Well, it has been a couple of
weeks to remember – and not just for the two Grade 1 wins. My two beautiful
daughters, Holly and Zara, came to Durban and we have had the best holiday ever
here in Natal. It really was superb fun.
The good times really started
the week before the July, culminating in The Conglomerate putting his best hoof
forward and winning a smashing race. It was a remarkable performance from
Pierre Strydom and the horse appeared to be extremely proud of himself. My heart
does go out to Anton, who put in a lot of work. However, it was six of one and
half a dozen of the other, with The Conglomerate just peaking at the right
time. I am sure St Tropez will do his best next weekend. He has a tough task in
the Champion’s Cup but who knows: he certainly has the ability.
July Day was special. It was
a shame that Markus was not there as he really wanted to win the July. However,
we did have Stefan, Ingrid and her two beautiful daughters on course to lead
the horse in. For once the spotlight was on Mrs Jooste. The celebrations
afterwards were even more fun. I had some mates over from Quatar and we
partied long and hard into the night. This was followed by more celebrations
at Durban’s best restaurant, Bel Punto, before finally flaking out. It was a great weekend’s racing. We were well
looked after by Gold Circle and I have to say a big thank you all round.
Winning the Mercury Sprint
with Red Ray was, I felt, one of my best achievements. It is wonderful to have
the “old” horses back in the yard. Red Ray should have won a Group 1 race
a long time ago but he is another horse that has never been blessed with a
decent draw. It was fantastic to see him get his head in front after all his
trials and tribulations and his trip round the world. He looked
magnificent on Saturday and it was with great pleasure that we led him into the
winners box. As always, a huge thank you to Markus and Ingrid Jooste and
We are busy making plans as
to where Red Ray goes next. At this time of writing, I am not sure if we will
have another season with him (which would give me serious butterflies) or if he
goes off to stud. Either way, I will be the happiest man around to see
him finally get the recognition he deserves. He is one of the best horses I
have ever trained and I am glad we finally got to see the best of him on
Saturday. Good things happen to good people and good horses. This definitely
applies to Markus, Ingrid, Derek and Red Ray.
It is lovely to have our old
friend from Cape Town, Morne Winnaar, up here in Natal. He was an
extremely capable and competent rider for me in the past. Maybe now the penny
has finally dropped and he has realised he has to get off his butt and work and
maybe he will start earning some money. There is no finer stylist than Morne
and he is a very good judge of pace. He is a likeable young man and a talented
jockey with it. He just needs an extremely large and loud alarm clock – and a
foot right where it hurts – at about 5h30 each morning. If he can wake up
and get to work on time, he will succeed and people will see him for the star
that he really is.
Talking of stars, I miss my
friend, Donovan Dillon. I am looking forward to teaming up with him again once
I am back in the Cape. Have to keep an eye on the young fellow.
Ricardo has been doing well
in Cape Town. The weather has turned really cold and there have not been many
horses to run. We have started to vaccinate the horses for African Horse
Sickness. What a process that is. It has to be the biggest pain in the butt and
is extremely disruptive to the training program. I am only glad that I am in
Durban while all this is going on.
Our season is coming to a
close here with the Champions Cup and The Gold Cup still to be run. The
Gold Cup is a race that, like the EP Derby, if I have not got a horse taking
part, it really burns my backside. It is a race I really enjoy winning.
We will be working carefully this week, trying hard not to overwork them and
getting more and more excited as next weekend draws ever closer.
Finally, to annoy all those
sporting fans; everyone knows what a fan of Andy Murray I am. Wow, what a
performance that was. It was fantastic to see him win Wimbledon again and he
will surely win a whole lot more.
The week culminated in my
appearing on Jimmy
Goodman’s show, Winning Ways. Anything to do with James is always good fun and
I hope I did not make too much of a prat of myself.
Finally I can say it; this is
the trainer of the July winner signing off on DAY 246, 19th July.
I have received some lovely comments and I thank each and every one of you. And
a special big thank you to the passionate Indian horse racing community in Natal who have made me feel like a celebrity;
if only it were true.