Durban July Handicap

Held annually on the first Saturday of July, the Durban July Handicap is a thoroughbred horse race, held at Greyville Racecourse, in Durban, South Africa. The race has no age restrictions and is South Africas top horse racing event, with a prize of money of 2.5 million African rands, approx $288,000.
The race first took place in 1897 over a distance of one mile. The distance was changed several times up until 1970 when settling to today’s distance of one and a half miles. The winner of that first Durban July Handicap was Campanajo, trained by E. Murray and ridden by R. Scott, and subsequently went on to win the following year’s event.

Most Successful Horse

Five horses share two wins each in South Africa’s premier race, with the above mentioned Campanajo being the first. It was in 1907 and 1908 when the next horse chalked up two victories. This time it was the turn of Corriecrian, trained by F. Wade and ridden by C. Yarnell. The second victory in 1908 was both trained and ridden by W. Pickering.
It was in the mid-nineteen hundreds when Milesia Pride gained her two successes. The first coming in 1949 when the J. Morrison trained H. Wright rode the horse. A year later, in 1950, the horse won back to back victories when B.Lewis took to the saddle.
El Picha, in 1999 won the first of his two victories, trained by Geoff V. Woodruff and ridden by Robbie Hill, the horse returned the following year to complete the double. This time under jockey Anton Marcus, El Picha took to the front a furlong from home, with Young Rake making significant headway in the final one hundred yards, almost catching the eventual winner, who won by a nose.
The Durban July Handicap winner in 2018 was Do It Again, who did do it again the following year in 2019. Do It Again trained by Justin Snaith and ridden by Anton Marcus in the first of the two victories. Going off at 10/1, the four-year-old came through to the front in the center of the track half a furlong from home, running on from eventual runner up, Made To Conquer, winning by one and a quarter lengths.
The follow-up victory in 2019 came under the guidance of jockey Richard Fourie. Starting as the 9/2 second favorite, Do It Again switched to the wide outside coming into the final one and half furlongs. Coming down the center of the track in the last one hundred yards, the horse got himself in front of favorite Rainbow Quest just before the line, winning by a neck.

Leading Jockey

Five successes in the race give Anton Marcus the upper hand in the leading jockey stakes. Victory on Dancing Duel, trained by Anthony T Millard, in 1993, was the first up. This was followed at the beginning of the new century in 2000 when El Picha won the second of his two Durban July Handicaps. Five years later, in 2005, Dunford took the spoils in what was a sad day at the track when favorite Rabiya broke his leg and had to be put down.
A less somber occasion in 2007 saw the Charles Laird trained horse, Hunting Tower, notch up win number four for Anton Marcus, winning by a neck from Buy and Sell. Do It Again in 2018 saw Anton’s successes in the race climb to five when the Justin Snaith horse gained victory over runner up, Made to Conquer.

Leading Trainer

Seven triumphs in the space of seventeen years between 1961 and 1978, makes Sydney Laird the leading trainer in the race. Victory with Kerason in 1961, ridden by G. Walker, was followed two years later in 1963 when jockey R.Siverwright rode Colorado King to victory. Back to back wins in 1966 and 1967, with Java Head, ridden by H. Cawcutt and Jollify, ridden by J. Gorton, respectively, saw the trainers tally rise to four.
Mazarin in 1971 was win number five, with jockey B. Hayden on board. B. Hayden was once again in the saddle in 1973 when Yataghan strode to victory. Five years later, in 1978 saw the seventh and final win for the trainer, when Politician came home in front, to the delight of jockey B. Hayden, and trainer Sydney Laird.

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