Kommetdieding wins Africa’s greatest race, the 125th Vodacom Durban July

July 5, 2021

Kommetdieding (8/1) triumphed in the 125th running of the Vodacom Durban July, Africa’s most prominent race.

The Vodacom Durban July is a Grade 1 race run under handicap conditions over 1 mile 2 furlongs 206 yards, worth 2 million South African rand (US$140,160).

Drawn out wide in gate 18 of the Greyville feature race, the Michelle Rix-handled winner saw Ashwin Reynolds become the first owner of colour to win South Africa’s biggest race. 

Kommetdieding is the first horse with an Afrikaans name to win the Grade 1 event, while Rix becomes only the second female handler in the race illustrious history to claim the prize following in the footsteps of Candice Bass-Robinson.

Ridden by Gavin Lerena, the three-year-old Kommetdieding came with a late run to win by half a length ahead of the Vaughan Marshall-handled Linebacker (9/4) under Grant Van Niekerk. 

Last year’s runner-up Got The Greenlight (5/2) was a head further behind in third place for conditioner Joey Soma and rider M Yeni in the 18-runner field.

The 2020 third-place finisher Do It Again (9/1) was fourth this year for trainer Justin Snaith and jockey Richard Fourie.

Speaking about her history-making winner, Michelle Rix, daughter of experienced trainer Harold Crawford, told South African racing channel Tellytrack:

“Kommetdieding has only been racing for twelve months, this is his seventh race. After his first four starts in Cape Town which were scintillating we knew he would be something special.”

“Ashwin Reynolds (winning owner), this is for him” said Lerena. “He would have dreamed to be here today (but couldn’t due to Covid-19 restrictions). This one is for him – he’s such a passionate supporter of the game. To all my family – thank you for always having my back and thank you for always being there for me.”

Describing the race, the now Vodacom Durban July-winning rider told Tellytrack post-race:

“I was very happy where I was. It was a nice pace. I had a beautiful rhythm – I was three deep but I also had a couple of horses ahead of me. I had a good space. He’s a young horse, and immature horse and I didn’t want him to get knocked around I decided to just let him start slip at the 800m (pole). He really grew under me. He gave me a real good kick this horse and ran all the way to the line – what a racehorse!”

Michelle Rix praised Gavin Larena for the effort he made to lose the necessary four kilogrammes in order to make the assigned weight of 54 kilogrammes.

“Hats off to Gavin. I phoned him a couple of weeks ago and said ‘Can you do it?’ and he was so professional about it. ‘Give me four days,’ he said. ‘I am going to speak to my dietician’.

“He got back to me on the fourth day and said ‘I will do it’. Let me tell you a more professional jockey doesn’t come around too often,” Rix added.

Discussing the weight loss, Gavin Lauren stated:

“It’s been a tough four weeks but I took on the challenge and I came here today feeling strong and looking forward to today’s ride and it’s just beautiful when a plan comes together.”

Notable past winners of the Vodacom Durban July include dual winners Campanjo, Corriecrian, Pamphlet, Milesia Pride, El Picha and Do It Again.

Photo: Courtesy of Breandán Ó hUallacháin

Contributing Authors

Breandán Ó hUallacháin

Breandán Ó hUallacháin writes about Irish, British, French and Australian horseracing, both National Hunt and Flat. He has an interest in the history of racing...

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