Our expert tipster picks out his best bet in Saturday's Durban July and explains why he is feeling confident ahead of the famous race.
South Africa hosts its premier horse racing event this weekend when the Durban July Handicap is contested at Greyville Racecourse over a distance of one-mile-and-three-furlongs for three-year-olds and older. The race is routinely run on the first Saturday of July since its introduction in 1897 and brings South African racing to the forefront of the nation’s sporting calendar.
Favourite for this year’s renewal of the Durban July is Bela Bela for trainer Justin Snaith. This three-year-old filly impressed many when comfortably winning the Group One Woolavington 2000 at Greyville in May. The daughter of Dynasty travelled and quickened in a smart manner that day to catapult herself to the top of the Durban July betting. She heads to the race this weekend with plenty of improvement still left in her and connections are predicting another bold showing. The filly will receive weight from the majority of her rivals and looks to have fantastic claims from a low draw.
Handler Snaith also boasts another significant runner in the form of Black Arthur. The three-year-old colt was a beaten favourite when fourth in the Investec Cape Derby at Kenilworth in January. It was a showing that somewhat disappointed his trainer, though the performance was put down to a tough race in the Politician two weeks earlier. Now freshened up, Black Arthur is expected to put his best foot forward on Saturday over Greyville’s 11-furlongs following a successful racecourse gallop before the Woolavington recently.
Marinaresco finished ahead of Black Arthur in third position in the Cape Derby and is sure to improve for the extra furlong in the Durban July this weekend, though his draw in 19 in most unfavourable. He will need plenty of luck in-running to win from such a wide stall.
None the less, it is top-weight FRENCH NAVY that warrants support at around the 13/2 mark to add the Durban July this weekend to his Daily News 2000 victory last season. The four-year-old gelded son of Count Dubois was a huge eyecatcher when running on strongly over one-mile in the Rising Sun recently to finish a close third behind Mac De Lago. It was the perfect prep-race for French Navy who showcased he retains all of his ability from last year, and heads to Greyville on Saturday in fine heart.
The 1m3f distance looks tailor-made for a horse of his style and the draw in four will greatly improve his winning claims. A fine victory in the Grade One Daily News 2000 last May provided evidence that French Navy is an elite contender for races of this nature, and the anticipated strong pace looks ideal for the gelding who is expected to be produced fast and late.
Market support in recent days suggests there is plenty of confidence behind French Navy and trainer Sean Tarry is hopeful his stable-star can improve upon his sixth-place finish in last year’s renewal.