Picture: 123RF
Picture: 123RF

According to supporters of Hawwaam — hot favourite for Saturday's Vodacom July — there is more chance of finding Elvis Presley dishing up hamburgers on Durban beachfront than Mike de Kock's three year-old not winning SA's most famous race.

For weeks now, Hawwaam has been the centre of attention for both punters and bookmakers and his latest Longines rating of 120 puts him in 13th place in the world rankings for three-year-olds.

One has to say, Hawwaam ticks all the boxes for a fifth July winner for De Kock following Ipi Tombe (2002), Grey's Inn (2004), Bold Silvano (2010) and Igugu (2011).

The race could also provide top jockey Anton Marcus with his sixth July success and it is worth recounting his opinion after Hawwaam's win in the Premier's Challenge.

“I’m lost for words — that was really impressive,” Marcus said, while De Kock has described him as “a horse who wants to be boss”.

Nevertheless, Do It Again was this column’s selection 12 months ago and it is hard to desert him following a troublefree preparation for the race.

Justin Snaith is bullish his charge can land back-to-back wins (“we’ll see how Hawwaam gets on taking on the best older horses”) and jockey Richard Fourie would like to win the race with no assistance from the stewards. Legislate won the race four years ago on an objection.

Barahin gives the De Kock stable strong back-up in the race and the legendary trainer has told the media he expects a “massive” run from his other three-year-old.

Yes, Barahin was impressive when winning the Jubilee at Turffontein, but the opposition is a different kettle of fish this time and the view here is that he is unlikely to beat his stablemate.

Despite his Sun Met triumph, Rainbow Bridge is not attracting a lot of attention in the ante-post market, something that will not bother trainer Eric Sands one iota. With Marcus opting for Hawwaam, he has had to find a new pilot, but in Gavin Lerena he is settled on a guy who will give owner Mike Rattray every chance of a first July success.

If the betting is to be believed, only four horses — Hawwaam, Do It Again, Rainbow Bridge and Barahin — can win the race. It might pay to box this quartet in the exacta as this bet often pays well in big races.

Is there a runner who can come to the rescue of the bookies? Doubtful. The best outsider might be Sean Tarry’s filly Return Flight who will bid to give owner Chris van Niekerk a third win in this race.

Legendary trainer Terrance Millard is on record as saying you need “a mile and a half horse to win the July” and, as an Oaks winner, Return Flight falls into that category.

Lady In Black has been placed in the Woolavington 2,000 which is presumably why Dennis Drier has opted to take his chance with his talented filly. While she could not be in safer hands, there has to be a chance of her running out of gas over the final 200m.

So in the final analysis we look set for a nail-biting finish and Do It Again is taken to become a rare back-to-back winner by beating home Hawwaam, Rainbow Bridge and Return Flight.

Betting (supplied by bookmaker Lance Michael)
2-1 Hawwaam
4-1 Do It Again
6-1 Rainbow Bridge, Barahin
11-1 Eyes Wide Open
13-1 Twist Of Fate
18-1 Made To Conquer
25-1 Head Honcho, Legal Eagle
40-1 Divine Odyssey
50-1 Tilbury Fort
66-1 Others

Durban July
1 Do It Again
2 Hawwaam
3 Rainbow Bridge
4 Return Flight

Garden Province
1 Oh Susanna
2 Front And Centre
3 Celtic Sea
4 Snowdance

Gold Vase
1 Strathdon
2. Walter Smoothie
3. Filichity By Farr
4. Sunshine Silk

Greyville 2200
1. Charles
2 Bunker Hunt
3 Zilzaal
4 Dark Moon Rising

Golden Slipper
1 Cavivar
2 Miss Florida
3 True To Life
4 Gabor

Golden Horseshoe
1 Invidia
2 Eden Roc
3 Aqua Delta
4 Enjoy The View