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

It is feared that load-shedding could throw a spanner in the works of wagering on the R5m Hollywoodbets Durban July on Saturday.

Tote and online betting could be disrupted seriously. 

Last Saturday there were power cuts from 2pm to 4pm. For racing fans watching channel 240, this meant they missed feature races being run at Kenilworth. The off-time for the July is 4pm.

On Friday, Business Day headlined a story saying: “Eskom pushes load-shedding to stage 4 amid unprotected strike.”

In a statement, Eskom said: “It is necessary to bolster emergency generation reserves to react to unforeseen circumstances as well as replenish emergency reserves to prepare for the week ahead.”

The tote has experienced problems in previous years, but this was down to handling a large volume of bets.

Gold Circle, the KwaZulu-Natal operator hosting the July, has been upbeat over the past 48 hours as more people may be allowed into the course as a result of the relaxation of Covid rules.

“That proof of vaccination and negative PCR tests is no longer a requirement for entry to the racecourse is most welcome and a great boost for the event,” said Stephen Marshall, marketing and events executive at Gold Circle.

“Entrance tickets at R230 are on sale at all Computicket outlets. Racegoers can look forward to a great day with a mixture of high-quality thoroughbred horseracing, exciting fashion and an incredible sporting and social experience.

“The Durban July has traditionally brought the rainbow nation together in a spirit of goodwill and excitement and — with the support of our new sponsors Hollywoodbets — this year will now be no longer different,” said Marshall.

The final July gallops took place last Thursday morning and — with many of the big race runners working on their own — what punters learnt was that their July fancy hadn’t passed away overnight!

Some pundits thought the best gallop of the morning was that of the 2021 winner Kommetdieding. Now a 12-1 chance in ante-post betting, the four-year-old has to shrug off two defeats on the highveld which shocked his loyal band of supporters.

Mike de Kock has saddled two fillies to win the race — Ipi Tombe (2002) and Igugu (2011) — and his four-year-old, Sparkling Water, will be the only female in Saturday’s race.

Sparking Water strode out well with Gold Gold Challenge winner Al Muthana and S’manga Khumalo’s mount is firm third favourite at 6-1. Khumalo won the race on Heavy Metal in 2013.

Justin Snaith will saddle five runners in Saturday’s race. One of them is Pomp And Power who dug his heels in and — rather like bad boy Charlie Sheen in Hollywood — has a temperament problem that may not improve in front of a big crowd.

In the circumstances, it is a surprise that bookmakers are not offering longer odds than 15-2 about the Vercingetorix gelding.

Trainer Vaughan Marshall — seeking his first July triumph — has announced that last year's runner-up Linebacker will sport blinkers for the first time. The headgear was not fitted for his final gallop, but the ruling second favourite strode out well with stablemate Look For Hounds.

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