It's about time for the Durban July - a hugely popular horse race that captures the imagination of the wider public as well as hard core punters. To provoke debate, here is a brief preview of the contenders with their speed figure. Historically, it usually takes a par figure of 107 + to get the job done.
Classy FRENCH NAVY 109 is favourably weighted and has been cunningly manouvered into this spot. He enjoys Greyville having won the Daily News here in 2015, and seems teed up for a big run after a neat prep. Interbet punters have not been fast asleep - FRENCH NAVY'S odds have halved from early trade at 16's.
ABASHIRI 109 is a high class 3 year old who won the Triple Crown on the Highveld. He has been off track since a life and death struggle to win the Derby. That strenuous campaign must have taken a lot out of him, and it will be an inspired training feat to bring ABASHIRI back primed for a career best, yet he certainly has the raw ability to mix it at this level.
The filly BELA BELA 102 + is seen as a budding superstar by her astute connections, catching the eye with visually impressive victories at this course in the Fillies Guineas and Woolavington. She is one of the prime winning candidates, if coping with a rodeo-type showdown on this narrow, turning circuit.
Fellow three year olds BLACK ARTHUR 106 and MARINARESCO 105 + have similar claims on their Kenilworth clashes in January, and both have made rapid subsequent progress. They are drawn wide and will need plenty of luck coming from off the pace, but possess swift finishes with MARINARESCO (early bird trade on Interbet at 125/1) a particularly nimble athlete with instantaneous acceleration.
In form MAC DE LAGO 107 should be thereabouts at his preferred course. Based on his April run in the Champions Challenge he will find it hard to tangle with FRENCH NAVY, though.
Long-shot Cape Derby winner IT'S MY TURN'S 105 made a late thrust at RABADA (Scratched) in the Daily News. He is progressing nicely but it could prove too tough to expect him to win at this weight scale, nevertheless he must have legitimate place chances. Other improving three year olds MAMBO MIME 103, ROCKETBALL 103, SAMURAI BLADE 102 and TEN GUN SALUTE 102 might just sneak a minor share if they boost their figures.
Older gelding SOLID SPEED 100 + is versatile campaigner. He will see it out for sure, plus he can quicken up smartly, so is not a forlorn hope and worth lobbing into all plays. DYNAMIC 99 and ST TROPEZ 100 were just behind him in the Greyville 1900, but are shy on the required figures. However, DYNAMIC could be a significant pace factor racing handy from an inside gate, whilst ST TROPEZ is lightly raced so still has scope to develop.
Summer Cup hero MASTER SABINA 105 comes off some dozy runs this year whilst THE CONGLOMERATE 108 is an awkward ride who has not fulfilled earlier promise. SARATOGA DANCER 103 will need to shine up to trouble the scorer. TROPHY WIFE 105 has snuck in after RABADA'S defection. It would be startling if she threatens for the win, though she might just clunk up for a piece of the action if the race falls apart late.
Principal Contenders: FRENCH NAVY, BELA BELA, ABASHIRI, BLACK ARTHUR, MARINARESCO, SOLID SPEED.