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Friday, 01 July 2022
With a Quartet carryover of R2 million leading to an expected pool of R10 million in the Durban July, punters have plenty of incentives to try to smoke out the order of finish in one of South Africa’s greatest historic contests.

It is carded as Race 7 on Saturday at Greyville and forms part of a big Pick 6 maxipool of R12 million, plus the second Jackpot sequence where the pool is likely to be around R1.5 bar. Off time is 16h00.

The runners are listed below in card order with their career-best speed figures and short profiles to help with making your selections. Monitor betting moves and trading volumes on Interbet's exchange before taking fixed odds wagers; the Interbet Tote platform also offers the whole range of Exotic bets.

ARAGOSTA 107 – admirable three-year-old from Mike de Kock’s stable comes in here off a top figure of 107 in the Daily News, where he was out finished by stablemate, Safe Passage, after racing handy. No stamina concerns and can work out another good stalking trip from the inside under jockey Kennedy who rides the Greyville circuit better than almost any other jockey, but he may be outgunned in the closing stages.

DO IT AGAIN 115 – has twice won the Durban July so merits obvious respect even as a fickle and sometimes grumpy, seven-year-old. Won his seasonal bow fluently with a fine score of 111 so has not lost his ability. A valiant effort last year when suffering a terrible trip in this race and only beaten 1.75 lengths by Kommetdieding, so has a chance of a rare three-peat on a going day - if getting the breaks.

HOEDSPRUIT 108 – well handicapped older horse sneaking in with a low mass. That makes him dangerous for a big prize cagily targeted by the very shrewd Snaith Racing outfit.

LINEBACKER 113 – won the Daily News here, then came second in this in 2021 and was subsequently close in the Met so is conclusively proven at this class level. Has enjoyed a smooth prep (the 110+ behind Al Muthana in the Gold Challenge was eye-catching) and looks sure to run big. Vaughan Marshall’s entry rates as one of the leading chances amongst the older horses and jockey Grant van Niekerk who has been denied narrowly in the July before trying his darndest to beat off the younger upstarts as well.

PUERTO MANZANO 105 – consistent gelding that comes off a workmanlike victory in the Jubilee at Turffontein. Has a solid winning record 5 from 15 starts and trainer van Vuuren is in sharp form. Against PM is that he’s never run a big enough number, making it improbable that he can contend in this exalted company.

WATERBERRY LANE 107 – handsome specimen for a top yard with a proven record in this race (Dean Kannemeyer), so is also in the mix despite queries over his stamina for this longer route. However, he appears a couple of lengths shy of rival three-year-olds, Zapatillas and Safe Passage on KZN Guineas and Daily News form.

POMP AND POWER 112 – this hugely impressive winner of the Cape Derby used optimal stalk and pounce tactics to get a speed figure of 112 which labeled him in February already as a principal July contender. A feisty character who can pull hard. Much will depend on his temperament in the crowded and pressurized prelims and how he settles in the race. Assessed on raw ability carrying 53 kg’s this Vercingetorix gelding is teed up as a potential winner.

JET DARK 114 – rated on his smashing Queens Plate romp, this magnificent colt with aspirations to take over from his father, Trippi as a sire, must be a massive runner. He was running well in the Met over 2000m and has done well at this course in slightly shorter events. The booking of strong rider Fayd Herbe, who has won the July a couple of times, is a positive factor. If in the mood on the day look for Jet Dark to dash into the fray in a deep stretch.

SAFE PASSAGE 110+ - easy winner of the Daily News with a Grade 1 level score of 110. He is highly likely to step up big time on that already potent number. As such this fast-progressing son of Silvano from the de Kock barn rates as the most probable winner given how he disdainfully swept by the admittedly unsettled-early, Pomp and Power.

BELGARION 112 – won this race two years ago when handicapped a virtual racing certainty. Battled with injuries subsequently and could only manage a figure of 106 at his second outing after 44 weeks off track. Now has a peak run third after a rest but he arguably concedes younger and far more sprightly rivals too much weight.

SPARKLING WATER 108 – an adaptable filly who stays well and has a nice turn of foot. That could see her sweeping past tiring rivals in the straight but whether she is fleet-footed enough to menace the big guns here is debatable. Nevertheless, goes in as a live hope to make the frame, should an (unexpectedly) swift early pace place a premium on seeing out the journey properly.

KOMMETDIEDING 112 - 2021 Durban July hero and brilliant 2022 Met victor comes off an abortive Highveld campaign and needs to bounce back at his preferred coastal stamping grounds. Faces a harder task at these weights. A bit of an enigma and hard to assess.

RED SAXON 106 – rallied bravely to stun Safe Passage in the SA Classic at 25/1 but has not come close to troubling the scorer at two follow-up runs.

SECOND BASE 106 – has won a third of his 21 career starts but is yet to hit a speed score suggesting he can mix it with these super-tough Grade 1 foes.

AL MUTHANA 111 – bit of a query over this longer route and is drawn wide so will probably be dropped out and ridden for luck. May not be quite as good as the principals yet is not the worst 35/1 outsider as he defeated Linebacker three weeks ago at this track on similar weight terms. Sports competitive-enough figures, finishes with verve, and knows how to win. Worth lobbing into bigger tickets.

ASTRIX 106 – sprung a 66/1 shocker when edging Sparkling Water at Turffontein two months ago. A game and determined handy - the type who might well be a pace influence here but falls short of what is needed in this much stronger contest.

FLYING CARPET 105 – the pinnacle of his career was winning the Summer Cup towards the end of 2021. Measured by speed scores though just looks in too deep here.

AIRWAYS LAW 103 – 1st Reserve. Arrives off a career-best attained when backed at long odds and winning the Cup Trial. Still unexposed and lightly campaigned. If getting into the final field would need another big step up to threaten, however.

NEBRAAS 104 – 2nd Reserve. Is an accomplished stayer who has won 7 of 19 starts and is 2/2 at Greyville and comes up light on figures for this class level.

In summary, a number of about 110 is probably the par score required to genuinely challenge for the coveted Durban July sash.

In ranking them, qualifying candidates are given letter grades.

In the A Group are SAFE PASSAGE(10), POMP AND POWER(8), and older rivals, LINEBACKER(4) and JET DARK(9).

The next best in the B Group, are HOEDSPRUIT(3), SPARKLING WATER(12), DO IT AGAIN(2), and AL MUTHANA(16).

The C Group comprises past winners KOMMETDIEDING(13) and BELGARION(11), together with WATERBERRY LANE(7) and ARAGOSTA(1).

Signing off with a wish for all Interbet punters - may the photo finish go your way!

Mark van Deventer
Mark van Deventer
Mark van Deventer

Mark van Deventer has been refining his speed figures for thoroughbred racehorses over three decades. He’s long been intrigued by the intellectual puzzle of form study. Andrew Beyer, creator of the Beyer speed figures in America, has always been his inspirational “guru.” So, the figures that underpin Mark’s analysis use Beyer’s main concepts, and have been adapted to suit South African racecourses.

The racing bug can be compelling - since 2013, this U.C.T. Psychology graduate has settled into a career as a full time journalist and racing manager.

Mark uses the insights gained from time-based analysis to convey well-researched handicapping opinions, building a reputation of integrity in the media as an imaginative handicapper with the ability to unearth live runners at juicy prices.