The 2020 Vodacom Durban July race meeting was staged behind closed doors, but even if there had been 50,000 fans in Greyville’s vast grandstands on Saturday there would have been a hushed silence after race 8, the Garden Province Stakes, the supporting feature event.
On a day of many upsets, Temple Grafin, starting at 40/1, landed the Grade 1 prize and delivered another body blow to punters.
The result of the July, with second-favourite Belgarion winning, provided very brief respite for punters.
The Garden Province – one of South Africa’s premier filly-andmare contests – was predicted to be fought out by Celtic Sea from Sean Tarry’s Highveld yard and Clouds Unfold from Candice Bass-Robinson’s Cape Town stable.
Temple Grafin had not won since April last year.
Her subsequent form in eight runs was not bad, with a degree of consistency, but nothing to suggest she could get the better of her opposition here.
Trainer Glen Kotzen and jockey Keagan de Melo were not listening to the pundits, however. The latter positioned the four-year-old filly just off the lead from the 1,600m start.
From the jump, Celtic Sea was up front, but was then eased back as Mill Queen took it up, with Ronnie’s Candy and Pretty Young Thing chasing.
In the dash for the line, Celtic Sea looked likely to prevail as she went past the frontrunners, but Temple Grafin gave the run of her life to get home by less than a length.
Earlier, in race 5, the Grade 2 Zulu Kingdom Explorer Golden Slipper, 35/1 shot Love Bomb cruised to victory.
Most pundits had made Joburg raider Caralluma a banker in exotic bets, so many thousands of Pick 6 and first Jackpot tickets were blown away when trainer Frank Robinson’s juvenile filly held off the odds-on favourite.
Robinson has always had a high opinion of Love Bomb.
The two-year-old won on debut over 1,000m before being thrown in the deep end in the 1,200m Grade 1 Alan Robertson Classic at Scottsville, where she finished less than five lengths off the winner after a sluggish start.
The daughter of Oratorio was always going to enjoy the step up to 1,400m in this highly prestigious juvenile contest.
Jockey Sean Veale rode her in her first two outings, so knew what he had at Greyville.
He was always handy from a No 4 draw and finished nearly a length clear of Caralluma. Another two long-shots filled third and fourth slots: Jasmine (35/1) and Trickster (33/1).