The first light of dawn on Thursday saw racing enthusiasts flocking to Greyville racecourse to watch the contenders for South Africa’s headline race, the Group 1 Vodacom Durban July(2200m), go through their paces at the official gallops. The traditional coffee and sticky buns kept the morning chill away as they waited to see their fancies in action.
Vettel and Ilha Bela(grey) at the Vodacom Durban July Gallops, picture Liesl King
Top weight Pierre Jourdan was first out and the people’s horse did not disappoint, putting in an eye-catching gallop under race rider Robbie Fradd. With the two reserve runners withdrawn, Pierre Jourdan now jumps from barrier 13.
English Garden from the Mike Bass stable put in a strong gallop in the early dawn. Bernard Fayd’Herbe partnered the gelding, who jumps midfield from barrier nine.
The Mike De Kock duo of Vettel and the filly Ilha Bela galloped together, with Anton Marcus on Vettel and stable jockey Anthony Delpech, doing the honours on Ilha Bela.
IlhaBela is the second favourite in the antepost betting, with a light weight of 53kg, while Vettel is third favourite; with 53.5kg. The draw, however, is not in Ilha Bela’s favour and the mare jumps from barrier 19.
Last out on the course on Thursday was the Brett Crawford trained pair of Jackson, the current Vodacom Durban July favourite, and Polar Bound.
KarisTeetan, Jackson’s regular rider, was impressed by the performance of the burly colt. Teetan commented that the gallop will bring him on and that he will be spot on for the Vodacom Durban July.
With the Vodacom Durban July gallops being a condition of entry, Smanjemanje and Eton Square, who have not yet departed from their Johannesburg base, galloped on Wednesday, with their efforts being recorded and shown on course.
The R3 million, Group 1 Vodacom Durban July will be run over 2200m at Greyville on the 7th of July at 16.20 SAST.