The shock scratching of the boom 3yo big race favourite Hawwaam cast a cloud over Saturday’s R4,2 million Gr1 Vodacom Durban July just minutes prior to 2018 champion Do It Again producing a herculean performance under top weight to become the first horse since El Picha in the year 2000 to achieve the double.

While the scratching of Mike de Kock’s champion 3yo momentarily took the fizz and sparkle out of one of the biggest and most highly anticipated racing and social events in decades at the newly branded Hollywoodbets Greyville, the unleashing of the remaining sixteen runners at the historic 2200m mark quickly refocussed the enthusiastic crowd on the action as Return Flight went up to lead at a fairly modest pace.

The 3yo filly was stalked by Head Honcho, with Juglall doing a great job from the wide gate to have the newly blinkered Twist Of Fate against the running rail in third.

Early on, Do It Again was about ten lengths back.

As the field swung for home, Fourie angled Do It Again out for a clear run in what was to be a match winning move.

With Twist Of Fate soldiering on and Rainbow Bridge taking a shorter route home, Fourie commenced that inimitable left-handed bounce as the defending champion charged for home amid roars from the crowd.

In a classic performance, Do It Again made light of his weight and powered clear to beat Rainbow Bridge by 0,40 lengths in a time of 135,04 secs.

For Richard Fourie, this was a second July victory – but his first opportunity of a joyful canter-past as his previous success in 2014 on Legislate was achieved in the stipes boardroom.

The last horse to achieve the double was El Picha in 1999/2000. Prior to that we have to go back half a century for the previous back-to-back victor.

Gavin Lerena gave Rainbow Bridge every chance but the former SA champion goes back to Gauteng having to wait another year to find his first July winner.

Nooresh Juglall did a great job for Joey Ramsden on Twist Of Fate. The R20 000 son of Master Of My Fate just doesn’t know how to run a bad race and took his earnings to over R3 million at his fifteenth start to run a gutsy third from a diabolical draw.

Eyes Wide Open showed that his recent renaissance after haemoconcentration issues has brought out his true ability. The Cape Derby winner, who will stay in training next season, ran on strongly late for fourth, with the winner’s fairer sex stablemate running out of her skin for fifth and 2,10 lengths behind.

Robbie Hill’s valiant chestnut Camphoratus was the final runner to qualify for a tote place when a half length further back in sixth.

The fancied Barahin never got into the race and finished in eighth, and five lengths off the winner.

Former dual SA Horse Of The Year Legal Eagle ran just over seven lengths back, with only one behind him. Rising eight years of age, he has certainly earned a happy retirement as one of the great horses to have graced our tracks this century.

But, while Hawwaam’s withdrawal was a cloud in the coffee, it was a terrific training performance by the Snaith Racing Team.

Do It Again had only one outing since his rather unlucky second in the Sun Met. That was when he beat Cirillo to win the Gr1 Gold Challenge at the same venue last month.

He also carried 6kgs more on Saturday than he did when winning under Anton Marcus last year. So the doubting Thomases had reason to find others and that left a value gap for the Do It fans – although Hawwaam’s withdrawal would have impacted on the tote

A serious candidate for SA Horse Of The Year, Do It Again has now won 7 races with 5 places from 13 starts for stakes of R8 410 000.

The handsome gelding was purchased by John Freeman for R1,1 million at the 2016 National Yearling Sale

Bred by Northfields, Do It Again is a first crop son of Twice Over (Observatory), who last year became the first sire in the modern era to get a 3yo winner of the Durban July.

He is out of the six-time winning Sweet Virginia (Casey Tibbs).

The Hawwaam withdrawal would have initiated deductions on winning bets via the bookmakers but the scratching was a big blow in terms of refunds for the operator as the tote was flying up to that point.

But it’s fair to observe too that the Saftote website also never faltered once that we observed – a massive improvement on past major days!

Mike de Kock said afterwards that the Vet had made the right decision as his charge was lame and had hurt himself in the gates.

He said that he felt sorry for his staff who had done the hard work and would have enjoyed a good payday had things worked out.

“Let’s hope Hawwaam’s incident isn’t the headline. We still have a horse – he will be back. And let’s not take the glory away from Do It Again’s terrific win,” he said sportingly.

A great day. A great race. There must still be hope for this great game.

 

 

 

 

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