Equus Horse of the Year Summer Pudding and Cape Met champion Jet Dark were high-profile withdrawals from the 2021 Vodacom Durban July at the first declaration stage.
No horses were added to the entry list when first supplementary entries closed at 11am on Tuesday.
This brings the number of hopefuls for remaining in South Africa’s premier horse race to 43, from the original 54 entered on 20 April.
Leading trainer Justin Snaith explained his rational for skipping the July with Jet Dark and rather targeting the 1600m Gold Challenge at Greyville.
Speaking to operator Gold Circle’s media man David Thiselton, Snaith said: “It is his 130 merit rating which is the off-putting factor for the July. I also think our next Cape Summer Season is going to be one of our best ever – so I plan to race all of my top horses not more than twice in the SA Champions Season (in KwaZulu-Natal). But if Jet Dark does something phenomenal in the Gold Challenge, we might still run him in the July.”
Jet Dark is the highest-rated three-year-old in the country at present and, as things stand, would have had to carry 56kg in the July – thus giving fellow three-year-olds like Linebacker (124) and Kommetdieding (120) 3kg apiece.
Turffontein trainer Paul Peter revealed that, after consultations with owners Jessica and Steven Jell of Mauritzfontein, Summer Pudding would bypass the July and possibly run in the Grade 2 Gold Bracelet at Greyville on 31 July. It is not clear if this will be her racing swansong but Peter did say the Summer Cup winner needed a good break.
Speaking to Sporting Post, Peter added: “It’s been a tough season for her. She has run six times, including four Grade 1s, and she also travelled to the Cape where she got sick. Jess and Steve love their horses and she’s just too valuable a filly to push hard.”
Also pulled out of the July this week were Promiseofamaster (trained by Candica Dawson), Puerto Mangano (Johan Janse van Vuuren), Legitimate (Dean Kannemeyer) and Hoedspruit (Justin Snaith).
They join Snaith’s star filly Captain’s Ransom, the Mike de Kock duo of Malmoos and Barahin, Peter Muscutt charge Baby Shooz and Fabian Habib-trained Youcanthurrylove, who were scratched a week ago.
Summer Pudding had been quoted at 16-1 for the July and Jet Dark at 40-1 and their withdrawal did not significantly affect the ante-post betting.
Rainbow Bridge shortened from 15-2 to 6-1 as punters digested his ridiculously easy win in the 1400m Drill Hall Stakes 10 days ago.
July 2020 victor Belgarion came in from 12-1 to 10-1 ahead of his KwaZulu-Natal winter season debut in the WSB 1900 this coming Sunday, 16 May.
Triple Tiara heroine War Of Athena has also attracted money and has been cut to 9-1 from 12s.
The second declaration deadline for July is 31 May and final supplementary entries must be made by 15 June – at a fee of R12,075. The weights will be published on the latter date.
Final declarations are on 21 June and the final field will be announced the following day.
Before that, Gold Circle will publish a series of July logs, indicating the likely make-up of the field at particular stages.
The runners will be galloped in public at Greyville on Thursday 24 June.