“Probably the most open Durban July in the last 20 years. We could get an upset similar to the Epsom Derby.” That’s the view of Gauteng bookmaker Lance Michael after Tuesday’s big-race draw put many fancied runners close to the beachfront.

Michael said on Wednesday he had narrowed the possible outcome down to four runners — Belgarion, Rainbow Bridge, Do It Again and Soqrat. “In my book, they’re all serious runners.”

What Business Day readers will want to know is Michael’s top choice as he has got it right in two big races in 2020, the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and the Sun Met. He opposed the favourite Hawwaam in both grade 1 events, which were won by Vardy and One World respectively.

“We’re in an ironic situation with Belgarion. While he’s my first selection despite a wide draw, he’s our worst result as a number of our clients took the 11-1 we offered for him to win both the Greyville 1,900 and the July,” said Michael.

And the horse he is most prepared to lay? “Without a doubt, Got The Green Light. I feel this season’s crop of three-year-olds is below par.”

What is noticeable in the ante-post market is that the price of trainer Adam Marcus’s runner Vardy has remained firm at 6-1. With stamina doubts after being beaten by five lengths by One World in the Sun Met, some pundits felt the four-year-old could drift out to double figures.

Among the longer-priced runners, there has been some each-way support for Golden Ducat, who is now quoted at 20-1. The stable companion of Rainbow Bridge has drawn in pole position.

Turffontein hosts a 10-race programme on Thursday and trainer Chris Erasmus will be hoping for better fortune than the stable experienced at the Vaal on Tuesday.

Erasmus’s sixth-race runner Green Gunston broke down halfway through the race but luckily jockey Marco van Rensburg escaped serious injury.

On Thursday, Erasmus saddles his three-year-old Follow My Path in the seventh race and the gelding, the mount of Piere Strydom, rates a solid each-way chance in a competitive handicap.

All of Sell High, Zeal And Zest, Atomic Blonde and Banha Bridge enter the reckoning, but it looks significant that Strydom prefers Follow My Path to Sell High, on whom he finished second in June.

S’manga Khumalo, who rode a double at the Vaal on Tuesday, now rides Sell High and he could also go close on the choicely bred filly Karino in the final leg of the jackpot.

Mike de Kock’s runner Fired Up is likely to start favourite after a promising comeback run, but Karino routed her rivals by eight lengths on debut and appeals as a good swinger bet in this 1,450m contest.

Former champion trainer Geoff Woodruff will be pleased with the debut run of his juvenile colt Maxiumus, who ran fifth at Thursday’s track in June. A son of Vercingetorix who cost R500,000 as a yearling, the two-year-old may have most to fear from Luke Ferraris’s mount Supreme Elevation.

Durban July betting

(Supplied by bookmaker Lance Michael)

4-1 Belgarion, Rainbow Bridge

6-1 Vardy

15-2 Do It Again, Got The Green Light, Bunker Hunt

16-1 Soqrat

20-1 Golden Ducat, Shango, Twist Of Fate

33-1 Others

Turffontein selections

1st Race: (8) Maxiumus (13) Supreme Elevation (14) The Time Is Now (1) Ancient Rome

2nd Race: (11) Spice Market (2) Gee For Go (10) Shezaglo (5) Liverpool Legend

3rd Race: (7) Gang Leader (10) Prince Alf (9) Marrakech (6) Gavs Angel

4th Race: (9) Veseo (10) Forward March (2) Nu Bell (1) Veld Flower

5th Race: (1) Hot Gossip (3) Samoa (2) Double Hearts (12) Winterdreams

6th Race: (6) Sacred Dawn (1) Romantic Era (3) Pacific Dream (4) Capjack

7th Race: (9) Follow My Path (11) Sell High (7) Zeal And Zest (8) Banha Bridge

8th Race: (10) Karino (7) Fired Up (8) Bien Venue (1) Double ‘O’ Eight

9th Race: (5) Circle Of Latitude (2) Flying High (10) Now You See Me (4) Heart Stwings

10th Race: (3) War Jewel (4) Trend Master (2) Samurai Jack (14) Piccadilly Square

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