Jewish luck may help horse to triumph in July
Nine years later Young Rake was handed second place by the judge after it took some eight minutes to separate him and El Picha. The race was given to El Picha in a very controversial decision. Most pundits felt it should have been declared a dead heat.
Then in 2010 they were again beaten into second place with Irish Flame, who went down one length to his stable companion Bold Silvano.
“We’ve had a lot good runners and we’ve gone close, but we just haven’t been able to win one,” said Nestadt.
All of their runners have been top class and in the case of Rakeen went on to be a leading sire in South Africa. He was the father of Jet Master who was not only a great racehorse, but also the sire of Young Rake.
Irish Flame came into the Durban July having won the Grade 1 SA Derby at Turffontein by 9,50 lengths, the Grade 1 Daily News 2000 and the Grade 2 KZN Derby. In the Daily News he beat Bold Silvano who went on to reverse the form in the Durban July, courtesy of a shrewd ride from jockey Anthony Delpech.
This weekend Nestadt and Bernard Kantor will be relying on Samurai Blade to give them their first Durban July victory. They have been partners in most of the other runners but this one could be great value at 45-1, especially for a place.
“We bred the horse and I know he is only a one-time. However, he was beaten by less than a length by Abashiri in the SA Derby and is now 4,5kg better off. Abashiri is 14-1 and we’re 45-1. He put up a really good gallop last week Thursday with French Navy who is the 6-1 second favourite.
“He really stays, which is an advantage. I hope we’re not there just to make up the numbers. I’m always happy to take it as it comes and I know Bernard feels the same.”
A couple of years back Nestadt and the Durban July selection panel clashed over their decision to omit Rock Cocktail in favour of another KwaZulu-Natal runner who did not deserve a place in the final field.
“I had the support of most of the top owners. You can’t have a selection panel basing their decisions on trainers they like or locally based horses, irrespective of their form.
“The Durban July has become a wonderful carnival, which is fine, but then the race shouldn’t be allowed to carry Grade 1 status. You can’t have a race where a panel has all the discretion with no guidelines.”
He added that as a result, this year the field is not strong at all. “It’s a weak field and that is why we are there.”
There is a lot going for Samurai Blade. He is trained by Sean Tarry who is the current champion trainer and has already wrapped up this season’s title. He will be ridden by Andrew Fortune, a former champion jockey who is riding at the top of his game and Samurai Blade is well drawn at No 6.
Tarry has expressed his delight with the preparation of the Australian-bred colt who disappointed last time when finishing 14th behind Rabada in the Daily News 2000.
“Ignore that run,” said Tarry. “He was in the wrong position after getting caught up in a slow-run race, he overraced, was cut into and pulled a shoe. That’s not his form.
“I’d like him to be up there, not necessarily in the lead, but much closer to the leaders than in his recent starts.”
This race could also be a milestone for jockey Anton Marcus who, along with Anthony Delpech, is looking to become the first jockey to win the race five times. Marcus rides St Tropez who is quoted at 11-1.
St Tropez is trained by Joey Ramsden and owned by Markus Jooste, who is also looking for his first Durban July victory, and is drawn No 11.
Marcus said he would have preferred to be closer to the fence, especially as he feels he is on a horse who may not be good enough to win. However, he said his mount had been doing very well in his preparation.
The tote is paying out places for the first six runners past the post, so with 18 runners in the field, one has a 33,33 per cent chance of collecting!