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The Durban July is billed as Africa's greatest and it has a long and rich history spanning three centuries, with the inaugural running taking place in 1897.

It is always run on the first Saturday in July at Greyville Racecourse over a distance of 2200 metres and the 2017 version is due to take place on Saturday July 1st.

Durban July expert guide

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.


FRENCH NAVY - 7.00 (SportingBet)

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.


FRENCH NAVY - 7.00 (SportingBet)

2016 Durban July replay

Programme Of Events

2017 July Durban is one of 12 mega-rich races to be run at Greyville on Saturday 1st July and is scheduled to start at 16:20 GMT.  

The crowd at Greyville.

Durban July history

The Durban July is one of twelve feature races run at Greyville with the action starting before midday and continues into the evening under the floodlights. Attendance on the day regularly hits 50,000 but millions more watch on television. It has been sponsored by Vodacom since 2002.

The inaugural July Durban was run in 1897 for a purse of 500 sovereigns and was won by a horse called Campanejo, who also won the 1898 renewal. Only three horses have emulated that feat since, namely Corriecrian (1907, 1908), Milesia Pride (1949, 1950) and El Picha (1999, 2000).

Pamphlet is the only horse to have regained the race, with his two victories coming in 1918 and 1920. There have been two dead-heats, most recently in 2008 when Pocket Power and Dancer's Daughter shared the spoils.

The race was originally run over a mile (approx. 1600m) but the distance was modified several times until 1970, when it was first run over its current 2200 meters.

The most successful trainer in the race's history is Sydney C. Laird with seven wins (1961, 1963, 1966, 1967, 1971, 1973, 1978), while three jockeys have won the race four times, most recently Anthony Delpech (1998, 2004, 2010 and 2011).

Racing on Durban July day.


Over the course of the last ten years South African horse racing has taken giant leaps forward and has become one of the most popular sports in the country.

Paddy Power are the latest firm to offer their customers live streaming coverage of South African racing and you can enjoy the thrills and spills from their best meetings live online.

With at least one race meeting a day, South African horse racing is worth following for the premier event of their year alone, the exhilarating Durban July Handicap at Greyville racecourse.  The Durban showpiece has a decorated history and was first run in 1897, making it one of the most prestigious sporting events on the South African calendar.

Equally, the Summer Cup, held at Turffontein Racecourse in Johannesburg, and The J & B Met, which is held at Kenilworth race track in Cape Town are both huge sporting occasions and are gambled on accordingly.

In the past decade South African horseracing has learnt to enjoy incredible success on the global stage.  After Colorado King and Hawaii made the trip from the South Africa to the United States in the 1960s, their success was well-documented and Hawaii’s spell as a sire stamped South Africa’s print firmly on global racing.

Sensational South African raiders London News, Horse Chestnut and Victory Moon have gone a long way to putting South African racing on a level playing field with the rest of the world and trainer Mike De Kock has enjoyed great success from Dubai to England with his stable of native superstars.

Head to Paddy Power now and watch South African racing live online.

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