The house full signs went up early on Saturday as a capacity crowd of 55 000 poured in to Greyville Racecourse to watch Pomodoro (20-1) land the R3 Vodacom Durban July by a nostril from rank outsider Samanjemanje (50-1) with Chesalon (13-1) third and Eton Square (40-1) fourth. (Image: The people that filled the Gold Circle tote)
The Trifecta paid just over R16 000 and the Quartet a whopping R304 357.
Even in a depressed economic climate, punters bought into Africa’s greatest horserace with turnovers nicely up on recent years. Saftote turnover on the Vodacom Durban July alone was up 12% on last year to R44,6 million and made up 46.81% of the total turnover on the day.
Total Saftote takings on the Greyville meeting alone were up 4,65% while total turnover on the day was up 6,12%.
Gold Circle Chief Operating Office Graeme Hawkins said he was well satisfied with the results that had shown a significant increase on last year.
Winning owner Chris van Niekerk, who also bred the winner, pointed out that the marketing effort by Gold Circle had contributed to the success of the meeting. “I won’t say it was perfect but it was very good. Every newspaper I opened had big stories on the July.”
Pomodoro and Samanjemanje fought out a thrilling duel with Pomodoro overcoming a wide draw of 20 and prevailing by the narrowest of margins. After a few tense moments, jockey Piere Strydom punched the air in triumph when his number went into the frame. Trained by Sean Tarry, Pomodoro won by a short head.
Only three lengths covered the first eight horses home. This was Strydom’s third win in the race after London News and Trademark. “I looked up at the honours board before the race and saw that I hadn’t won it for some time. We are all getting on a bit,” he said.
“Piere is a master of pace and this was a phenomenal ride,” said Tarry. “There was a gaping emission from my CV and I’m glad I’ve filled it up,” he added.
Van Niekerk, who has a large string of horses under Tarry’s care, has had numerous big race winners but was mostly at a loss for words. “But I will remain a fool and buy more,” he quipped.
Favourite Jackson was most disappointing and finished with only three horses behind him. Jockey Karis Teetan said his mount had been pulling early without any cover. “I knew he was gone before we hit the straight,” he said.
For Jeff Lloyd, who flew out from Australia to try and lay his July hoodoo to rest, it was another case of third-placed blues. Riding Chesalon for Mike Bass, he hit the front with 50m to go but was unable to hold the challenges from Pomodoro and Samanjemanje. This was the ninth time that Lloyd had finished third in the race.
Earlier the Mike de Kock-trained filly Rumya finished with a rattle to deny the Corne Spies-trained Straight set in the Durban Golden Slipper but Spies and Jeff Lloyd claimed just rewards in the Zulu Kingdom Explorer Golden Horseshoe with the strapping colt War Horse who proved too good for his field.
The Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes resulted in another thrilling finish as the two top fillies in the country, Princess Victoria and Ebony Flyer, battled it out. Princess Victoria got the run of the race under a masterful ride from champion jockey Anton Marcus and got home with half a length to spare over his rival.