They obviously don’t need the money! So suggested outspoken leading Cape trainer Joey Ramsden in a reference to his colleagues’ lack of patronization of Cape racing as evidenced by the anorexic fields again on Sunday 19 February.
And maybe Joey has a point. Other than the nice field that turned out for the afternoon’s unsponsored Gr 3 feature, the Western Cape field sizes, and let us not forget about procuring sponsors, remain a problem for the racing operator. And laying the blame for thin fields at the door of the dominance of the few large yards is one thing – solving the predicament another issue entirely.
If one takes the large yards as Ramsden, Kannemeyer, Snaith , Bass and Marshall, then they certainly do dominate. Unavoidable and uncontrollable in a free enterprise economy, they collectively sent out 46 of the 83 runners on the afternoon. Those statistics can’t be healthy, and the KZN and PE models seem to work a helluva lot better it seems.
The entire issue of dominance, or monopolies, as the drama queens prefer to label it, begins and ends with money. With it comes power and the ability to influence and control. And it is surely a case of hard economic realities that our owner and breeder ranks have shrunk progressively over the last few years. A few have got very strong – most have gone backwards.
While Pat and Henry Devine celebrated a winning owner double for the seemingly back-in-form Mike Bass yard, it was the Jooste silks that dominated the Kenilworth skyline. The reality is that Markus Jooste feeds over 20% of the runners that came racing on Sunday. In terms of what appears to be a dramatic and very understandable shift in policy, the powerful businessman now also spreads his eggs over many baskets. His sixteen runners on the afternoon are domiciled with six different trainers and his three different winners are trained by Vaughan Marshall, Joey Ramsden and Justin Snaith. Jooste also has breeding interests to consider, and he also needs the support of a wide cross-section of trainers with varying buying power.
And, like it or not, there is no doubt that the Jooste show is being run professionally as a business. Their racing manager Derek Brugman gave Ramsden an accolade by announcing that he headed their trainer ratios with a favourable income/expenses return of 120%. Brugman added with a smile that the other trainers had better take a leaf out of Ramsden’s book – basically pull up their socks!. And one just gets the feeling that he meant it!
Vaughan Marshall sent out the first Jooste winner when the Captain Al debutante All Is Secret came out firing to win the Maiden Plate over 1200m easing up. Out of the brilliant racemare Secrets Of Victoria, she showed maturity and lots of fire and gave MJ Byleveld an armchair ride. Marshall will be the first to exercise a measure of restraint when it comes to rating her as he knows well that many two year olds don’t train on. But she certainly looks quite special at this point.
Joey Ramsden then stepped into the spotlight when he sent Bronco Buster out to win the MR74 Handicap over 1400m – just a week after winning his maiden. Ramsden admitted that he only took his chances as the field cut down to nothing. And it was a well justified call with the gelding leading all the way and kicking twice in the straight to win well. He has been a model of consistency and may pay to follow.
Justin Snaith then closed the afternoon for the Joostes when he sent out Drill Sargeant to win the last race, a Maiden Plate over 2200m. In a fairly slow run affair, Sean Cormack almost burgled it on another Jooste horse for Joey Ramsden as Afore The Flow led all the way but for the meter before the line.
For those astute punters who watch the Snaith interviews regularly , Justin Snaith said some time ago that this son of Dynasty would not be long in winning – although he took nine runs to do so. Felix Coetzee rode a well judged race and he obviously is a staying sort who could get better – maybe a PE Gold Cup prospect for later this year?