Picture: 123RF/CHRIS VAN LENNEP
Picture: 123RF/CHRIS VAN LENNEP

“There are first who shall be last and last who shall be first,” says Luke in Chapter XIII, verse 30.    

The more religious bookmaker will deem this to mean that Tristful will beat ExpressfromtheUS and Matterhorn in Saturday’s 125th running of the Vodacom Durban July at Hollywoodbets Greyville.

That would appear to be wishful thinking. The reality is that the finish is likely to be fought out by the principals in the betting market. They are Got The Greenlight, Linebacker, Rainbow Bridge, Belgarion, Rascallion, Kommetdieding and dual winner Do It Again.

Both Linebacker and Rascallion are trained by 69-year-old Vaughan Marshall, who is bidding for his first July win.

As far back as February when he ran second in the Cape Derby, this column had been advocating each-way support of Rascallion as he looked likely to be the mount of winning-most July jockey Anton Marcus.

A knee injury has sidelined Marcus for this year’s race — the 20th sponsored by Vodacom — so the mount on Rascallion has gone to Sean Veale. For those who took 4-1 a place back in February, it is hoped he will be at the top of his game on Saturday.

Rascallion is the selection to beat home stablemate Linebacker, followed by Got The Greenlight and Belgarion. Marshall, who turns 70 next month, has an outstanding chance of winning his first July.

Linebacker’s jockey Grant van Niekerk has an excellent strike-rate this term with 96 winners (up to June 22) from 434 mounts. If he gets Marshall’s runner home, the Captain Of All gelding will be following in the hoofprints of Legislate, who won the Cape Derby, KZN Guineas, Daily News and July in 2014.

Linebacker will be going 2,200m for the first time and this writer’s view is that Rascallion was enjoying the final 100m of the Daily News more than his stablemate. Both three-year-olds have favourable draws.

Got The Greenlight is a worthy favourite and, despite a wide draw, looks certain to give his supporters a great run for their money. His form this term stands up to the closest scrutiny and many racing fans would be delighted to see Muzi Yeni capture his first July.

One can also say that the big race preparations of Rainbow Bridge and Do It Again have gone without a hitch, but both have historical obstacles to overcome. No six-year-old has won since Johnny Nicholson saddled Beau Art to win in 1980, and no horse has won the race three times.

Trainers Harold Crawford and Michelle Rix must have cursed when Kommetdieding drew the widest gate, but Gavin Lerena has the talent to overcome this disadvantage. The big question is whether the colt will stay 2,200m, which he is trying for the first time.

As pointed out in Business Day on Thursday, last year’s winner Belgarion might do better than many expect and a top-four finish is a distinct possibility. One has to like the fact that he arrives as a fresh horse, having contested only three races in 2021.

The country’s two top jockeys, champion Warren Kennedy and champion-elect Lyle Hewitson, have stayed loyal to their stables and we will see whether this is a bridge too far for She’s A Keeper. Bookies believe it is, quoting the filly at 25-1.

So who is the best outsider who might cause a huge upset? Tyrone Zackey has tread this path before and will be hoping for a top-six finish from Johnny Hero, but the joker in the pack could be Crown Towers. The Aussie-bred has found his best form in the past two months.

The supporting feature — the grade 1 Garden Province Stakes — is being billed as the best race of the meeting and is considered a match between War Of Athena and Captain’s Ransom. Though this column’s vote goes to the latter, it might not be a bad idea to take a few exactas coupling Princess Calla with the two fancied contenders.

Some talented juveniles go to post in the grade 2 Golden Horseshoe in which win and place support of Gallic Chief — stablemate of She’s A Keeper — is advised. The Vercingetorix gelding will love the step up to 1,400m, but a wide draw is a serious concern.

All of Castletown, Waterberry Lane, Good Traveller, AJ’s Captain, Twice The Trip and Rollwiththepunches enter the equation so the trifecta should pay well. Roving Gallic Chief with these six runners will cost R90.

Earlier in the meeting, War of Athena’s stablemate, Winter Renegade, looks another good mount for Yeni and, provided he can also overcome a wide draw, Hewitson has a big shout on William Robertson in the second.

Punters should save some loot for Candice Dawson’s runner Approach Control in the last race on the card. The Randjesfontein trainer has ended this meeting with a winner for the past two years.

Greyville selections

Durban July 

1 (6) Rascallion

2 (7) Linebacker

3 (14) Got The Greenlight

4 (11) Belgarion

Garden Province

1 (13) Captain’s Ransom

2 (1) War Of Athena

3 (9) Princess Calla

4 (6) Chat Ching

1st Race, BSA Sales Cup

1 (2) Winter Renegade. 2 (12) Big Burn. 3 (5) One Night In Paris. 4 (11) Juliet Tango.

2nd Race: Bloodstock SA Sales Cup

1 (13) William Robertson. 2 (6) Bard Of Avon. 3 (8) Captain Lannister. 4 (3) Gaudis Masterpiece.

3rd Race: Hollywood Bets 2200

1 (10) Silver Host 2. (9) Black Knap. 3 (11) Flying Carpet. 4 (12) Tree Tumbo.

4th Race: Gold Vase

1 (7) Smoking Hot. 2 (5) Dream Destiny. 3 (3) Nebraas. 4 (16) Bayberry.

5th Race: Golden Slipper

1 (8) Desert Miracle. 2 (3) Kailene. 3 (1) Maryah. 4 (5) Eastern Belle.

6th Race: Golden Horseshoe

1 (14) Gallic Chief. 2 (4) Castletown. 3 (8) Waterberry Lane. 4 (2) Cavalier King.

9th Race: Post Merchants

1 (3) MK’s Pride. 2 (9) Captain Tatters. 3 (11) Singforafa. 4 (2) Ultra Magnus.

10th Race: Compendium Insurance

1 (9) Approach Control. 2 (8) Silver Operator. 3 (12) Native Tongue. 4 (1) Cat Daddy.

Durban July betting

(Supplied by bookmaker Lance Michael)

28-10 Got The Greenlight

4-1 Linebacker

11-2 Rainbow Bridge

8-1 Do It Again, Rascallion

11-1 Belgarion

12-1 Kommetdieding

28-1 She’s A Keeper

33-1 Sovereign Spirit

45-1 Cirillo, Crown Towers

50-1 Nexus

66-1 Others

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