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