APRIL 5 – 11
Cape Provincial authorities start an investigation into legalised sport betting as an additional source of income, but rumours that greyhound racing is to be re-introduced are squashed by the province.
New MEC for racing Danie le Roux states that the Cape has the power to allow betting on sporting events, but recommendations from an inter provincial liaison committee suggest that such decisions should be taken at cabinet level.
In the USA Polish-born airplane broker Henryk de Kwiatkowski buys the bankrupt Calumet Farm for $17 million, and gives notice of his intention to keep that famous horse-breeding property unchanged.
He outbids Lebanse business man Issam Fares at a court supervised auction. De Kwiatowski lives in the Bahamas and is best known for his 1982 Horse of the Year Conquistador Cielo, now a successful sire.
“I’m ecstatic”, says Henryk after the sale of 336ha farm. “This is a nice investment for my children”.
The auction, at which there are only two bidders, lasts about 10 minutes. It draws nearly 3000 spectators in a huge tent on the grounds of the lush farm, which has produced eight Kentucky Derby winners. Calumet had filed for bankrupcy protection from creditors last June to fend off debts estimated at $127 million.
Wonder horse Arazi wins his first outing as a three-year-old, in the Prix Omnium II, a listed race for 3yo colts over a mile at St Cloud in Paris. Ridden by Steve Cauthen, Arazi goes seven lengths clear about two furlongs out and comes home unchallenged. His owner Paulsen is quoted as saying that Arazi is “only 60% fit”, while jockey Cauthen is “more impressed with him every time I ride him”. Next stop is the Kentucky Derby, for which Arazi now is odds-on favourite.
The Bloemfontein Turf Club takes over from Milnerton as the Club with the worst race-timing record. At this week’s meeting every single one of the races on the card is posted as “no time taken” – what they really mean is “we don’t care at all”. Let’s see how long it’ll take for Club and Stipes to get their act together again.
Divine Act gives trainer Cliff Otto the biggest win of his career when he wins the R400.000 Star Sprint over 1200m at Turffontein. Divine Act fights on gamely to hold off Senor Santa by a short head, after the latter puts in what appears to be a winning finishing burst in the last furlong. Knife Edge is third.
At Greyville veteran jockeys return to the saddle in the now traditional Steel World Veterans race. Freddie Macaskill and Billie Harvey, both still active in the saddle, clearly have an unfair advantage. They finish first and second on Boundless Love and Didgeridoo. Short priced favourite Mount Siki, ridden by last year’s victor Dennis Bosch, runs a close third.
APRIL 12 – 18
Nijinsky, the last horse to win the Triple Crown (Guineas, Derby, St Leger), is put down at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky, aged 25. Nijinsky, a son of Northern Dancer, sired the winners of the Epsom and Kentucky Derby amongst his many highclass offspring. Nijinsky is likely to have a lasting influence on the stud books of the world.
Jocky Eric Chelin rides all four legs of the Cape Jackpot.
The distance of the Gr1 Natal Oaks is reduced from 2400m to 2000m on recommendation of the Jockey Club’s standing subcommittee on Graded Races. The committee is disappointed with the quality of field the race attracts and believes that the change in distance will strengthen the quality of the field. This seems rather nonsensical as the same horses are bound to be competing over the somewhat shorter distance.
The Roll of Honour for the race (which dates back to 1972) shows staying fillies Free Style, Sandanguera, Taima Bluff, Arcole, Respectable – as well as Velozia, Kiss of Peace, Enchanted Garden, highclass fillies who were best over less than 2400. Would the results have been any different if the race had been 2000m instead of 2400m from its inception? The Jockey Club’s standing subcommittee appears to have little understanding of the effects of pace on South African racing programme in general, or the effects of one or more sub-standard crops. More so, the Club’s unnecessary tampering with tradition is surprising to say the least.
According to press reports, the industry is divided on the merits of the change. In Natal several major raceclubs, breeders and trainers express surprise and disappointment at the change.
South African buyers arrive in force at the Australian Easter Yearling Sale and spend some R5 million on almost 50 yearlings.
The Gr2 SA Oaks, still run over 2450m at Turffontein, and the Gr2 SA Derby over the same distance, both fall to trainer Ferraris – hook, line and sinker. The Ferraris stable (Ormond is in Australia at the yearling sales) saddles the first four past the post in the Oaks, with the Elevation filly Daddy’s Darling collecting the major prize after holding off Sparkling Tandy who’d been backed to favourite. In the Derby the stable has the first three past the post, with Launching Pad holding off Fluent Stride and Fine Regent. Ferraris’ most fancied one in the race, 28/10 favourite Valete, runs fifth.
APRIL 19 – 25
In Canton, China, the horse Sudden Blessing wins the Golden Horse Cup. The race is China’s first major horse race since 1949. Admission tickets to the track carry lottery numbers, offering a first prize of about $10.000 dollars – a fortune by Chinese standards. The winner of the lottery asks for police protection and is escorted off the track.
The big race is televised live and marks the return of regular, organised racing in China. But betting on horse racing remains forbidden: gambling in one of China’s Six Deadly Sins. Wonder what will happen to racing in Hong Kong when China takes over later this decade.
At Newmarket the parade ring and winner’s box are paved with rubber bricks.
South Africa’s Law Society expresses disapproval and the expression “They’re Off” takes on a whole new meaning when The Ringer sheds all – well, almost all. Attorney Robert Bloomberg, The Ringer to 087 cognoscenti, runs advertisements in the local press showing himself off on the bonnet of a sports model, with only a strategically placed Computaform between himself and a suit for indecent exposure.
Mysterious Hal scores a Bloodline Million double for his trainer Spies and part-owner Makins, who had won the race last year with Fast Gun. Mysterious Hal, a R20.000 National Sales buy, is a son of Harry Hotspur, who sires the first three past the post.
APRIL 26 – MAY 2
In Natal pre-race “dope”-testing is introduced. It will become practice to test horses at random within 48 hours before a meeting. This is different from the pre-race testing practiced in the Transvaal some time ago, when samples were taking on racedays – to which trainers took exception.
French raider Hatoof survives a steward’s inquiry and gives trainer Criquette Head her third English 1000 Guineas success. Hatoof is ridden by Walter Swinburn.
Two days later fifty-six year old Lester Piggot scores his 30th “Classic” win when Sangster-owned Roger de Triana wins the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.
The sheer length of time of Piggot’s pre-eminence is mind boggling: Don Bradman was still captain of Australia when Piggot, all of twelve years old, won his first race at Haydock in 1948. And starting with Crepello in 1957, his five 2000 Guineas victories have been gained in separate decades. Piggot’s chief asset remains his judgement of pace and acute tactical sense, qualities sharpened by experience rather than blunted by advancing age.
Politician’s son Signor Amigo confirms his sprinting prowess by taking the Rupert Ellis Brown Memorial Plate over 1200m at Clairwood, running on well.
In the Cape Glenconner takes the first leg of the Cape Winter Challenge, winning over a mile at Milnerton. The remaining two legs in the series for three-year-olds are run at level weights and over more ground, which should give Glenconner every opportunity to score in all three legs.