Ingrid and Markus Jooste's The Conglomerate caused a 20-1 surprise when holding on to win the R4.25 million Vodacom Durban July (SAf-I) July 2 at Greyville.
An Australian-bred gelding by Lonhro, a former Central Kentucky shuttler for Darley, The Conglomerate provided both his owners and trainer Joey Ramsden with their first victories in South Africa's most famous horse race.
Winless in over a year, The Conglomerate was overlooked by pundits, with the majority siding with well-weighted older horses French Navy and Solid Speed, as well as the up-and-coming 3-year-olds Black Arthur, It's My Turn, Marinaresco, and filly Bela-Bela (whose half brother Rabiya suffered a fatal breakdown in the 2005 Durban July).
South African Triple Crown winner Abashiri was assigned what appeared an impossible task, with the handicappers lumping the 3-year-old son of Go Deputy with 59 kilograms (130 pounds). The gallant gelding failed to fire in the running and finished 13th.
The victorious The Conglomerate, who was jumping from the widest draw of all in post 18, came into the home stretch five adrift, as longshot Dynamic led from Ten Gun Salute and It's My Turn, with the well-fancied Marinaresco, who started from barrier 17, closer to last than first.
Ridden to perfection by veteran jockey Piere Strydom, The Conglomerate hit the front with 300 meters left to go, with only fellow 3-year-old Marinaresco looking a legitimate threat.
The latter came with a late rattle but failed to reel in The Conglomerate, who went on to score by a neck, with recent Rising Sun Gold Challenge (SAf-I) winner Mac De Lago back in third, ahead of Investec Cape Derby (Sad-I) winner It's My Turn, with outsider Saratoga Dancer impressing back in fifth place.
Strydom tallied the July for a fourth time in his illustrious career.
Remarkably, the first five finishers in the in this year's Durban July all started from posts ranging from 12-18--not an easy feat at Greyville.
The winner was an Aus$160 000 purchase from the 2013 Inglis premier yearling sale.
Bred by Dean Fleming, 4-year-old The Conglomerate, whose last win had come in the KRA Guineas (SAf-II) last year has won six races from 16 outings, and has earned R3,425,325 in prize money.
The Conglomerate is out of outstanding racemare Republic Lass, whose wins included both the Australasian Oaks and Ranvet Stakes (both Aus-I).