The rumpus about the news of the Snaith horse President Trump being gelded caused some sporting posts in this paper,” writes Malcolm Draper.
Barry Irwin said: “Absolutely hysterical from an American’s point of view”. Ronnie (Somebody) said: “When we had a horse called Obama Way, no hysteria was made the NHA… Where’s the consistency!” Ronnie might need a little help with punctuation so add a “?”
I said (edited and expanded): “Small world the horse world. Obama Way was a little 2007 Way West colt from a National Emblem mare I tried to bid on at Mooi River many years ago for our Zulu Lion’s River and ultimately Springbok polo star, Sbu Duma. Obama Way has ermine marks on his offside coronets which look like Nguni cattle hide. A friend Garth Reich was an owner and said they had given up on him earning money on the track, and that I should buy him for polo. Doug Campbell his trainer said he needs time and the owners were just being impatient. Doug outbid me and raced him. He nearly won a maiden but was beaten by a nose which got Doug the R10k back he had to pay. Thereafter he failed to place. He is now in Tommy Crowe’s polo string and playing high goal polo and is a highly thought of pony. Doug, Tommy and myself were looking at him and talking about him at Karkloof last year. Justin Snaith was there playing polo with us and joined in the horse talk.
I found some snaps I took which illustrate that real horsemen and women are found with the manure among the horses rather than with the mink and the madding crowd. In the bar later when the crowd assembled the talk turned to horses. Top handicapped Springbok player Tom De Bruin and his parents talked of the great polo ponies they’d got from veteran trainer Doug Campbell over the years. Doug played himself in his younger days and his son Stuart is a pro in the USA. I asked after Hurricane Nell, a gutsy little Way West filly that Tom’s mom, Leslie had outbid me on. I was shocked to hear she had taken ill and died, as did our King Jay who went from Lions River polo to race and win with Doug Campbell and then succumbed to colic while home on sabbatical. Horses make and break our hearts, but carry our stories and bring us together to share them in faraway places. For good reason the Angus Chaplin Memorial Trophy “For the love of a horse” was awarded to Eugene, Leslie & Tom de Bruin at SA Champs last year.
Where there are horses there is hope
After losing out on Hurricane Nell I bought a Way West filly called Cape Teazer. She was with Pat Lunn and has turned out to be a stonking mare and star polo pony. She did not win on the track but brought home some red rosettes from a Western Mounted Games show.
After losing King Jay I went after another King of Kings colt on the sale. I was outbid, but followed him on the racecourse and persuaded the owner to sell him to me once he’d had his chances. He now is a gelding who arrived from Craig Eudey a few months ago. Craig takes in rescues for the Coastal Horse Care Unit, proving wrong critics who say that trainers don’t care.
With very little preparatory homework, a few weekends ago Clash of Kings, the new kid on the block, went to a Western Mounted Games training show and acquitted himself with great aplomb. Never having seen, let alone entered the arena, he beat a young up and coming homebred American Quarter Horse from the stud hosting the show. Their family comes from the line originally imported from America by Gary Player before he went in for Thoroughbreds. Clash’s first keyhole run which involves a rundown, stop, rollback and return was a clear and decent time belying the myth that racehorses lack brakes. In his first chukka at polo the next day he played calmly as an old schoolmaster and living up to his name, showed great courage and confidence in riding off the opposition. Russell Watson our chairman, veteran player and the most capped Springbok said Clash has a great attitude and huge potential.
One of my green OTTBs, who is a year older and bigger than Clash and has a season of experience behind him, baulked hard at the sight of a melee of ponies ahead. I went down hard on my head and remarked to me club mates from the ground that I was lucky not to have broken my neck which is still recovering. Such accidents make one glad to be alive and grateful for a little horse with a big heart.
Whilst I have lost forever my horse King Jay and my winning team mates Sbu Duma and Simon Pearse I live in hope. Maningi, the late Sbu’s daughter rides with us and is full of joy. Like her late father she is small, loves horses and her name means “Lots of”.