AUGUST 2 – 8
At a Jockey Club inquiry, Natal trainer Doug Campbell is found guilty as the person responsible for the horse Didgeridoo, whose specimen is found to have traces of Equipalazone. Campbell submits that a groom with a grudge administered the anti-inflammatory drug, meant for another horse, to Didgeridoo. Campbell is fined R15.000.
Cape trainer Eric Sands scores a 5-minute feature double when fillies Double d’Or (Elliodor) and Foverflo (Foveros) win the main race at Greyville and Kenilworth respectively.
In the UK, jockey Steve Cauthen takes on the Jockey Club on the new rulings pertaining to usage of the whip. Most jockeys in Britain feel that application of the rule is far too limiting for them to be able to give their horses every chance of winning. Cauthen is assisted in his plea at Portman Square by an array of other riders, including Michael Roberts. But the witnesses waste their breath as, predictably, the jockeys make little headway in their quest for the sensible approach.
South African champion Jeff Lloyd wins his very first start in England, at Newmarket at that. Lloyd is on a seven-week visit and attached to the stable of Richard Hannon, currently the leading trainer with earnings of over œ1 million. Hannon has 150 horses in training, so Lloyd won’t be short of rides.
After nine weeks of racing without bookmakers at the Port Elizabeth tracks, the East Cape Racing management board and the local bookmakers resolve their differences. The dispute arises when the raceclubs raised the collective stand-up fee of the bookmakers from R2800 to R5000 per meeting. Neither of the parties is prepared to disclose details of the settlement reached.
The Gr1 Champion Stakes, as has become usual in the last years, attracts a small field and results in a false run race. Queen’s Plate winner I’m Taking It and Mainstay victor Military Muse dictate proceedings throughout, while Olympic Duel and Flaming Rock race much too far out of their ground to make an impact. Military Muse makes use of his useful turn of foot and wins easily.
“Tip-Of-the-Month” award goes to the M-Net team of Ramsay and Harrison, who have a post-race discussion after Military Muse’s win in the Champion Stakes. About the winner’s sire Call The Guard the two agreed “we haven’t heard much of him, but his service fee is bound to go up this season”.
Wonder what else the twosome will dig up: Call The Guard has been very dead for almost two years now.
Also run at Greyville, as one of the trio of major races run in one day, is the Gr3 Summerveld Stakes, which often shows up who the best three-year-olds for the coming season will be. Olympic Duel’s full brother Dancing Duel gives notice of his intentions for 1993, although his winning margin is rapidly diminishing as Genial (a son of Gate Dancer) puts in a very late finish.
Floating Casino wins the third of the trio, the Gr1 Gold Cup, at 14/1 (and a whole lot longer at Tote-odds). The 3200m race is run at a moderate pace early on, and Floating Casino makes an early break for it well before entering the straight – a bold move that pays off. There is controversy when the outside bank of starting stalls is seen to open slightly before the rest of the stalls. But in a split decision, the starter declines to call a false start for the 19-runner field. As the first eight horses home started from the “slow” bank of stalls, it’s hard to criticise the starter’s decision.
AUGUST 9 – 15
Churchill Downs president Thomas H Meeker stresses unity and improved customer service as a primary weapon in the thoroughbred industry’s battle to attract new participants.
Meeker blasts the industry’s “chicken little” mentality. “We have got to start believing in our product again in order to compete with other forms of gambling. We have lost sight of where we’re going and how the industry should be run. It isn’t run by trainers, like they try to tell me, or their owners. It isn’t run by breeding farms, it isn’t run by track management, it isn’t run by the racing commissioners, and it isn’t run by the jockeys. Our industry is run by the customers. We should start asking the folks who pay the bill when they spend their money wagering on our product ‘what do you want, and what is the product you are willing to pay for’”.
Meeker says that customer requests and responses had prompted improvements in Churchill Downs’ product, including the start of twilight racing and track-produced information about handicapping and betting. “We have to be creative in delivering good, sound, fundamental products to our customers. But marginal operations – be they tracks, owners, or jockeys – have to be culled, as is the case in virtually every other industry in America today”.
Meeker warns that the thoroughbred industry must work for a common cause and react rapidly to problem.
He calls on Kentucky thoroughbred groups to pursue an aggressive campaign to simulcast Kentucky racing throughout the nation. “Kentucky racing needs an outlet for its product. Kentucky racing is perfectly postured to move into other markets and to pre-empt other racing jurisdictions from moving into those same markets. And when casinos come along, we want to be positioned to deliver racing products to compete against them”.
The National Two-year-old Sale shows a 12% drop in average of 255 lots sold. Highest price is R100.000 paid by Michael Azzie for the Bush Telegraph filly Secret Pact, whose dam Soho Secret bred eight other winners.
Jockeys in Britain are given the go-ahead to wear advertising motifs on their breeches and boots (from January 1). Owners, who have right of veto, will get 10% of the proceeds.
The Natal Mercury holds an emotional plea for the establishment of a national stud. The dissertation also suggests a location – quote: “Natal has led the way in recent years in the importation of top breeding stock, and the Natal Midlands has proved itself an ideal thoroughbred breeding area – a perfect site for a national or provincial stud because of its position midway between the Cape and the Reef”.
Presumably the Mercury means Natal’s position on the breeder’s list, midway between Cape and Reef breeders ..
In the Cape the TAB launches the “Mystery Bet” – whereby punters ask the Tote’s computer to randomly select them a bet. Mystery bets are available on swinger, trifecta and quartet, and on all of the exotic pots.
Mystery bets reportedly have been successful in Hong Kong. Whether this bet will catch on with the current Cape racing population remains to be seen. If off course Totes were more easily accessible (read: recognised) to non-racing people, chances of success for this lottery-type bet would seem infinitely greater.
Paul Gadsby returns to the jockey ranks after a spell as a trainer (of San Carlos, amongst others). He rides two winners at Clairwood in his first week back in the saddle.
Turnover at the National Two-year-old Sale, held at the TBA’s Germiston complex, is well down. Vendors complain of a bad sale. The average price for the 255 lots knocked down in the salering is R10.850 – some twelve percent lower than at the corresponding sale in 1991.
Top price of R100.000 is paid for the filly Secret Pact, the 12th foal of her dam Soho Secret who has bred eight useful winners to date. The price is the highest ever paid at any of the August Sales, past or present.
The Cape Turf Club has its AGM, where a loss of R5.5 million is announced, the first official one in the club’s 84-year history.
Stewards apportion blame to anything they can think of – from sports betting to casino’s to economic circumstances – except, of course, themselves.
A member calls from the floor for the Province to bail out the Club – or as Mr LE Frank puts it: “Surely the solution is to reduce taxation and allow the clubs to get back on their feet? The Provincial Administration is killing the goose that lays the golden egg!”. That’s right, of course: when in doubt blame Province and the taxation, never your own incompetence.
Both Cape clubs, in conjunction with the Cape Racing Board, commission the Management Services division of Deloitte Pim Goldby to urgently undertake an in-depth review of “the viability, and effectivity, of the Cape racing structure at all levels”.
One immediate result of the loss is that stewards will no longer entertain guests on normal racedays and will even pay for their own drinks.
In the meantime, however, the Milnerton Steward Quarters remain where they are: at the course’s prime viewing point, opposite the finish. Which shows just how much the Club means business, especially when the outgoing chairman states that “many innovations are in the pipeline to make racing more attractive and pleasurable to racegoers”. Interestingly, the chairman also states that stakes will have to be reviewed critically in the light of potential savings, accounting as they do for 49 percent of the club’s budgeted expenditure. Presumably the chairman didn’t mean that stakes should account for a higher % of total expenditure.
What will it take to get some real thinking going in racing’s battered ranks?
Gosforth Park stages its first – and last – breakfast meeting, to avoid a clash with the televised rugby match against the visiting All Blacks. The club’s Tote is well down on normal business.
At Clairwood, too, a breakfast meeting takes place. Feature event of the morning is Natal Mercury Sprint. New sprint-star Signor Amigo gets up in a nailbiter to deprive Rock Candy, who’d just got the better of Marie Galante after a sustained battle. The three are separated by a short and a long head.
AUGUST 16 – 22
Local Cape racing awards are made at Milnerton. Peter Kannemeyer collects the leading trainer’s title, with 73 winners including the J&B Met with Divine Master. Mark Khan is the Cape jockey of the year, Jean Nel the best apprentice.
At a Jockey Club investigation jockey Andrew Fortune earns himself an eight-week suspension for failing to give Casey Smith every chance to win. In a maiden race a week earlier, Fortune put away his stick after hitting the front on Casey Smith and seemed to take things easy – only to be caught on the post.
One day after sentencing, Fortune rides a treble at Milnerton.
English Two Thousand Guineas winner Rodrigo de Triano returns to his best form in a Gr1 race at York, winning at 8/1 and as in the Guineas partnered by Piggot. Rodrigo had failed to come up to expectations after the Guineas.
Much vaunted Arazi, on the other hand, hasn’t yet made it back to the track, but is reported to be working well.
Michael Roberts wins the Nunthorpe Stakes on Lyric Fantasy, first juvenile to win the race since 1956. The filly has now won all of her five races, including a victory at Royal Ascot, where she became the first of her age to break the one minute barrier for the Ascot five furlongs. Said Roberts: “At the start I felt lost on such a small filly lined up against the big sprinters. I knew she was good, but not this good”.
Roberts had wasted five pounds down to 7st8lbs (48 kilos) to be able to make the weight on Lyric Fantasy, who is now a likely contender for the Prix de l’Abbeye on Arc-day.
The Rugby-circus hits the Cape, and it is Milnerton’s turn to stage a breakfast meeting. On a wind-swept and chilly day most of Cape Town’s punters, lethargic at the best of times, don’t quite make it to the track, where – as one out-of-town visitor puts it – “you can drive a bus through the stands and not hit anyone”.
Fov’s Dancer, again troublesome at the start and drawn wide, comes with a late run to score in the Gr2 Golden Slipper at Clairwood. Fov’s Dancer will return to the Cape (where she the Fillies Nursery last March) to contest the Fillies Guineas.
AUGUST 23 – 29
Kenyan woman jockey Julie Andrade, weighing in at 43 kilos, pays a month-long working visit to the Cape.
Olympic Duel, winner of 12 races and R1.6 million, retires to stud. The mare is expected to be covered in Natal before moving to Excelsior Stud in Robertson, where she was raised and where her dam still resides. Part-owner Luke Bailes states that Olympic Duel may visit either Foveros or Secret Prospector in her first season.
Admiralty Arch, at 20/1, scores a surprise win in the Gr2 Gold Vase from an equally unfancied Proud Pilgrim. The pace is a slow one and Admiralty Arch wins mainly because of tactics than anything else. The first eight horses home finish within 4 lengths of each other, giving further strength to a false-pace argument. The jockey of third finisher Padina Express unsuccessfully objects against both the winner and runner-up.
Herman Brown Jr, trainer of Admiralty Arch, meets his bride Natasha at the altar a few hours after the race, reportedly without objections.
Trainer Brown Sr, not to be outdone, stages an upset when Crystal Charlie wins the supporting feature at Clairwood, the Natal Breeders Challenge. Charlie’s stable companion Hot Guard was a well supported favourite, but failed to find a place in what clearly was a false run race.