Picture: 123RF/Chris Van Lennep
Picture: 123RF/Chris Van Lennep

Those racing fans who had pencilled in the 2021 Vodacom Durban July as a must-go event are in for a big disappointment. For the second year running, SA’s most famous race will be run behind closed doors.                                 

With over three months to go before the July 3 date of the race, it was reasonable to believe vaccines will have been administered countrywide by then, but the decision to have a spectatorless event has been made.

Steve Marshall, events and marketing executive of Gold Circle, tried to put a positive spin on the race. He said: “Horseracing, fashion and entertainment are the core elements which make up this spectacular event and — even though we don’t have the public at Hollywoodbets Greyville again this year — we will deliver an event befitting of the 125th running of this famous race.

“We are able to call on our experience of the first major behind-closed-doors events last year and having a title sponsor in Vodacom, with whom we are celebrating our 20th year, to partner with us through these challenging times.”

What will delight punters is that the 2,200m race looks like attracting a top-class field. The first entry date is April 14 and the nominations are expected to include 2020’s winner Belgarion, runner-up Got the Greenlight, Met winner Rainbow Bridge, Golden Ducat, as well as talented three-year-olds Malmoos, Linebacker, Kommetdieding, War Of Athena and Captain’s Ransom.

In early betting, Kommetdieding and Got The Greenlight are quoted co-favourites at 7-1 with Belgarion and Captain’s Ransom both at 17-2.

Turffontein hosts an eight-race programme on Thursday and the most valuable racehorse on show is unquestionably In Limbo, making the fourth appearance of her career in the fifth race. This Mike de Kock inmate is a half-sister to Met winner Rainbow Bridge and a full-sister to Hawwaam, who has been sent overseas.

The three-year-old is owned by Bridgit Gerber, wife of popular owner and businessman Chris Gerber who died in October 2018. De Kock was among many who were devastated at that time so he will be extra keen that In Limbo does well for the family.

In Limbo has two strong points in her favour on her handicap debut — a low mass of 52kg and top jockey Muzi Yeni in the saddle.

The pick of the opposition is likely to be Candice Dawson’s filly Sultanah and Corné Spies’s four-year-old Impressive Duchess.

Trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren has sent out 33 winners this season and Celestial Love should add to that tally when the What A Winter filly takes on eight rivals in the seventh race. The three-year-old has raced five times for two wins and three seconds.

The market will be worth a check regarding Paul Peter’s runner Anne Boleyn, who returns from a 13-week break. The filly has won three of her 11 starts.

Cash Time has been more a friend to bookies than to punters with four seconds in his last five outings. The six-year-old tries to end that frustrating sequence in the second race, which has attracted a modest field.

SELECTIONS

1st Race: (10) Sophia’s First (1) Twin Turbo (3) Sitting Bull (2) Confessor

2nd Race: (1) Cash Time (4) Call Me Master (3) Gold Griffin (8) So Long Spring

3rd Race: (2) Kool Baikal (6) Senescence (4) Twice The Act (3) The Brass Way

4th Race: (5) Contrail (1) Golden Spoon (7) Diamonds N Dollars (6) Twice The Surge

5th Race: (11) In Limbo (4) Sultanah (5) Impressive Duchess (6) Bella Rosa

6th Race: (1) Lyrical Dance (6) Soul Of Wit (8) Un Deux Trois (3) Louvain

7th Race: (6) Celestial Love (3) Anne Boleyn (7) Run April Run (5) Thumbs Up

8th Race: (12) Lagertha (4) Full Velocity (3) Emerald Crest (5) Bella Black

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