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The weekend’s equine entertainment does not get any better than we have just experienced. Racing on two continents, starting with the Investec Derby Festival, which could not have turned out any better no matter how hard they tried. The crowd was awesome and the weather held out.  Fantastic entertainment was organised by Investec’s top advertising team. 

They ended up with two awe-inspiring races.  Friday’s Oaks was won by Minding. She was impressive in her own right and made the rest look fairly ordinary. She got into all sorts of trouble and coming into the straight seemed to be in a hopeless position.  However, once out of trouble, she showed an incredible turn of foot to reel in the leaders and win like a very good horse. Even better that she is a filly. Is she the next Oh So Sharp that goes on to win the Guineas / Oaks / St Leger triple?  Maybe not as she looks to have plenty of speed. Her form is even more impressive as she has managed to do all this in six weeks, having run second in the Irish Guineas after getting quite a nasty injury as the gates opened at the start of that race. She is well worth spending an afternoon just to watch in her own right. 

Saturday’s Investec Derby saw three very good horses pass the post in those positions. The winner, Harzand by Sea The Stars, looked very smart and he comes from the awesome breeding dynasty of the Aga Khan himself.  Even with the might and glory  of Coolmore, they are head and shoulders above the rest. They have stuck to their beliefs and truths and ways and means for decades and their  results have borne fruit.  The 2nd horse, US Army Ranger by Galileo, looks a particularly good animal, considering it is only his third start. He is definitely a horse to become excited about.   

Saturday at Scottsville also threw out some nice horses. The shock defeat of Carry On Alice and the form being franked by Coenie De Beer’s horse in the main race, Talktothestars, makes racing all the more puzzling.  As I said last week, no one ever said it was easy.  The two Juvenile races looked to be won by two really smart Vaughan Marshall Juveniles, once again proving what a master trainer he is. Well done to all the connections. I had lunch with Vaughan a couple of weeks ago and even then he was adamant neither would get beaten. Mr Confident indeed!  But he talked the talk and walked the walk. Well done to him.  

Some people dodged Carry On Alice and rather took on the colts. It just goes to show there are no “give me’s” in racing with Carry On Alice’s downfall. I am sure she will be back and this is just a minor blip in her career. However, I would not  have wanted to be poor old S’manga Khumalo ears, though. 

The colt’s race was won by the much travelled and fancied Coenie de Beer’s horse, Talktothestars, wearing no shoes at all.  He won really well, with the 2nd to 4th placed horses finishing in a heap. Sadly, Red Ray finished with just three shoes on so maybe I should be taking a leaf out of the book of the winner and then I won’t have to worry about losing a shoe. We were particularly pleased with Red Ray, especially after almost two years off the track. He looks to be in excellent form and we have him in again in ten days time. However, it might be a bit too soon after such a long time off but on this morning’s performance and the way he was bucking while having his first canter after his run, I am not too sure.  We will wait and see and talk to the brains behind the horses, Derek Brugman, about where we go next. 

It is never nice to whinge about the tracks but Scottsville’s surface again looked to be a little loose this year and not at its best.  Maybe it had something to do with the fact that there were four or five races up the straight a few days before the weekend. That cannot be the cleverest idea before a big day.  I really think the surface could have been a little better but we still had a great days racing. 

A final word on the tracks was when poor old Anton Marcus was asked his opinion after the first race at Greyville the other day and he once again expressed his dissatisfaction with it.  I believe all future questions aimed at jockeys will not be around the condition of the tracks, as a results of certain presenters having received letters, claiming this to be a complete faux pas on their own account if they mention the tracks during the course of the interview. I am not sure if this is correct? God loves a free press!  I am going to back Anton, whose horses are still coming home with black eyes aplenty.  Time has been on their side to improve things, certainly on the grass front.  But enough said and the last of my whining for the season about the tracks. 

Summerveld tracks are in excellent spec and the grass tracks up here are remarkable and, I might add, freely available to those who want to use them. Tony Rivalland is extremely sporting and it is really the most beautiful place to train racehorses.  I also cannot deny that I do like the Greyville polytrack despite the fact it could be a little longer and wider. 

Busy week ahead although little mid week racing. We have some nice weekend runners with The Conglomerate trying to qualify for this year’s Durban July. We also have two nice three year old sprinters that I think will run well.  Fingers crossed. 

The weather in Durban is stunning but Tony Rivalland, who is both track master and weatherman, tells me it is going to turn chilly towards the end of the week. Time to pull out the winter warmers and my West Ham beanie. 

Our juveniles in Cape Town are going great and as I said a while ago, we appear to have a very nice bunch. This is the time of year we weed out the youngsters that are not coping and send them out to the various farms to grow and mature before bringing them back in the spring. Sadly, African Horse Sickness makes a complete farce of this as one never knows when one can get them back in. This is yet another thorn in the side of the Western Cape trainer. Surely it is time for things to change? 

This is your Captain signing out on DAY 242, 7th June and wishing you all a good week ahead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 
 
 
 
   


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