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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 takes a look through the ante-post betting for South Africa’s most famous handicap and selected a prime contender who could leave Greyville as the 2017 Durban July champion.

SELECTION - HORIZON (19.00, Sportingbet)

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There are many famous handicap contests all over the world, but down in South Africa, the Durban July Handicap is the most prestigious. Greyville Racecourse has staged this Group 1 contest on the first Saturday of July every year since 1897 and to claim victory in this historic race is the pinnacle of any trainer or jockey’s career.

Australian trainer Joey Ramsden claimed a shock victory in this race last season, when 20/1 shot, The Conglomerate beat Marinaresco to this much-sought-after title. The five-year-old had failed to win in eight starts prior to his stunning victory here at Greyville. He’s failed to claim another victory since, with sixth place his best finish in his last four appearances, so it would be a huge shock once again if he retained his title in this high-quality field.

Marinaresco was touted as a leading player in the Sun Met earlier in the year, but he could only manage fifth as Whisky Baron claimed that lucrative title. Since his runner-up finish here, he has only won two of his seven starts and an eleventh place finish on his most recent outing doesn’t inspire too much confidence. 

Fourth placed It’s My Turn finished eighth in his first appearance of the year in the Sun Met. He carried a price of 15/2 to post with him last year and if he can recapture the form of his stunning maiden victory last season, he could improve on last year’s finish.

Sean Tarry claimed back-to-back Durban July titles in 2012 and 2013, so it’s no surprise to see his three-year-old, Al Sahem leading the way in the betting. The Silvano progeny has won three of his six career starts to date. They have all come Group 1 company and he is yet to finish outside the top two places. He beat Greyville rival, Pagoda over a mile-and-a-half to win the South African Derby last month, so there is no doubting he has the speed and stamina to win a handicap of this calibre.

Edict Of Nantes also has a Derby title to his name this season, after Frankie Dettori ventured to South Africa to ride the 11/2 shot to victory in the Cape Derby at Kenilworth in January. Brett Crawford’s charge got the better of Al Sahem when they clashed horns in the Daily News 2000 earlier this month, but the gap between the two will be much shorter over this longer trip.

Justin Snaith landed a maiden Durban July title three years ago and he will be hoping Elusive Silva can continue his impressive form around this track. He’s trod the turf here at Greyville on all three of his most recent runs, claiming solid victories on two of those occasions. His only defeat came on soft ground, but if the going comes up favourable, he could be a danger.

Black Arthur struggled to a seventh place finish in this contest last season, after bringing some excellent form with him to Greyville. Five more uninspiring appearances have followed and it’s hard to see him returning to winning ways in this company.

Well-bred four-year-old, Ten Gun Salute ended a long winless run on his last outing here at Greyville. He has struggled when stepping up over 10 furlongs, but that victory could serve as a much-needed shot of confidence.

Mr Winsome finished third behind Ten Gun Salute here at Greyville last month. Two impressive wins, over the same trip he will tackle in this contest, sandwich that third place finish, but his record at Greyville doesn’t make for pleasant reading.

It’s proving impossible to split the favourite at the head of the market, despite Edict Of Nantes’ victory in the Daily News 2000. Proven stamina goes a long way in this 11 furlong sprint and Al Sahem just edges Edict Of Nantes in that department. However, Al Sahem has been handed a horrible draw in barrier one and if he fails to get off to a fast start, he’ll have a lot of ground to make up on his fellow favourite, who’s handily placed in barrier 13.

Besides the favourites, there is plenty of value to be found further down the betting. Mr Winsome returns to Greyville with plenty of appeal, but the selection for this year’s Durban July will be HORIZON.

After several good quality wins over a mile, Candice Bass-Robinson pushed her colt up in trip in the Cape Town Derby, where the three-year-old went to post as the odds-on favourite. He was handed a tricky draw in barrier one and struggled from his position on the rail, eventually passing the post four lengths behind Edict Of Nantes in fifth.

The Dynasty progeny returned to action with a six furlong victory, before facing off against his Cape Town Derby conqueror and Al Sahem for the first time in the Daily News 2000. As the Durban July favourite battled for that title, Horizon made smooth progress through the field, finishing third and proving he had the speed and stamina to challenge in a Group 1 of that stature.

For many years, a high draw at Greyville was considered a major disadvantage. The camber on the track has lessened over recent years and with it, the draw bias has waned. All five of the first five over the line in last year’s renewal were drawn in barrier 12 or higher.

Horizon is placed neatly in barrier 17 and he will carry the least weight with him to post, having been burdened with just 8-5. His jockey, Richard Fourie won this race in 2014 and if Horizon runs the race he is capable of, he could perform well above his current odds.

SELECTION - HORIZON (19.00, 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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