike de Kock, who trains four of Jackson’s opposition. “If he races four horses wide and wins, everybody will say ‘what a great ride’. But if he races four horses wide and loses, then they will all be saying ‘what a lousy ride’.”
Brett Crawford, who trains Jackson, chuckled when he heard the remark. “That’s the nature of the beast and that’s what Karis has got to rise up and face. But he’s a very confident young man and that’s what I like about him
“You’ve got to have some sort of plan, but when the gates open it can all change. We can only give him guidelines to follow but, in the end, it’s him.”
Most pundits agree Jackson is the best horse in the race and it will be a matter of how Teetan manages to deal with draw. The son of Dynasty has done little wrong. He has raced seven times and is only two losses came on debut and a second place behind “super miler” Variety Club in the KZN Guineas.
He has won two Grade 1 races over 2000m – the Investec Cape Derby at Kenilworth and the Daily New 2000 at Greyville – and will have no problems with the course or distance. Crawford feels he still has Jackson at his peak, despite having won the Daily News 2000 just five weeks back.
“To win any Group 1 race you have to be at your peak. He was fit and well for the Daily News and won very easily. We’ve done a lot of work in between and he certainly hasn’t tapered off.
“He is top class and I don’t think any of us knows what he is capable of. From my side he’s spot on. We just need a clean race and, of course, you always need in a little bit of luck.”
However, there are 19 runners raring to take him on. Best of those could be Mike Bass’s English Garden. He finished third in last year’s race and is bigger and stronger this year. Most importantly, according to assistant trainer Robert Fayd’Herbe, the stable is satisfied that the Camden Park gelding has overcome his bleeding problem.
“I’m confident we’ve fixed it. I can almost guarantee he won’t bleed. He’s not even coughing after his races these days,” said Fayd’Herbe.
He also confirmed that his brother, Bernard, who will be riding the horse, will ride at the carded weight of 56.5kg. “He’s got a kilo to go and he’s looking great, so he will make it.”
English Garden has had two decent races in his build-up to the Durban July. He won a Progress Plate over 1800m at Greyville and then followed up with a third place behind Gold Onyx in the Cup Trial, where he was making up ground strongly at the end.
“He’s a much stronger horse than he was last year and he’s matured nicely. He seems to prefer the right-handed bend,” said Fayd’Herbe.
Bass also sends out Chesalon and Castlethorpe but Fayd’Herbe says that, in his opinion, English Garden is far superior to the other two.
De Kock saddles Ilha Bela, Vettel, Gorongosa and Solo Traveller and it is the first of those who looks the best of the quartet, despite her No 19 draw. This race has been her mission and De Kock still rates Ilha Bela the stable elect.
“I’ve discussed the race quite a bit with my jockeys. I lot depends on the first 400m. We will commit with Gorongosa and Vettel but it wouldn’t shock me to see her in front. I don’t mind leading the July. We did it with Zirconium and Forest Path in 2009 and finished second and third behind Big City Life.
“I can tell you Ilha Bela is a lot better than those two,” said De Kock.
De Kock is also expecting a good run from Gorongosa. “You know she will be running on because she wants to win,” he added.