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With the Vodacom Durban July winners sash around his neck Kommetdieding with jockey Gavin Lerena enjoys the victors canter at Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse. Picture: SUPPLIED
With the Vodacom Durban July winners sash around his neck Kommetdieding with jockey Gavin Lerena enjoys the victors canter at Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse. Picture: SUPPLIED

No trophy for Kommetdieding at the Equus awards, but there was consolation for owner Ashwin Reynolds from Gold Circle. The KwaZulu-Natal racing operator has named his Vodacom Durban July winner its horse of the season.

Reynolds  — as well as owners in the other categories of the KwaZulu-Natal awards — have been invited to the meeting at Hollywoodbets Greyville next Monday when they will receive their prizes.

Clearly, the Gold Circle judging panel considered the Durban July as the most important race and gave the nod to the three-year-old trained by Harold Crawford and Michelle Rix. Kommetdieding — named the “people’s champion” as he is the first July winner owned by a person of colour — was preferred to Equus horse of the year Rainbow Bridge — owned by former Durban Turf Club chair Mike Rattray — Dark Jet and Linebacker.

After the Equus awards were announced Ken Nicol, editor of the Turf Talk website, said he believed the panel had erred in not giving Linebacker at least one award. Heaven knows what he thinks about the Vaughan Marshall inmate missing out again.

He said: “Linebacker was the only nominee to win two grade 1 races over those distances [middle distance] then finishing a close second to Kommetdieding in the July defeating all the older horse comfortably.

“Rainbow Bridge clearly wasn’t himself that day and Vaughan Marshall’s stalwart can count himself most hard done by [for] not receiving the middle distance accolade.

“If Marshall was of the paranoid variety he may well have been thinking that the panel had a vendetta against him when his juvenile colt Ambiorix was also snubbed for the two-year-old award in favour of Good Traveller.”

Interestingly, after the Equus winners were announced, award-winning journalist David Thistleton, who works for Gold Circle, said: “A different panel could have produced a wildly contrasting outcome. Only three categories were universally accepted and they were Champion Filly [War Of Athena], Champion Older Male [Rainbow Bridge] and Champion Sprinter [Rio Querari].”

The KwaZulu-Natal judging panel gave the middle distance category to Gareth van Zyl’s filly, She’s A Keeper. Yes, she ran out an impressive winner of the grade 2 Gold Bracelet on the final day of the season, but she finished six lengths behind Kommetdieding and Linebacker in the 2,200m Durban July.

Trainer Paul Matchett must be in a total state of confusion that his superstar filly War Of Athena, winner of the Woolavington 2000 in May and bred in KwaZulu-Natal, falls into the same category as Linebacker and is trophyless in the province.

It is worth recalling the editorial comment in Sporting Post on the eve of the Equus awards when a poll it conducted gave War Of Athena 45% of the vote, Kommetdieding 37% and Rainbow Bridge just 6%. The paper said: “War Of Athena’s overall exploits would make her a popular and deserved winner in our book.”

Other KwaZulu-Natal winners who will be honoured next Monday include Champion Older Filly/Mare: She’s A Keeper; Champion Sprinter: Pearl Of Asia and Champion Two-Year-Old colt: Good Traveller.

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