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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 Derek. 

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.


 

 
 
 
 
   


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