The return of two Vodacom Durban July champions to the scene of their finest hours is a treat for racing fans this weekend.
Dual July victor Do It Again and 2020 winner Belgarion – both trained by Justin Snaith – will not be bumping heads at Greyville on Sunday, as was expected at one stage, as they compete in separate events ahead of another tilt at the country’s biggest race on 3 July.
Five-year-old Belgarion is an even-money favourite for the Grade 2 WSB Greyville 1900, the traditional July prep race he won last year on his glorious march of six wins in a row.
After the July, Snaith gave his hero a well-deserved four-month rest, from which he returned fresh as a bellis perennis to claim the Green Point Stakes at the start of the Cape summer season.
The rest of that season didn’t go quite as well, but Belgarion certainly made his presence felt, with a third place in the Queen’s Plate and a second in the Cape Met.
He has repeatedly proved his ability to win off a rest, so the current 106 days interregnum is of no concern and he ranks as the best bet on the Greyville card.
Interestingly, Snaith has handed the plum ride to S’manga Khumalo, not a retained rider, while stable No 1 Richard Fourie partners Crown Towers – another July hopeful, but not in the same league as Belgarion. This might be to do with securing a good showing and a July nod for Crown Towers.
Bearer of the July sash in 2018 and 2019, Do It Again was denied a third gallop of honour by just 1.50 lengths in 2020 as he ran into third, behind his stablemate and Got The Greenlight. He was then fourth in the Champions Stakes, less than a length behind the winner, then fourth and fourth again in the Queen’s Plate and the Met.
That is fabulous form for a horse entering the twilight of his career and no-one should discount Do It Again in any big race in the near future. Such as that on the 3rd of July.
Do It Again might be in a lesser race than his July-winning alumnus, but he does face tougher opposition.
Candice Bass-Robinson-trained Sovereign Spirit is an underrated performer who has had some bad luck in his career. He also comes off the inter-seasonal break but has the class to surprise the “King of Greyville”.
Vaughan Marshall’s Silver Operator has had two so-so outings since being gelded and could show the improvement his connections were hoping for when they decided to perform that unkindest of cuts.
Highveld-based trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren looks set for a profitable weekend as he sends out several horses with excellent winning chances – at Greyville and at Turffontein on Saturday.
7 Darjeeling, 3 West Point, 2 Rodriguez, 12 AJ’s Captain
11 Dawn Raider, 6 Prince Tyrion, 10 Barrington, 14 Imilenzeyokududuma
5 Shampompo Shampizi (value), 1 Gilboa, 3 Burning Wings, 11 Mashari
12 Indomavel, 7 Indigo Moon, 5 Rock Flight, 6 High Born
2 Do It Again, 7 Sovereign Spirit, 4 Silver Operator, 10 Goodtime Guy
1 Lady Of Steel, 8 Rattle Mouse, 10 Silva Magic, 2 Keep On Dancing
8 Belgarion (best bet), 7 Crown Towers, 10 She’s A Keeper, 2 Trip To Africa
7 Mr Gonzales, 8 Parktown, 3 King’s Crusade, 11 Blue Planet
3 Materio, 8 Koopa Troopa, 10 Zero Rate, 1 Let’s Go Fly
5,6,7,12 x 2,4,7 x 1,2,8,10 x 8 x 3,6,7,8,11 x 1,3,5,8,10 (R1200)
1,5 x 7,12 x 2 x 1 x 8 x 3,7,8 x 1,3,8 (R36)