Crawford can ‘charm’ them again

Oriental Charm (Photo by Candiese Lenferna via Gold Circle)

Brett Crawford planned the downfall of race favourite last year getting Winchester Mansion in with a light weight and although the two meet again in this year’s Gr1 Hollywoodbets Durban July, Crawford appears to have another trump card in the three-year-old Oriental Charm who has drawn alongside See It Again in gates 10 and 11 respectively.

Oriental Charm likes to go forward and made all the running in the recent Gr3 Cup Trial which could play into the hands of seasoned Piere Strydom who is almost certain to take his que from his younger rival and put JP van der Merwe under pressure.

It will be an interesting tactical battle in a race that is notoriously rough.

Green With Envy started his feature race run in the Gr3 Politician Stakes and has not been since in three subsequent outings starting with the Gr1 Splash Out Cape Derby, the Gr2 WSB Guineas and then given a huge fright when pushed to the line in the Gr1 Daily News 2000 by outsider Flag Man when expected to win comfortably. But whereas Flagman may have been tuned to the minute for the Daily News in order to make the July field, Dean Kannemeyer is almost certain to have left some meat on the bone for a few lengths improvement in the July.

Flag Man also has a wide draw to contend with which could make the difference between these two. See It Again gives weight to the field and it remains to be seen whether he is in the same form as last year after a disappointing end to his Cape summer. There was a lot to like about his recent effort in the Gr1 Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge and Michael Roberts will have him spot on.

The race holds special significance for both trainer and jockey. Roberts, a winner of the race aboard Super Quality back in 1997 for David Ferraris, will be attempting to win it as a trainer while Strydom has delayed his intended retirement to ride the Twice Over colt and hopefully end his career on a high note with a fifth win in the big race. See It Again put in an eye-catching performance in the Gr1 Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge in his final preparation and is one of the big fancies in the betting. Roberts was hoping for a draw between 1 and 6 but drew 10.

Nathan Kotzen took the bold decision to raid the Highveld with Royal Victory and it proved to be an inspired move as the gelding ran two cracking races, winning the Gr1 Betway Summer Cup and the Gr1 Champions Challenge both over the tough Turffontein 2000m. The shorter Hollywoodbets Greyville straight could be of concern but if Oriental Charm sets the expected pace, Nathan Kotzen will be confident of a big effort after drawing pole position.

There are a host of feature events on the 12-race card but main supporting feature is the Gr1 Garden Province Stakes over 1600m.

Rascova and Double Grand Slam renew rivalry with the former having the edge. The two last met in the Gr2 Fillies Guineas with Rascova running out a comprehensive winner ahead of Double Grand Slam who was the hot favourite on the day. Double Grand Slam has since redeemed herself winning the Tibouchina Stakes over 1400m but she does appear to be vulnerable over the extra furlong with Rascova ahead on that score. Double Grand Slam has the better draw but she is suspect over the trip which can leave the way open for Silver Sanctuary who brough some smart Highveld form into the Gr1 Woolavington 2000 and won well. She has excellent form over this trip and with Mike de Kock at the helm the top two will not have everything their own way and the Cape Town rivalry possibly a distraction.  De Kock has a second string to his bow with Humdinger who goes well for Piere Strydom and also loves this course. Asiye Phambili lost her rider at the start of her last race and could sneak into the money.

There are two important two-year-old races, the Gr2 Zulu Kingdom Explorer Golden Slipper for fillies and the Gr2 Durban Horseshoe, both over 1400m.

The Horseshoe sees a tight battle between north and south. Cape-based Great Plains is unbeaten over the trip and his last two were on this course. He came from a long way back to win as he liked last time out and although he takes on much stronger here he looks progressive. Highveld-based Truth is unbeaten in two and was a runaway winner last time out beating the useful Don’t Cry For Me who does give some collateral form. There was less than a length separating Cosmic Speed and Proceed in the Gr1 Gold Medallion over 1200m at Hollywoodbets Scottsville but the former has a plum draw at 2 with Proceed out at 14 which could see the tables turned. However, both are in with strong winning chances.

The Slipper sees many in with chances. Little Ballerina has done very little wrong to date and the form behind her has been nothing short of spectacular. However, she does step up in trip from a wide draw which could level the playing field. Gimme’s Countess started favourite for the Gr1 Allan Robertson Championship but did not have the best of passages and was possibly an unlucky loser. She has drawn mid-field and the extra furlong should suit. Quid Pro Quo has not been further back than second in five starts culminating in the win in the Allan Robertson. She has the best of the draw and can confirm the Allan Robertson result as she goes a furlong further. Khethiwe’s Destiny has won her last two in good style and will stay the extra furlong. She will be a big runner in a tough race.


Author: Melissa