The question has to be asked: has it ever happened in the 125-year history of the Durban July that half the field of 18 runners are quoted at odds of 50-1 and more?

In this writer’s 49 years as a racing scribe, there is no recollection of a year when SA’s most famous race consisted of so many outsiders.

In latest betting supplied by Gauteng bookmaker Lance Michael, two runners, Cirillo and Crown Towers, are quoted at 50-1, three runners — Johnny Hero, Nexus and ExpressfromtheUS — at 55-1, Running Brave at 66-1 and Matterhorn, Shah Akbar and Tristful at 70-1.

Of course, bookmakers countrywide would love any of these nine horses to take top honours, but it is as likely as North Macedonia winning the Euro football championship.

If there is one of the nine who could shorten in the market, it is probably Tyrone Zackey’s runner Johnny Hero. The stable ran second with 40-1 long shot Smanjemanje in 2012 and the gelding has peaked at the right time, winning the recent Grade 3 Jubilee Handicap at Turffontein.

Running Brave has enjoyed an outstanding career but she has gone missing in her past two outings and finished 26 lengths behind Johnny Hero in the Jubilee. Many pundits were surprised the mare got invited by the Gold Circle panel.

Jockey Luyolo Mxothwa will be delighted to have got the nod to partner Crown Tower, even if the Aussie import is one of the 50-1 chances. It is the first time the Cape-based rider has ridden the five-year-old.

Champion-elect Lyle Hewitson appears stuck between a rock and a hard place in choosing between the Sean Tarry duo of Cirillo and Shah Akbar. The former has never won beyond 1,400m while the latter is held by Linebacker on Daily News 2000 form.

Hewitson is still under suspension for Thursday’s meeting at the Vaal where local trainer Steve Moffatt has a chance of saddling a double with Spanish Song (second race) and Opera Glass in the final leg of the jackpot.

Muzi Yeni rides Spanish Song for the first time and the Toreador filly rates an each-way chance against Amalfi Coast, Quick Run and La Fille.

Opera Glass, a R70,000 daughter of Flower Alley, has strong claims in the seventh race with apprentice Jeffrey Syster’s claim reducing the filly’s weight to 50kg. She is receiving 10kg from Paul Peter’s runner Sergei.

KwaZulu-Natal based apprentice Thabiso Gumede rode to victory at Scottsville last weekend and he will be out to impress Tarry when he partners the Visionaire gelding Dark Vision. The three-year-old is going 2,000m for the first time.

Provided he can overcome a wide draw, Gumede could take a hand in the finish in the sixth race in which he partners Gareth van Zyl’s KwaZulu-Natal raider The Silvano. The gelding is a one-time winner from seven starts.

Trainer St John Gray has a strong hand in this 1,450m contest, saddling Lets Talk and last week’s Turffontein winner Putins Promise.


(Supplied by bookmaker Lance Michael)

5-2 Got The Greenlight

9-2 Linebacker

5-1 Rainbow Bridge

15-2 Rascallion

10-1 Belgarion

11-1 Kommetdieding

14-1 Do It Again

25-1 She’s A Keeper

35-1 Sovereign Spirit

50-1 Cirillo, Crown Towers

55-1 Johnny Hero, ExpressfromtheUS, Nexus

66-1 Running Brave

70-1 Matterhorn, Shah Akbar, Tristful


1st Race: (2) Night King (1) Jet Cat (3) Maraca Ginger (4) Heart Of Harlem

2nd Race: (1) Spanish Song (6) Amalfi Coast (2) Quick Run (5) La Fille

3rd Race: (5) Belle Of Belize (4) Bella Chica (1) Love Lies (6) Zodiac Princess

4th Race: (7) Time Spirit (1) Nussply (2) Star Effect (4) Passing Shot

5th Race: (1) Two Fools Collide (4) Sophia’s First (2) Princess Thiana (3) Crusade To Royalty

6th Race: (12) Love Posy (1) Rainbow Rising (7) Lets Talk (5) Putins Promise

7th Race: (9) Opera Glass (1) Sergei (3) Rainy Season (6) Waltzing Al

8th Race: (6) Back To Black (2) Dual At Dawn (11) Funky Music (1) Stormy Winter


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