South Africa’s richest graded stakes race, the R5 million Gr1 Hollywoodbets Durban July, has attracted a high-quality capacity field of 18 plus two reserves for the 126th renewal, which will be run at Hollywoodbets Greyville on Saturday, July 2.
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The return clash of the 2021 top two, Kommetdieding and Linebacker, is just one of the many exciting sub-plots in what looks to be a vintage renewal of one of the most sought-after prizes in South African racing.
Former SA champion Gavin Lerena will again be aboard Kommetdieding, while Cape Town’s favourite son Grant Van Niekerk will be hoping to go one better on Linebacker.
The final field announcement and barrier gate draw was held yesterday (Tuesday June 21) at the proud big race sponsor’s Umhlanga Rocks head office. Attended by leading horseracing and sporting personalities, the slickly organised festive function was hosted by Hollywoodbets ambassador, Carol Tshabalala and horseracing administrator, auctioneer and commentary box veteran, Graeme Hawkins.
The event was broadcast on SuperSport and on Racing 240, and was streamed live on the fast-growing KZN-based horseracing broadcast platform, GallopTV.
The 2022 line-up included no real surprises after the big race panel had to convene to filter eight of the 28 final entries.
The line-up for the first Saturday of July is a top notch, nationally representative field of thoroughbreds from the yards of champion trainers and past Durban July winners.
Reigning SA Champion trainer, Justin Snaith saddles five runners in his bid to win the Hollywoodbets Durban July for the sixth time.
The Snaith attack includes top-weight and dual Gr1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate winner, Jet Dark as well as two past winners - the “old man” Do It Again (2018, 2019) and Belgarion (2020). The latter will be ridden by multiple record-breaking champion rider Piere Strydom, who returns at the age of 56 from an injury enforced break to attempt to equal the currently absent Anton Marcus’ record of five winners.
Strydom won the Durban July with London News (1996), Trademark (2021), Pomodoro (2012), and The Conglomerate (2016).
In the new generation of ace jockeys, Richard Fourie, who partners Cape Derby star Pomp And Power for Justin Snaith, is next best with three winners to his name. Interestingly, all of Fourie’s past winners - Legislate (2014), Do It Again (2019) and Belgarion (2020) - were trained by Snaith.
Multiple SA Champion and international racing ambassador, Mike de Kock saddles a quartet of July runners - and will be keen to get back on to the illustrious honour roll, having last saddled the brilliant filly Igugu to win in 2011. Ironically, De Kock saddles the only member of the fairer sex in the 2022 renewal in the shape of the Silvano daughter Sparkling Water, who races in the famous Wilgerbosdrift silks.
Former multiple SA Champion Sean Tarry has won the Durban July twice, and his two-handed attack this year is headed by Gr1 Summer Cup hero Flying Carpet, and champion stayer Nebraas, who is a reserve runner.
Milnerton trainer Dean Kannemeyer has won the Durban July three times and saddles top class three-year-old Waterberry Lane, who races in a partnership of the late Mike Rattray and his wife, Norma.
“I am pleased with the 7 draw. He is a very smart three-year-old and nothing would mean more to me than to honour Mike Rattray’s memory and his enormous investment in the sport by winning the Hollywoodbets Durban July. If we don’t have a ticket, we don’t have a chance, and it’s the race that we all want to win,” said Kannemeyer.
SA Champion apprentice elect Rachel Venniker makes history for women and gets the chance to show her mettle at her first Durban July engagement as she partners Gr1 SA Classic winner Red Saxon for veteran Turffontein conditioner, Joey Soma. In what could be a fair omen, the Soma three-year-old drew the same 14 gate as his illustrious stablemate Got The Greenlight in 2021.
Tomorrow morning (Thursday June 23), the Hollywoodbets Greyville gates will open at 6:30am as the Hollywoodbets Durban July class of 2022 are put through their paces in the official public gallops at the Theatre Of Champions.
The whole family is invited to enjoy the visual spectacle of these magnificent thoroughbreds in the flesh. Premier coffee and pastries will be served.
The Winning Form and official Gold Circle racecard for the Hollywoodbets Durban July day race meeting will be on sale at the Gallops.
The race will be run on Saturday July 2, and while sporting venues are still restricted to 50% capacity under current Covid regulations, Marketing Executive for Gold Circle Stephen Marshall said that this still equates to 27 500 people. However, he pointed out that ticket sales have been brisk and way ahead of what had been expected. He estimated that there were about 3000 tickets still available through Computicket. So, move fast and secure your dream day out right now.
Hollywoodbets Brand and Communications Manager, Devin Heffer was thrilled at the turnout for the field announcement. “This is a learning experience for all of our team, but we had a terrific atmosphere and buzz here today, and we are proud of the turnout and the response from all invitees. Horseracing folk are such sociable people, and really live the spirit of the sport of kings through great sportsmanship. We can’t wait for the big day - roll on 2 July!”
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