Draw of gates and weights
LET the punditry begin. And the recriminations.
With yesterday's announcement of the final field for the Durban July, at last we know what we are dealing with in trying to find a winner in South Africa's most famous horse race, to be run in a fortnight.
And the connections of horses that didn't crack the nod might be asking pointed questions about why not.
As important as the actual names of the runners are, their weights and barrier draws are also crucial. These elements in racing seem technical and arcane to the July's thousands of once-a-year-flutter punters, but they are terrifically important, believe me.
Take the current race favourite, Jackson.
This colt has performed impeccably and deserves to be top of the bookmakers' boards, but his very precociousness has landed him with a hefty 57kg to carry in the race. This is the heaviest lump a three-year-old male can be made to lug, according to the race rules, and it will take a special horse to do it and win.
Jackson might well be special, but, to further erode his chances, his trainer drew gate number 18, out of 22, at yesterday's barrier ballot.
Many a fundi will tell you that Jackson's father, Dynasty, heroically won the July in 2003 from stall number 20, but a wide draw is a significant disadvantage in anyone's book.
Last week, there were two extra late entries into the race, Eton Square and Viva Maria. Both won good races recently and prodded their owners into a rethink. The former scraped into the line-up, the latter didn't.
Their owners paid a non-refundable R22280 for the late-entry privilege - as opposed to the R2280 fee at the first-entry stage in mid-April. As I said, recriminations are possible.
Early fancies? Eton Square, Vettel, Solo Traveller, Pierre Jourdan, English Garden, Jackson and Ilha Bela, in no particular order.
Field for the R3-million Durban July, 2200m, July 7 (horse, mass, trainer, draw, jockey, odds):
Pierre Jourdan 60kg (Alexander) 15 Fradd 13/1
Tales of Bravery 59.5 (Marshall) 17 Coetzee 33/1
Castlethorpe 59 (Bass) 20 Neisius 33/1
Beach Beauty 58 (Drier) 14 Cormack 13/1
Chesalon 58 (Bass) 12 Lloyd 13/1
Jackson 57 (Crawford) 18 Teetan 2/1
Polar Bound 57 (Crawford) 3 Randolph 40/1
Smanjemanje 57 (Zackey) 13 Van Niekerk 50/1
English Garden 56.5 (Bass) 10 Fayd'Herbe 8/1
Top Seller 56.5 (Marshall) 19 Byleveld 50/1
Solo Traveller 56 (De Kock) 16 Yeni 50/1
Gold Onyx 56 (Tarry) 2 G Lerena 14/1
Sage Throne 55.5 (Scott) 5 [TBA] 20/1
Royal Bencher 55 (A Laird) 8 [TBA] 40/1
Pomodoro 55 (Tarry) 22 Strydom 20/1
Vettel 53.5 (De Kock) 9 Marcus 7/1
Gorongosa 53.5 (De Kock) 7 Shea 20/1
Ilha Bela 53 (De Kock) 21 Delpech 6/1
Whiteline Fever 53 (Tarry) 1 [TBA] 25/1
Eton Square 53 (Van Zyl) 6 Hatt 40/1
Bulsara 55.5 (Van Zyl) 11 [TBA]
Seal 57.5 (Van Zyl) 4 [TBA]
(Reserve runners replace any horses withdrawn before noon on June 26. July gallops take place at Greyville on Thursday June 28.)