MARCH 1 – 7
Customer service takes on a whole new meaning when the Cape TBA introduces race commentaries on 087 numbers. Punter’s will from now on have to pay for Natal commentaries, which were previously provided on a normal phone number. The TAB indicates its intention to convert commentaries from other centres at a later date.
Whereas elsewhere in the country racing management worries about declining turnovers and how to revive punter’s interests, the Cape unceremonially puts the screws on. The new charges to listen to Natal commentaries are R2.20 a minute, which is almost twice as much as it costs to phone the Natal TAB commentaries direct from Cape Town. A punter listening to the TAB 087 commentaries for all 10 races on an afternoon can expect to fork out R30 or more, of which the Cape TAB will take a cut. And then, to hear dividends, that’ll be another 087 number and another R30 or so.
When the TAB gets to converting local Cape races to the 087 “service” in a month or so, it will be cheaper to phone for Cape commentaries in Durban than it is to do so locally! In Transvaal and Natal commentaries come at the price of a normal phonecall, and what’s more, local radio stations broadcast race commentaries live as well.
What will they think of next in the Cape to stimulate punter’s interest?
Gosforth Park racing manager Graham McClarty becomes the new GM, Highveld Racing Services. The post includes the position of chairman of the handicapping panel that frames weights for all races run on the Highveld, Kimberley, Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.
McClarty goes on record as saying that the racefigure handicapping system is due for adjustment “in certain ways”.
This of course is the same handicapping system the Jockey Club promised us to look into now exactly two years ago – and is still looking into. Does that mean handicapping is a very complicated matter, or does McClarty know something we don’t?
Jockeys Blom and Gordon are suspended for three months after fumbling an attempt to mislead the Clerk of Scales at Kimberley.
Apprentice Francois Naude wins the Arthur Stafford trophy, presented each year by Turffontein to the most successful “appie” at the track. Ironically, Naude scored the lowest number of points since the inception of the award in 1975. The record points are held by Doug White, established the year before, and just bettering his own record set the year before that. Previous winners of the trophy include Lloyd (3 times in a row, ’78-’80), Sham (twice), Shearer (twice) and Mawing.
Owner/trainer LJ Human is fined R250 for entering and running a wrong horse at the Kimberley meeting in September last year. The Jockey Club was satisfied that Human had not attempted to act dishonestly or corruptly, but had merely been negligent. To err, it seems, is ….
Cape bookmaker Pip James is not so lucky. He is warned off a second time (the appeal against his first still has to be heard) for attempting to manipulate a witness. James is allowed to continue to operate as usual until his appeal is heard. Warning off or not, a certain Jockey Club Head Executive steward has little qualms about betting with James. And as long as the price is right, why shouldn’t he?
Transvaal trainer Magner’s application to the Supreme Court for an appeal against a R20.000 fine set by the Jockey Club is dismissed. Magner’s horse The Omnipotent had tested positive in a race run at the Vaal in 1990, for which the trainer had been fined. Magner appealed against the severity of the penalty, not against the penalty itself.
Jack Ward and Laurie Jaffee are re-elected, unopposed, to the Head Executive committee of the Jockey Club.
Eugene Terre’blanche and his mount part company when the horse fails to negotiate a corner, dumping the flamboyant AWB-dictator in full view of the loyal troops. As rumour has it, the horse’s name was Black Beauty.
Cape stayer Regal Satisfaction wins the Gr3 Chairmans Handicap at Kenilworth by an unprecedented seventeen lengths. The race is run over 3200m, and apprentice ridden Regal Satisfaction goes to the front very early on, with the rest of the jockeys apparently thinking he’d come back to his field.
Roland’s Song also makes all the running in a false run Gr2 Computaform Champion Stakes, run at WFA over a mile at Turffontein. The gallant mare starts at 7/1. The much fancied Goldmark and Circle The Sun cannot get a blow in, and Cape raider Stag Hunter runs second.
Topsport introduces a new team of commentators for Roland’s Song’s televised race. The off-screen tandem of Graeme Hawkins and Dave Mollet proves an exceptional one: knowledgeable, witty, and anecdotal, they don’t leave viewers with one dull moment. Which simply goes to show: it can be done if you get the formula right.
Predictably, Topsport breaks up the winning team subsequently, clearly unaware of the impact and future potential of the winning combination.
MARCH 8 – 14
The Natal Race Clubs, together with the Natal Owners and Trainers Association, stage a racing conference at Clairwood. Keynote speaker is Natal MEC Peter Miller.
Natal follows the lead from the Cape clubs, by abandoning couplings on win and double bets. Coupling remain as they were in Jackpot and Pick Six, though. The Transvaal and Free State still adhere to the old rules.
Amongst the cases listed on the roll of the Natal Supreme Court is “Delta Bloodstock vs. NTI”. This concerns the payment for the mare Tecla Bluff.
The case is postponed.
Norman Tilley’s NTI is also involved in a wrangle over the ownership of Roland’s Song, for which the company offered R650.000 some six weeks ago. Roland’s Song won last week, while still racing in her usual colours. Now comes the news that the original owners of the mare have called off the sale.
Another imported filly, Grey Angel, wins the Silver Slipper at the Vaal and gives notice of major wins to come. Still well behind her local contemporaries in age, Grey Angel should mature into something out of the ordinary. The filly comes from the powerful Podlas stable.
Cape trainer Darryl Hodgson’s appeal against his warning off sentence is partially successful. A Jockey Club Board of Appeal substitutes the earlier conviction, and reduces the suspension to a six month warning off and a R25.000 fine. Hodgson’s major crime now is that he has brought racing into disrepute. Can the Jockey Club really call this a punishment that fits the crime, or are they simply out to make an example of someone?
Quote of the week goes to Topsport’s Martin Locke, who during the delayed start of the fifth race at Germiston (there is a dog on the in-field) remarks: “It is not often that you see a dog on a racecourse”.
Empress Club turns the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Gr1 Topsport Bloodline Classic, into a procession. The filly wins by over five lengths in a field of sixteen, accelerating impressively after Petros has set most of the (slowish early) pace. The unbeaten colt Secret Rites, bought in for R50.000 to qualify for the R500.000 added stake, runs way below best and fails to find a place. Cape Derby winner Corning Touch breaks down short of the post and has to be put down.
Empress Club has now won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, and pushes her earnings through the R1 million barrier.
At Scottsville, Royal Formula is the first Be Noble juvenile to race this season – and on its way to the special R40.000 bonus offered by the syndicate owners of stallion Be Noble. The breeder of this sire’s top stake earner from the crop of ’89, as calculated at the end of the ’92/’93 season, will get the R40.000 bonus. A further R10.000 lucky draw prize will also be won by one of the just twelve foals sired by Be Noble in this crop of ’89. It’ll be interesting to see how this, Be Noble’s second crop, performs between now and July next year.
MARCH 15 – 21
The Cape TAB launches the Viva scratch card game as part of its diversification programme “to satisfy the needs of the racing public and to create the revenue the racing industry needs”. The R2 Viva-tickets are now available at Cape Totes, together with Community Chest scratch cards, and M-Net Bonus Draw tickets.
Natal trainer Watkinson advertises in the Natal Computaform for horses to add to the string he is taking to the Cape for the winter season. The kind of horses he’s looking for include not only those with joint and knee problems that may benefit from the softer Cape going, but also “A and B-division horses so badly handicapped that the handicapper can ride them himself”.
Jockey Mawing and trainer Ferraris part company, and this time it is for good – perhaps. Mawing declines to comment on the apparent divorce, and is said to go freelance.
Jeff Lloyd confirms that he’s not available to fill the vacancy – he’s signed up by Natal trainer Willie Pieters for the season beginning in August ’92.
Shots are again fired at the homes of racing officials. Colin Dunn and Guy Hoffman become the latest targets in a spate of shootings. The Jockey Club still has an offer of R50.000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the culprits.
It is amazing how little the police has achieved to date in its investigation of the matter.
Cape owner Adams takes the Jockey Club and Cape Turf Club to task after the horse Heavyweight is eliminated at final declaration time from a race to be run at Milnerton. The Clubs play a highhanded game when it is decreed that the horse cannot run because it is trained by trainer Hodgson, who is warned off and therefore cannot saddle the horse. The owner states that such a decision is his prerogative, as he can move the horse to another trainer.
The Supreme Court sides with owner Adams, and the Clubs are forced to reinstate Heavyweight. The final decision comes after the official racecard has been printed, and causes much debate.
Come Saturday, Heavyweight (now officially in the care of trainer Kruyer) is well supported, but doesn’t manage better than fourth in the race.
Unbeaten juvenile colt Gallilee (for which a half share was on offer earlier in the season) is odds-on for the Durban Nursery, but finishes last.
On the Rand Divine Act just gets the better of Knife Edge in the Star Sprint Trial. The two have met four times so far, both winning twice.
MARCH 22 – 28
The yearly seminar for prospective buyers at the National Sales takes place at the TBA complex. The focus is on conformation and breeding of racehorses, tax implications and advantages of owning racehorses. Speakers include Graeme Hawkins (TBA), Robin Bruss (Delta Bloodstock), Phil Brouard (tax), Patrick Kohler (Jockey Club) and John Nicholson (trainer).
The TBA’s AGM provides its traditional fireworks. This time it’s owner and breeder St John Gray who does battle with the TBA Council.
An unbelievable spectacle takes place at Fairview in the fourth race – or at least that’s what the Stipes report has us believe. The horses Irishman and Son Of Bodrum suffer interference, according to the Stipes as follows: “King’s Equity shifted inwards forcing Cosmic Dance onto Ijsselmeer who was forced over Son Of Bodrum. Son Of Bodrum in turn was forced over Irishman. This resulted in Irishman and Son Of Bodrum having to check their mounts”. Not surprisingly an inquiry is opened into the incident. Horses checking their mounts – whatever next?
Turffontein Stipes, clearly not wanting to be left behind, state in their Saturday report that the horse Rose Imperial is scratched because of “slow disease”. Wonder whether that is curable?
Empress Club scores her third Gr1 win in the space of seven weeks when she wins the R1.25 million Administrator’s Cup. The Cup is a new handicap race that replaced the WFA Administrator’s Champion Stakes (or Holiday Inns, or Sun International, or call it what you like), run over 2000m at Turffontein.
Empress Club shows off her acceleration in a slowish run race, to win as she likes. Shining Conquest takes second place, while topweighted Flaming Rock encounters traffic problems and finishes fourth.
Main Man’s son Golden Man finishes like a train to catch front runner King Flirt short of the post in the Gr2 SA Nursery over the fast 1200m at the Turffontein track. It is one of Jeffrey Lloyd’s six winning rides on the day, but easily the most eyecatching victory.
Golden Man adds to the outstanding statistics of the young Villa Felice Stud of Peter Fenix in PE. Main Man has his first crop of juveniles racing this season and the Gr1 winning son of Trocadero seems to be getting his own back at stud on Bush Telegraph, who outdid him on the track.
MARCH 29 – APRIL 4
Irish auctioneer John O’Kelly returns for his now almost traditional visit to the National Yearling Sales at Germiston. The sale is attended by a score of visiting bloodstock agents (mainly from the UK and Ireland), who are seen to inspect many of the youngsters on offer, but don’t make much impact when it comes to bidding.
There are no bargains on the first day of the Sales. Many horses leave the ring unsold, and the auctioneers at one stage push 30 lots an hour through the ring.
Top price for the day is R260.000 for a full brother to Mystery Guest, secured by Mrs Oppenheimer, who also secured the preceding lot in the catalogue – for R130.000. Earlier in the session Mrs Oppenheimer bought a Russian Fox half brother to Bluffing. Another active first-day buyer is Peter Dimakogiannis, who gives the nod on eight yearlings for a total of R664.000. His highest priced purchase is the Foveros colt Fearless Reef at R200.000.
The roof falls in at the second day of the sales, with the average dropping to 48.000 as compared to the first day’s 59.000. But there are high prices: Susan Kalmanson goes to 200.000 to secure Goldmark’s own sister Dreaming Gold, the same amount as what the Polychromos syndicate optimistically bids for the first foal, by Our Casey’s Boy, out of 4-time winner Queensbury Bay. Laurie Jaffee goes to 270.000 for Stoneleigh’s colt Purser’s Guest, a son of Northern Guest which, as one bloodstock expert put it, “you can’t fault on conformation – a magnificent piece of horse”. Southford Stud’s David Southey is over the moon with the 200.000 his Secret Prospector colt Merensky fetches, but the day’s top price is paid by Willie Pieters. The Natal trainer has to bid 300.000 to secure the Foveros colt Fearless Soldier.
Day Three sees a further slide, the average reaching just over 47.000. Brian Moore goes to 200.000 for Favoured Fellow, predictably a son of Foveros. The colt, bred by Highlands, is a half brother to Smirnoff winner Steaming Jungle. Ormond Ferraris has to dig a little deeper for another Foveros colt, The Monk. Bred by Highflyer Stud, this son of Winter Lass (and half brother to The Eiger) makes it to 250.000. Three lots later in the day, Stoneleigh hits the jackpot again when Dandy Prince, an Elliodor three-parts brother to Model Man, is sold for 200.000 to Thoroughbred Services.
There’s little to be saved on the final day, when money slowly runs out. The day’s average at 46.000 is the lowest of the four days. Even so, this is the day at which the top price for the sale is realised, when Transvaal trainer Pat Shaw goes to 540.000 for Devonish, Devon Air’s yearling filly by Foveros. There appears to be some dispute as to the legitimacy of the final bid, and it remains to be seen where the filly ends up. There weren’t any other horses that broke the 200.000 barrier.
The 1992 National Sale ends up with an average of 48.600. Foveros is the highest selling sire, averaging 107.000 with 38 yearlings sold. His R4 million aggregate constitutes 13% of the sale’s total turnover. The ten top selling sires together accounted for 15 million worth of turnover, some 50% of total.
The Jockey Club increases its reward for information leading to the arrest of attackers on trainer Forbes and the property of several JC stewards from R50.000 to R100.000.
American Conection wins the R150.000 Bloodline Fillies Guineas over a mile at Gosforth Park, with odds-on favourite Grey Angel out of the places.