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Snaith has strong hand in Garden Province

The popular grey, Bela-Bela.
The popular grey, Bela-Bela.

THE Grade 1 Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes is rightfully the most prestigious of the supporting features on Vodacom Durban July card and this year’s renewal is one of the classiest seen in recent times.

Justin Snaith’s champion grey filly Bela-Bela proved in the Grade 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge that a mile is her best trip. She had to be steadied at the back of the field for a stride or two in that race when encountering some interference, yet still managed to run on strongly from right at the back for an excellent third. She looks the one to beat from a plum draw of five.

Three-year-old Just Sensual has enjoyed an outstanding season, winning the Grade 1 WSB Cape Fillies Guineas, finishing second in the Grade 1 SA Fillies Sprint and winning both the Grade 2 Tibouchina and Grade 3 Prix du Cap. Her form suggests she is at her best over 1400m, but Anton Marcus said after her Tibouchina win he had actually been disappointed as he had expected her to win easier, while trainer Joey Ramsden reckoned in the winning interview her best trip was a mile. She has a fair draw of seven.

Bela-Bela’s three-year-old Justin Snaith-trained stablemate Gimme Six won the Grade 2 Daisy Fillies Guineas in fine style and was arguably unlucky to have not won the Grade 1 Woolavington 2000. She has drawn in pole position so her relaxed style plus exceptional turn of foot should carry her close.

Another big runner from the Snaith yard will be the highly regarded Star Express, who finished a narrow second in the Grade 1 Klawervlei Majorca Stakes over 1600m to the July entry Nightingale. She then ran just 1,3 lengths behind Just Sensual in the Tibouchina over too sharp a trip. She will be 1,5kg worse off with Just Sensual in the Garden Province, but will relish the step up in trip and will be spot on as the Tibouchina was chiefly seen as a preparation outing. On the downside, she has a tough draw of 13.