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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.

SELECTION - HORIZON (19.00, Sportingbet)

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)

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