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Picture: JEFF GRIFFITH/UNSPLASH
Picture: JEFF GRIFFITH/UNSPLASH

Madonna’s Don’t Cry For Me Argentina is one of the most famous songs the artist covered, and it will be owner Laurence Wernars doing the crying if Argentinian-bred Puerto Manzano runs a place in the Hollywoodbets Durban July.

One of SA’s most successful businesspeople, Wernars will have been encouraged that Puerto Manzano could be placed at Greyville after his win in Sunday’s WSB grade 3 Jubilee Stakes at Turffontein.

Wernars was caught by surprise at the recent highveld racing awards when he received a “special award” trophy from the Racehorse Owners Association. It was recognition he deserved near the end of his most successful season as an owner.

Chatting to Wernars at the awards, it was clear that he is a realist and the chances of his Argentinian import downing the likes of Safe Passage, Linebacker and Sparkling Water are minimal. “However, the big asset for us is that he’s sure to be staying on when others have cried enough,” he said.

The most famous win by an Argentinian-bred horse in the July was El Picha’s double, in 1999 and 2000. He is one of only four horses to have won in consecutive years.

“We bought Puerto Manzano on our second trip to Argentina — Justin Vermaak [bloodstock consultant] liked him as a specimen and felt he was the best-priced yearling he had seen all year,” said Wernars.

“Our horse is out of an Orpen mare who is a fantastic broodmare sire of grade 1 horses including Private Jet in SA,” he said.

Johan Janse van Vuuren is the trainer of Puerto Manzano and Wernars believes he learnt the trade of dealing with Argentinian horses while working for Geoff Woodruff. The five-times champion won many winners with horses bred in South America.

Despite his win in the Jubilee Stakes, Puerto Manzano is a 25-1 chance with bookmaker Lance Michael. Certainly, on form, the gelding has it to do to turn the tables on the more fancied candidates.

In the Met, Puerto Manzano finished second-last behind Kommetdieding and was five lengths adrift of Al Muthana in the Hawaii Stakes. Then came a run that showed he was better than that when running second (beaten three-parts of a length) by MK’s Pride in the Horse Chestnut Stakes.

According to Turftalk, the handicappers have decided to drop Jet Dark by one point after his sixth place finish in last Saturday’s Gold Challenge at Hollywoodbets Greyville.

This means  Justin Snaith’s Queen’s Plate winner will carry joint top-weight of 60kg with Kommetdieding in the Durban July on July 2.

Mike de Kock’s Aussie import Al Muthana, winner of the Gold Challenge in the hands of Richard Fourie, has been raised three points for his victory to a rating of 125. This means he will shoulder 58kg in the July.

Linebacker, now very much back in favour with punters after his second in the Challenge, will carry 58.5kg and dual winner Do It Again will carry the same weight.

The ante-post favourite Safe Passage will carry 54.5kg and stablemate Sparkling Water 1kg less on 53.5kg. De Kock’s filly will concede 0.5kg to the fancied Justin Snaith runner Pomp And Power.


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