The final classic test of the South African season for three-year-old colts and geldings is the R1 million, Grade 1 Daily News 2000 at Greyville on Saturday, June 2.
The three-year-olds have been dominant in the country’s big races in recent years and have won no less than 10 of the last 18 renewals of the R3m, Group 1 Vodacom Durban July (2200m) to be run on July 7th.
As a result, the Daily News 2000, which is open to all horses and is run on the Vodacom Durban July course, is one of the major stepping stones for potential Vodacom Durban July candidates. Past winners who went on to win the Vodacom Durban July as well, include Dancing Duel and London News.
In 2011 the honours went to the young trainer Gavin van Zyl as The Apache, under Raymond Danielson, exploded from the back of the field to snatch victory on the post by a nose from Run For It and English Garden, with a quarter length covering the first three home.
Leading the Daily News field on Saturday is the current Vodacom Durban July favourite and Cape star, Jackson, trained by Brett Crawford. The Dynasty colt burst on the scene with a scintillating win in the Group 1 Investec Cape Derby over 2000m, where he blew away a classy field including champion miler, Variety Club, to win by two lengths at Kenilworth in January.
His debut in the Champions Season in the Group 2 KRA Guineas over 1600m, saw Variety Club back at his best over his favourite distance. Jackson, however, was not disgraced in second, putting 4.25L between himself and the rest of the field.
Jackson will relish the step up in distance and will be out to cement his dominance as the top classic colt of his generation. Crawford has indicated that while his colt will take his place in the Vodacom Durban July, his ultimate aim has always been the Daily News.
At level weights, and with a merit rating eight points better than his nearest rival, he looks hard to beat. Regular pilot Karis Teetan has the ride and the colt jumps from barrier two.
Opposition is likely to come from the Sean Tarry trio of Pomodoro, Whiteline Fever and Baracah.
Pomodoro is second favourite for the Daily News and justly so. The son of Jet Master flew up late in his penultimate start in the Group 1 SA Classic over 1800m, just failing to catch the winner, Slumdogmillionaire.
He made amends in his last start when sharing the honours in the Group 1, SA Derby over 2450m with Royal Bencher. Tarry has confirmed that he is aiming the colt at the Vodacom Durban July and that the Daily News is a part of his preparation.
While Tarry hopes that Pomodoro does not earn too much of a weight penalty, his other runners Whiteline Fever and Baracah, are both outside of the top thirty and will need to shine to qualify for the Vodacom Durban July.
Royal Bencher, who dead-heated with Pomodoro in the SA Derby, is the other danger in the field. The Alec Laird trained son of Grey’s Inn has been competing in Handicaps previously and burst onto the scene in no uncertain terms in the SA Derby.
That victory catapulted him into position five on the Vodacom Durban July log and he will be another that would prefer not to acquire a weight penalty come Saturday. Juan Paul van der Merwe has the ride and the gelding jumps from barrier eight.
Breaking news on Thursday morning was the withdrawal of champion mare Ebony Flyer from the Vodacom Durban July. Her owners, Team Valor, have opted to rather run the mare in the R500 000, WFA, Group 1 Garden Province Stakes over 1600m on the same day.
The Grade 1 Daily News 2000 is race 7 at 5.20pm South African time on the ten race Greyville card.
Jackson walks out at dawn at Summerveld training centre, picture Liesl King