The 2020 Vodacom Durban July race meeting was staged behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, but even if there'd been 50,000 fans in Greyville's vast grandstands on Saturday there would have been a hushed silence after Race 8, the Garden Province Stakes, the supporting feature event.
On a day of many upsets, Temple Grafin, starting at 40-1, landed the Grade 1 prize and delivered another body blow to punters.
The result of the July itself, with second-favourite Belgarion winning, provided a very brief respite for battered punters.
The Garden Province – one of South Africa's premier filly-and-mare contests – was predicted to be fought out by Celtic Sea from Sean Tarry's Highveld yard and Clouds Unfold from Candice Bass-Robinson's Cape Town stable.
Temple Grafin had not won since April 2019. Her subsequent form in eight runs was not bad, with a degree of consistency, but nothing to suggest she could get the better of her opposition here.
Trainer Glen Kotzen and jockey Keagan de Melo were not listening to the pundit, however. The latter positioned the four-year-old filly just off the lead from the 1600m start.
From the jump, Celtic Sea found herself up front, but was then eased back as Mill Queen took it up, with Ronnie's Candy and Pretty Young Thing chasing. In the dash for the line, Celtic Sea looked likely to prevail as she went past the front runners, but Temple Grafin delivered the run of her life to get home by less than a length.
After this shock, racing fans at home were informed that there were just three tickets remaining in the day's R15-million Pick 6, going into the last leg in Race 9.
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