Seasoned journalist Dave Mollett seemed a bit cheesed off on Sunday about the lack of media accommodation for the Gr2 Emerald Cup raceday at the Emerald Resort on the banks of the Vaal River this weekend. But with today’s technology and social media facilities, does the sport really even need to pander up to the traditional racing journalist?
Molly is one of the very few old salt respected journalists left and he says what he thinks when he chooses and owes the game nothing really. The man certainly gets around too, popping up in exotic destinations from Singapore to Ascot to York. Personally I couldn’t imagine then what he’d find so fascinating about a trip down to Vereeniging on a September Saturday, but it is bound to be festive. And Lucky Houdalakis’ braai spot is apparently the place to be seen.
One just gets the feeling that horseracing is in quite a comfort zone. I know how I personally chase around the place for information, press releases and pictures and backgrounds to facilitate reasonable promotion and exposure of the good stuff that we enjoy – the racing and successes.
It is frustrating too when we are making a fuss about events, when even the organisers seem rather laid back and cool about it.
It was thus quite an eye-opener when our friends North of the Limpopo proactively asked if we could cover the Zimbabwe Awards this past Saturday evening. Our good friend Nico Kritsiotis, who is ill in hospital, was scheduled to be the guest speaker at the Ipi Tombe venue but had to call on his colleague Gareth Pepper to read his speech.We have had sight of Nico’s tripd own memory lane, and hope to have the chance to publish it soon for those interested.
The Emerald Cup feature race should though provide one helluva spectacle with a maximum field of fourteen going to post. It is wonderful to see the likes of Capetonians Joey Ramsden and Mike Bass roving out of their comfort zones to support Highveld Racing, together with the Sham-Steenkamp PE combination. It is a tough ask on any day to win the Emerald Cup, and no visitor is yet to get it right. Let’s hope that changes on Saturday.
Terrance Millard set the raiding benchmark on the turf over 25 years and one thinks of the likes of Potomac and Enchanted Garden, who did outstandingly well. Millard was a big protagonist of allowing horses a month or two to acclimatize.
Although both Dean Kannemeyer (Free My Heart) and Joey Ramsden (Taupo Retreat) have raided with isolated success in recent years, nobody has quite hit the right notes since.
Justin Snaith won’t mind us mentioning his negative experiences with top horses like Run For It, Gimmethegreenlight and even the brilliant Dancer’s Daughter, who never ran again after her victory in the 2009 Gr1 Empress Club Stakes.
A seasoned racing expert suggested earlier this week that the Emerald Cup is very much a last chance saloon type race for horses who aren’t going anywhere really. That may or may not be accurate, with four 4yo’s making up the field and the rest established older horses.
Looking back on the winner’s roll, that theory takes on some momentum and accuracy though and possibly connections shouldn’t expect too much afterwards either.
Of the seven past winners, only Hilti (2005) and Phunyuka (2009) ever went on to win another race. The rest, including National Spirit(2006), Narc (2007), Alimony (2008), Iron Curtain (2010) and The Mouseketeer(2011) never won again. Mind you, the last mentioned gets another chance as a 5yo this year, but he must surely rank a good few lengths behind the likes of his stablemates, Across The Ice and Mr Tobin.
The stake at R600 000,while punted as Africa’s richest sand race is no great shakes really once costs(especially for the travellers) and trainers and jockeys commissions have been settled. In general terms the state of the regression of the racing financial model in real terms is illustrated by the fact that Narc won it for a gross R560 000 five years ago.
And as far as the sideshows on the day go, I can’t help thinking that the Heuwels Fantasties will be the big winner on the day.This Bellville-based Pop Group, that nobody I know has ever heard of, have received more air-time than Mr Tobin, In A Rush and Martin Rice’s excellent casino combined.
Tellytrack presenter Jimmy Lithgow suggested earlier in the week that the name of the group conjured up images in his mind’s eye of singing nuns on the lines of ‘the hills are alive with the sound of music..’ Jimmy is in for a shock methinks!
I’m being a sucker, but according to the Heuwels Fantasties website, Hunter and Pierre wrote their first track when they were 15 and 16 years old respectively. Hunter was still playing for New World Inside with Francois van Coke (Fokofpolisiekar, Van Coke Kartel) and Pierre was in the group Time Spent with Wynand Myburgh (Fokofpolisiekar, Van Coke Kartel) and Laudo Liebenberg (aKING). More recently Hunter was in Fokofpolisiekar and Pierre in Lukraaketaar.
When their bands took a break in 2007 and they again started hanging out in Bellville, something I didn’t know anybody did anymore, the grouping was inevitable. They have produced albums with intriguing titles such as Pille Vir Kersfees (pills for Christmas) and Wilder As Did Wildtuin (Wilder than the Game Reserve)
Sounds an unlikely bloody fairytale. But go racing at the Vaal and see them live.
It is bound to be an eye-opener- if nothing else!
All The Best, Lionel!
We owe former Cape trainer Lionel Witkowksy an apology.
In an article entitled ‘Not A Dry Eye In The House’ in last weekend’s edition (SP 1869) we covered the early history of Arlington Racecourse and mentioned
An email from Jenny Steyn, wife of Cape trainer Andries, has set the record straight.
Jenny advises that her Dad, Lionel Witkowsky is very much alive and kicking at the age of 83. He was in fact at his granddaughter’s wedding on Saturday.
Sweet Little What?
We are in the process of compiling a listing of the most repetitive, tired and annoying words and stupid phrases or comments that one comes across every day in horseracing: .
1. There is no media accommodation.
2. Press Release-what do you mean?
3. This horse will go a mile and a half – eventually.
4. Maybe we should try a set of blinkers
5. I don’t think he enjoyed the blinkers.
6. This stallion just hasn’t had the mares.
7. You must be thrilled
8. Strydom is so bloody negative
9. This game tames lions
10. He isn’t a bad trainer…
11. Nobody in this building reads the ABC forum
12. The matter has been tabled
13. I value the gelding at R1 million
14. She lacks pace but has the blood to make it as a broodmare
15. I think he will enjoy the sand
16. The Vet suggested the operation
17. Who is Mike Azzie’s tailor?
18. My Grooms are my key personnel
19. I do this only for the love of the game
20. I could do Derek Brugman’s job with my eyes closed
21. Who is the younger brother – Craig or Sheldon Peters?
22. This Maiden race is just like a Met win for me
23. Mike De Kock can afford to say what he thinks
24. Export Protocols will soon be a thing of the past
25. Andrew Fortune is a health nut
26. When are we getting the second channel?
27. I deny saying that
28. Jamie Oliver is in charge of catering at Turffontein