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Durban July expert betting 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.

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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 won two of his seven starts, but 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.

Elusive Silva returns to Greyville with genuine winning claims and Marinaresco is too classy to be overlooked, but this year’s renewal of the Durban July seems to revolve around the two reining Derby champions and market leaders.

Both seem very tightly matched and it’s hard to split them. However, proven stamina goes a long way in this 11 furlong sprint and AL SAHEM just edges Edict Of Nantes in that department. 

Edict was a very successful short-track sprinter before moving up in distance and was impressive when defeating Al Sahem last time out. Al Sahem too started as a seven furlong specialist, but he’s gone from strength-to-strength since stepping up over a mile. Sean Tarry may consider using a pacemaker to make this into an attritional staying battle and if those tactic work out, Al Sahem will take all the beating.

1/7/2017 Greyville Durban July Handicap selection – AL SAHEM (Sportingbet)
The Durban July is quite rightly known as “Africa's greatest race” and it never fails when it comes to drama, nerves and sheer excitement.

This year's July Durban will take place on Saturday 6 July at Greyville Racecourse with over 50,000 people expected to turn up on the day to watch the action first hand, while millions more will be watching on television.

Last year's renewal saw 20/1 shot Pomodoro get up in the final strides to pip outsider Smanjemanje (50/1) to give jockey Piere ‘Striker’ Strydom his third victory in the big race and the first for both trainer Sean Tarry and owner and breeder Chris van Niekerk.

The winner was not easy to predict and you would have needed a crystal ball to forecast the race 1-2, but those results are few and far between, thankfully, and the public and the punting community alike will be hoping for better success this time round.

As soon as the runners are known in mid-April, the search is on for the winner and the weights, which this year will be released on Tuesday 25 June, will be a huge determining factor on that score. The recent trend has been for the higher weighted horses to come out on top and it will be interesting to see how the handicapper rates this year's hopefuls.

The the traditional gallops that will take place at Greyville on Thursday 27 June will provide yet another piece to the jigsaw, and these will no doubt be analysed by the so-called experts, while you will also have your own opinions.

Nearer the time we will have previews of all the runners in the final field and of course those all-important tips, including our idea of the top four, so do please check back here – we might even put you on the winner of the 2013 July Durban!

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