Faulty lifts, delayed planes, solar outages and absent false rails. An eventful Friday afternoon from Port Elizabeth to Singapore and a great way to celebrate April Fool’s eve.
With the big weekend of racing that lies ahead at Meydan and Turffontein, we should probably also be thankful to the racing gods for dishing out the silly curved balls today.
Educational and enlightening. That was Friday 30 March. We learnt that a solar outage occurs because the Sun, which is a powerful broadband microwave noise source, passes directly behind the satellite and the receiver, with the beam directed towards the satellite, picks up both the satellite signal and the noise from the Sun.
That meant the Arlington fifth race being delayed by five minutes as the television signal disappeared and our screens turned blue. The shenanigans in space also affected the horses it appears, as the result of the delayed race produced top runs from a 20-1 and 100-1 outsider, with the favourite Pirate Queen running a shocker.
This race was down the straight, but the races around the turn appear to have cried out for a false rail with some scrimmaging and dodgy results. The lack of a false rail looks to have been the underlying factor in the upset results. Then delayed flights meant that Muzi Yeni arrived on course late and only prior to the third race. Anthony Delpech never arrived at all.
The myth and legend that blankets the colourful characters and terminology we take for granted in this game, often have seemingly fantastical origins. Ever wondered where the simple term of an ‘upset’ originates?
The rather stretched reality is that It dates back almost a century to 1919 and one of the biggest ‘upsets’ in horseracing history. Saratoga racecourse was the scene of the only career defeat in 21 starts for the brilliant Man o’ War. Named by Blood-Horse magazine as one of the greatest racehorses in history, he ran second after a bungled start on August 12, 1919, to a horse that he had already beaten six times previously. That horse’s name was, you guessed it, Upset!
So can horseracing genuinely take credit for producing a term that is universally used in sports, politics and business? We have our doubts and an article in the New York Times of July 1877, confirms our cynical view:
‘The programme for to-day at Monmouth Park indicates a victory for the favourite in each of the four events, but racing is so uncertain that there may be a startling upset.’
This was published fully four decades prior to Upset’s shock defeat of Man o’ War! As Ripleys would say…!
On a strange Friday, silence also fell over the Kranji racemeeting with regular race-caller Matt Jones stranded in a lift. The Australian born former Harness Racing commentator found himself rather awakwardly between floors. The thirty-four year old, who once had the honour of being a member of the Grand National commentary team, was soon back behind the microphone thanks to the organisational skills and professionalism of the Singapore Turf Club.
Could this happen here? Never! Well, we hope so!
Western Cape racing has been running solo on the dulcet tones of KFM DJ Rouvaun Smit for some time now, with senior race-caller Jehan Malherbe attending his business interests and taking in the excellent racing in Dubai. Smit is a crowd favourite and a soldier. But as anybody who has travelled in the creaky lifts at Kenilworth will attest, there are no guarantees that Cape racing may not find itself without a voice .
Local Gold Circle Racing Executive Mike Greeff used to call the Eastern Cape hurdle races in days gone by, but even he would admit that he is no natural Nat king Cole when it comes to this tough job. Young Phillip Sarembock was being trained at one stage as the Cape’s back-up caller, but he was given the boot after doing something silly like answering his cell-phone in the middle of a race. He was no slouch though and Gold Circle, or is it Phumelela these days, may want to give some thought to mending their relationship and having him near when Smit is stuck in a lift – or even in the dining room.