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On July 7 2012, Brett Crawford left Greyville racecourse a disconsolate man. His fancied Durban July runner, Jackson, had flopped behind Pomodoro in SA’s most famous race.

Fast forward 11 years and the Harare-born trainer has a chance of success in the race on July 1 — in fact he is likely to have two strings to his bow in Zapatillas and Winchester Mansion.

Crawford was gutted when Zapatillas had to be scratched just two days before 2022’s July after sustaining a fetlock injury. The colt returned to action in December.

Though Zapatillas never threatened the imperious Charles Dickens in Saturday’s Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge, the four-year-old finished a creditable third — beaten three lengths — to throw his hat firmly in the July ring.

It proved a wonderful afternoon at the Durban track for Drakenstein Stud matriarch, Gaynor Rupert, as she owns and bred Charles Dickens and is a co-owner in Zapatillas.

After Charles Dickens had notched the eighth win of his career, trainer Candice Bass-Robinson said she was unsure whether her star performer would run again this season. What we do know is that — early next year — Rupert will have a big decision to make. Will she (as Markus Jooste did with Variety Club) target an overseas race or keep the son of Trippi at home?

King’s Plate winner Al Muthana produced another big effort to secure the second cheque of R350,000. It took the career earnings of the Australian-bred gelding over R3m.

Durban July supporters of Cousin Casey, Rascallion and Safe Passage will not be feeling confident after the trio all failed to place in Saturday's grade 1 contest.

The decision to put blinkers on Cousin Casey appeared to backfire with last season’s top juvenile pulling his way to the front before predictably falling away in the straight to finish last of the 10 runners and nine lengths behind the winner.

The unhappy season for the son of Vercingetorix continues and bookmaker reaction was to extend his price to 16-1 for the July.

Rascallion — Business Day’s long-range tip for the July — finished sixth (beaten four and a half lengths) and told us little about his big-race prospects. It can be argued that it was the second run after a break though he now looks more like a place prospect rather than a winning one.

The same applies to Safe Passage with 2022’s July third never getting competitive and finishing just in front of Rascallion. Punters will not be falling over themselves to take the 12-1 on offer for the July.

Gaynor Rupert’s first visit to the winner’s enclosure on Saturday came in the grade 3 Cup Trial when the Crawford-trained Winchester Mansion gained many admirers with a three lengths victory over Quasiforsure.

Crawford was thrilled with the performance of yet another son of Trippi and said: “His first run after being gelded was outstanding. He’s won with authority and he’ll be a four-year-old off bottom weight in the July and time and again this has been the right recipe.”

Kabelo Matsunyane looks likely to retain the ride for the July and he probably cannot believe he has a chance of July glory five years after riding his first winner. Matsunyane will have learnt a lot with his three-week stint with the British Racing School in 2018.

It was a question of “what a difference a week makes” for jockey Richard Fourie who after a four-timer at Scottsville, was beaten on a number of favourites including Plaza Accord, Aberdeen, Rockpool and Master Josh.

Fourie did manage to get on the board with Captain Bombshell in the Durban Dash, but his followers will have had empty pockets at the end of the meeting.

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