The 1st Saturday in July . . .

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Jun 27, 2019, 10:31

Just one week to go before my favourite day of the sporting calendar and my two favourite races.

It's the running of the Vodacom Durban July and it's also stage 1 of the 2019 Tour de France.

I have been following horse-racing since I was a kid and I can honestly say that the field for the 2019 Durban July is the best I've ever seen. This year's race brings together four champions from three different generations.

4 year olds have won 4 the last 6 Durban Julys and this year sees two outstanding 4 year old champions clash . . . last year's Durban July winner Do It again and the winner of the 2019 Sun Met, Rainbow Bridge. Both are in top form, Do It Again having recently won the Rising Sun Gold Challenge over 1600m where Rainbow Bridge ran 3rd after being baulked in the straight. The July distance of 2200m will suit both horses a lot better and there won't be much between these two.

I have included the 7 year old Legal Eagle as a great champion of his generation but he is getting a bit long in the tooth and has lost a lot of his aura in the last two years . . . still, when you see a great champion with 15 wins actually getting weight from the top 3 year old you have to take notice and if Legal Eagle can roll back the years and show the kind of form of his youth he would be a shoo-in at these weights.

And then there's the star 3 year old, Hawwaam. Hawwaam is quite simply the most sensational horse on South African turf since the great Horse Chestnut and he seems to be on a similar career path . . . having just won the Daily News 2000 in the same kind of facile fashion that Horse Chestnut used to win his races. Hawwaam's merit rating is through the roof and he's recently been rated the 13th best horse in the world, a ranking that could improve significantly if he's exposed to international quality fields . . . as he may well be if he keeps on winning.

In contrast to the Durban July where all the top champions will clash, the Tour de France will be missing some big names this year. Sadly Chris Froome had a terrible crash during for this year's Criterium du Dauphine which has ruled him out of the 2019 Tour de France and considering his age, could even be career ending. Team Ineos (used to be Team Sky) had another fright when last year's Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas crashed during the Tour of Switzerland and could also have missed the Tour but the injury wasn;t as bad as first feared and Thomas is expected to be named in the Ineos team for the Tour when the team is announced in a few day's time. 

Tom Dumoulin will unfortunately miss the Tour de France this year with a knee injury while Primoz Roglic and Miguel Angel Lopez both raced in this year's Giro d'Italia so will skip the Tour.

Still, even without a lot of those big names, it should be a great Tour and the fight for the yellow jersey could happen within Team Ineos where Geraint Thomas might be challenged by young Colombian sensation Egan Bernal. Results in the early stages of the Tour could determine who becomes the leader for Team Ineos. Whoever that leader is will also have competition from the in-form Astana rider Jakob Fuglsang; Mitchelton Scott's Adam Yates as well as the evergreen Vincenzo Nibali. Team Movistar are always a threat and I suspect they'll be represented by Nairo Quintana and Mikail Landa.

I'll do a separate preview of the different Tour de France jersey competitions once the teams are finalized.

Jun 27, 2019, 11:53

I'll make my selection later, but yes it's still one of my favourite SAFFA races.....the Met is the other. I still have visions of the great Sea Cottage.

Jun 27, 2019, 11:59

Dark Moon Rising didn't even make the final field. It will be running in the consolation event over the same distance, race 3.

Jun 27, 2019, 14:16


Jun 27, 2019, 14:52

Barahin and Soqrat fight out the Gr2 Golden Horseshoe 2018

Sunday’s lightly raced Jubilee Handicap winner Barahin (5-1), also from the De Kock stable, has played himself into serious contention.

Jun 27, 2019, 15:59

Racing is a very pleasant brings out the unknown and speculation of guesses and intuition  of experience which goes one way or another...a flaw perhaps in Gallic breeding but a stimulating essence of life. I don't like you at all... but you probably feel exactly the same way.  But nevertheless

 we probably have some excitements in common. And yes, horsing on the field I've always loved, not gambling but the atmosphere of tweed and top hats and turf and pink gins.

I was always enraptured by country life...horses, hunting, pheasants, hounds, grouse, deer, partridges, salmon and trout etc. etc.

Therefore lets strike common ground...I have a few friends in racing some very successful and winners of Durban July, starting in 1968

Jamaican Rumba and ending with Ipi Tombi and Dancers Daughter  and even Chimboraa in the begining at 59 to one...all July winners from my old friends, David Payne, Paddy Wynne and Kevin Shea.

Lets see..

Jun 28, 2019, 03:18

Horses are my favourite animal, loved them since childhood and followed horse racing from an early age. I would have loved to have been a horse trainer instead I became a pigeon fancier and had quite a bit of success racing pigeons. In a way it's no different to racing horses, one needs a ton of patience, dedication and little or no life outside of it. A strict regime means being up at the crack of dawn, managing their exercise, cleaning the loft and supervising their feed. Every single day, there are no breaks in between. Each pigeon like every single horse has it's own traits and as a good trainer you become sensitive to their peculiarities. The important thing to always remember is that animals can't speak. Ja so most of my childhood meant spending time helping Dad with the pigeons.

Enough of that lol

You can't talk of great South African horses without mentioning Colorada King and Ipi Tombi, both went to the USA and were successful. There were others, I mentioned Sea Cottage, I remember him being maimed 6 weeks out from the big race and Syd Laird's effort to get him to full health. If I'm not mistaken Sea Cottage went on to win the Met? Those were the days.

We had a trainer not dissimilar to Syd Laird, his name, Bart Cummins, they called him the Cups King. He's passed now but his young nephew has stepped right up to the plate winning most of the G1 races.

We'll be catching a live broadcast of the July but it means that I once again have to sacrifice sleep to watch the race at an ungodly hour. Oh well, that's the way it goes unless I record the race which I'm loathe to do. 

I note that Ozzie bred horses are doing well at Kenilworth and Turfontein and knowing the better bred ones has helped me back a few winners.

Jun 29, 2019, 00:45

We too kept pigeons when I was young in the Transvaal.....raced them all the way from Maitjiesfontein. Actually a great hobby.....selecting pairings for speed and endurance was fun.

One of the worst days of my childhood came as we were training birds from Heidelberg to Springs......releasing the birds one at a time, a pair of hawks dropped over a nearby hill.

One hawk swung onto a pigeon's tail, while the other climbed above them. As the pigeon swerved to avoid his pursuer, the hawk above dropped like a missile and knocked it out of the sky.

We were attached to every bird and seeing nature so vividly displayed was a bitter lesson.

Jun 30, 2019, 09:16

So then you'd know all about the brown cookie with the bit of white on top?:)

Jul 01, 2019, 05:40

Not really.

Jul 01, 2019, 06:33

The colour of the bird's poo. It's a sure sign that everything is fine internally and is ready to race.

Jul 01, 2019, 07:08

Finally found a racecard....

Hawwaam giving some of the older horses some weight but who knows might still have the class to win. I'm betting win.

Jul 01, 2019, 14:19

Never knew that.....but I do remember the Condy's Crystals bath.

Jul 02, 2019, 06:02

I learned about bathing them from my brother years later after I had moved on from managing our pigeons. Hell I was just a kid and the little advice I got came from a family friend who happened to be a white guy, a pigeon fancier himself until he was forced to give it away because his wife hated pigeons. Looking back, managing racing pigeons was pretty nigh demanding, there were plenty of theories and very little knowledge but I did ok, dad provided the finances and I did the rest. So yes I remember the bathing crystals.

We won quite a few races, shorties, Cape Town/ Touws River/ Laingsburg but the big one was the Philopolis Classic a distance of roughly 500 miles as the bird flies. We also pooled that hen all the way from a Tickey to 25 cents :) Can you imagine a 12 year old walking up to the table on the call of winning time in front of mostly grey-haired seniors? Those were great times and I wouldn't swop it for anything else. These days I have more time for horse racing....... have highs but a lot more lows but at the end of the day it's just fun besides as I've said I love the animal. 

Jul 03, 2019, 04:06

Here's another story. When the birds flew into Springs most of the lofts were in another part of town. So the theory went that there was a gravitational pull to those areas where most birds were kept. Birds from other areas supposedly went with the pack, only breaking away when the other birds dropped down to their lofts.

So after we missed a few races by a few scant minutes my father and I half jokingly suggested to my mother that we move to a bird rich didn't go well.

Jul 03, 2019, 10:26

Jul 03, 2019, 16:14

Clean looking bird, good eye....nothing that unusual though. What a price!

Jul 04, 2019, 04:09

There's a few there.......the body is perfect, compact and streamlined and the head has a special look about it.

Did you know that our Bill Lawrie was/is a keen pigeon fancier? He made mention of it in his commentaries, said that he picked up the hobby while on a tour of the republic.

About pigeons totally losing their flight path in a race, It's a rare experience but yes I've heard of it, as a matter of fact one happened in the state of Victoria where not one made its way home upon being released. Interesting too is that scientist still can't explain how pigeons can find their way home when being released from a distance of a thousand miles and more....or for that matter any distance.

Jul 04, 2019, 21:38

A great hobby.....I loved it, the pigeons were like members of the family. And they live on.....I tell the younger grandkids pigeon stories, which they seem to enjoy.

Jul 09, 2019, 15:39

1.Do It Again (J Snaith)
2.Rainbow Bridge (E Sands)
3.Twist Of Fate (J Ramsden)
4.Eyes Wide Open (G Kotzen)
5.Miyabi Gold (J Snaith)
6.Camphortus (RA/SA Hill)

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