Durban July Betting: Can wonder horse Igugu beat the boys?
Mike de Kock trains wonder filly Igugu
"Several experts rank Igugu a certainty and there is much in her favour - she's extraordinary and has got stronger as the season has progressed, plus she has drawn in the middle of the pack which should make it easier for jockey Anthony Delpech to find a sweet spot for her in the early stages."
Africa's greatest horse racing event, the R3-million Vodacom Durban July at Greyville this Saturday, will not only spark a betting feast - it's also set to be one of the greatest contests in the race's long history. South African experts Phumelela lead us through the field
This is traditionally Africa's biggest betting day. TAB's computerised betting system will process more than 8,000 bets a minute as the Durban July runners prepare to enter the starting gate and well over R100 million will be paid out in winning bets on the day.
And the big race has a script straight out of Hollywood. Champion three-year-old filly Igugu has shown that no female runner in the country can live with her, but now she goes head to head with the best males for the first time in her life. And that's not her only problem.
She's had a grueling season, running nine times for seven wins and two seconds, and has to carry 55kg, which historically is a huge weight for a three-year-old filly.
But several experts rank her a certainty and there is much in her favour - she's extraordinary and has got stronger as the season has progressed, plus she has drawn in the middle of the pack which should make it easier for jockey Anthony Delpech to find a sweet spot for her in the early stages.
This Australian import made racing history when taking the SA Oaks by nearly six lengths at Turffontein in April to become the first winner of the SA Triple Tiara for three-year-old fillies.
The Triple Tiara is a series of three races ranging from 1600m to the 2450m distance of the Oaks and Igugu won them by a combined margin of 20 lengths in an exceptional display of athletic ability.
She followed the Oaks with a five-star display in the Woolavington over 2000m at Greyville little more than a month later. It was her first race at the Durban track, but she made short work of her seven rivals.
There's more required now and only the race will show if she's up to it, but there's no doubting that she has an outstanding chance of giving champion trainer Mike de Kock his fourth July triumph in 10 years.
De Kock has four other runners and Igugu's chief threat may well be stablemate Galileo's Destiny, who placed in all three legs of the SA Triple Crown.
He was then moved from trainer Charles Laird to De Kock and was a promising third behind Super Storm in his debut for his new stable. Expect him to be much fitter now.
This year's July is exceptional in that there are two star four-year-olds in the field in Bravura and Piere Jourdan - most horses of their caliber are campaigning overseas at this stage in their careers.
Both have shown they are fully recovered from injuries and come into the race with solid recent form.
Add in the first four past the post in the Daily News 2000 (The Apache, Run For It, English Garden and Black Wing) plus the likes of J&B Met winner Past Master and Champions Challenge hero Happy Landing and the stage is set for a ferocious contest.
Read More Horse Racing
It's all about quality on Turffontein's day-night card on Saturday as the SA Classic (due off 16:20 BST), the continent's richest race for three-year-old's, takes place over the track's tough 1800m. Here is a guide to the runners......
South Africa will be officially represented by 15 runners on Saturday's Dubai World Cup Night at Meydan, with two thirds set to be saddled by Emarati regular Mike de Kock......
The winners of the Gauteng Guineas, Golden Chateau, and Gauteng Fillies Guineas, Go Indigo, are among the entries for the Grade 1 SA Classic and SA Fillies Classic to be run over 1800m at Turffontein on Saturday March 31.......
Mike de Kock saddles the favourite for the Grade 1 J&B Met at Kenilworth on Saturday in the shape of star filly Igugu. Sean Trivass caught up with him to get his views on the big race.......