NOVEMBER 3 – 9
The ranks of the old guard are thinned further as twenty-three-year-old Elevation dies of a heart attack.
Felix Coetzee is spotted once again by the Mauritian racing magazine, when he walks the tight course on the island.
Everyone on the island has great respect for the South African champion – everyone except Chequers, that is. This former South African horse unceremoniously deposits Coetzee on the track and has a training gallop all by himself.
M-Net shows a live broadcast of the Melbourne Cup at 6.45 in the morning. The broadcast time is poorly promoted both by M-Net and the media, and many viewers miss the opportunity to watch a real spectacle. Prize of the Month goes to the Cape Times, which appeared on that same Tuesday morning with the heading “Aussie’s Greatest”, then proceeds: “The race begins at 3.30pm (0430 GMT) and will be televised in more than 50 countries including the US, Britain, Japan and Hong Kong”. Not a word about M-Net’s transmission, nor the fact that the SA off-time had been 6.45am.
Jockey Club GM George Morrison states in a radio interview that applications from girls to become jockeys will be considered by the Jockey Club. Morrison adds that the Jockey Club has always had this policy, but never had any formal applications. In South Africa apprentices can only qualify to become jockeys by attending the SA Jockey Academy in Natal.
Morrisson’s statement throws not only the press, but also several of the stipendiary stewards in charge of recruitment in racing centres around the country. As one stipe puts it: “This is news to me. We have never accepted girls. I have told them we don’t have the facilities and advise them to do their apprenticeship overseas”.
Peculiarly, in an interview with a major racing magazine where Morrison outlines the concept of the Jockey Academy, he repeatedly refers to “the boys”.
Not surprisingly sources within the industry remain sceptical about the Jockey Club’s seriousness with respect to female jockeys.
Newest Cape-trainer David Ferraris scores with his very first runner when Happy Crossing scrapes home by a nostril at Kenilworth.
The first juvenile races are won by the progeny of Harry Hotspur, The Dinmont and Hard Up.
Transvaal juvenile Be Warned (the horse that had been nominated to run in September) fails to show in his first start at Newmarket.
The first of the major races for three-year-olds is the Gr2 Invitation Stakes run over a mile at Scottsville. Provincial teams of jockeys (four in each of three provincial teams) are invited to ride on the day. Horses and jockeys are matched up by lot.
The Transvaal team wins, with jockey Doug Whyte the victor ludorum. The Gr2 Invitation Stakes goes to the colt Secret Rites. This son of freshman sire Secret Prospector (Mr Prospector – Secret Asset by Graustark) wins nicely, and can now stake his claim as the best three-year-old colt in South Africa.
Notable absentees on the day are Michael Roberts and Felix Coetzee. Roberts wins a graded race for his European trainer, while Felix joins the ranks of the immortals in Mauritius when he rides the winners of five of the six races on the card. It is a feat previously attained only by Basil Lewis, Allan Lilley, Johnny Wilson and Mark Grigsby.
Coetzee is particularly impressive when he partners the beautifully actioned Chequers to victory in the Sir Radhamohun Gujadhur Cup in course record time. Second favourite Sea Warrior is second, followed by Golden Clime, Marabar Hills and Jungle Rocket. The victory secures for Chequers the Mauritian horse of the year title, having run eight times for five wins and two places.
At Gosforth Park, Knife Edge makes it five wins out of six starts in the Joseph Dorfman Memorial handicap. Knife Edge wins the 1000m race by three lengths in 56.2 seconds.
At Kenilworth on the same day, jockey Andrew Fortune rides four winners on the eight-race card.
For people who follow cycles, Kenilworth is the place to be. The third race (Race 225) is won by Running Footman, who beats Golden Carol by half a length. In the same week a year earlier, Running Footman had also won – by half a length from Golden Carol. The race number? Why, Race 225, of course!
NOVEMBER 10 – 16
Leading trainer Jean Heming bans stable jockey Rhys van Wyk from riding her horses in gallops. Van Wyk had been advertising a punter’s advice service by telephone under the slogan “Get it straight from the jockey’s mouth”.
The telephone service with charged calls is brand-new to South Africa, and every Tom, Dick and Harry with a betting account to support has climbed on the bandwagon.
SAROA issues a press release, stating the owner’s organisation believes that owner’s are entitles to determine who rides their horses, and who doesn’t, and that trainers are obliged to respect the owner’s wishes.
SAROA also believes it is not in owner’s interests that jockeys (who ride the owner’s horses) should be entitled to disseminate what amounts to privileged information to members of the public.
Maybe the “members of the public” should withhold their funds for a while, and see how the owners cope then.
Maradonna wins over 800m at the Vaal. Not surprisingly, the stipes have his specimens taken for analysis.
Owner Mike Rattray has a day of mixed success. At Kenilworth his Harry Hotspur-filly Fragrant Air fails at odds-on to win a maiden plate, but less than an hour later his Elliodor-filly Fragrant Lady wins the R60.000 Executive Fashion Stakes at Germiston. The name similarity is a coincidence – Rattray bought rather than bred the fillies, and had nothing to do with the naming.
Favourite for the Executive Fashion Stakes was Jumpup And Kissme, who carried too much weight and ran an excellent sixth. Jumpup And Kissme had been well fancied by Martin Bailie as “she’s won all these commercials on Radio Five recently and obviously has good form”.
In Bloemfontein, sire Bodrum achieves an unusual feat when three of his progeny fill the first three places in the first juvenile race at the track. The trifecta in the 800m event pays a handsome R3000.
Cape bookmaker Pip James keeps his nose in front, as he sponsors the Pip James Golf Classic in Somerset-West. Eighty owners, trainers, jockeys and punters have a 4-ball at the Somerset West Country Club.
The chairman of the SA Jockeys Association, Tex Lerena, announces that the telephone service offered by certain jockeys will be discontinued. “It was introduced in good faith, but has generated negative perceptions and did not conform with the credo of the SA Jockeys Association”, states Lerena.
Prince Florimund’s son Coal scores his fifth win in a row to bring his winning tally to eight in the Steward’s Cup. PE’s champion sprinter, who broke the track record in the process, seems unlikely to leave it at that.
Phantom Robber shows he’s back to best when winning the R75.000 Computaform Stakes from Stag Hunter and year-yonger Russian Minstrel. Phantom Robber looks set to renew rivalry with Flaming Rock later in the month in the CTP Stakes.
After the running of the fourth race at Gosforth Park, the track commentator announces that jockey Rhys van Wyk “has been stood down by the course veterinary surgeon”.
The confusion is probably a result of jockey Van Wyk’s advertising slogan “straight from the jockey’s mouth”.
Heavy rains for several days cause the Saturday meeting at Clairwood to be cancelled.
NOVEMBER 17 – 23
Transvaal bookmakers seek a public hearing, according to the Sunday Times, blaming the betting tax increase (from 10% to 12% on punter’s winning bets) as the reason for a severe drop in betting turnover.
A leading bookmaker is quoted as saying “Our October turnover is down 31% compared to the same month last year”, but fails to indicate what happened in September, or what happened in other parts of the country where the tax wasn’t raised, or what happened to tote turnover in the same months.
Almost eighty entries are received for the Cape Fillies Guineas Futurity, to be run on 7 December at Milnerton. The race is the first leg of the Fillies Triple, which carries a bonus of R250.000 for a filly that manages to win all three legs. The second leg is the Bloodline Fillies Guineas at Gosforth Park (April) and the third leg the SA Fillies Guineas at Scottsville (in May).
Cape racing administrators come under some pressure, when the question of “appearance money” is mooted for the Millard horses raiding during the Cape season. It appears that the Cape’s authorities aren’t favourably disposed to the idea.
The Irish horse King’s College tops the spring mixed bloodstock sale at Gosforth Park, when signed for at R75.000 by one his of his three previous part-owners. The sale averages R8.500.
Newmarket racecourse announces it has been given the go-ahead for night racing by the HRA.
It is envisaged to stage a nine-race nightcard between 6pm and 10.30pm during weekdays. Newmarket would convert from midweek day racing to night racing. The first meeting is planned to be held in January 1994.
Still at Newmarket, the stipes investigate the track after an anonymous tip-off that a strip of the track has been rolled to provide superior going. After inspection, the stipes order that the starting stalls are moved away from the offending strip, and also that a line of bollards is placed to steer horses away from the advantage “in the interests of fair racing”.
It was rumoured that the strip had been rolled to the advantage of the horse Ringleman in the third race. Ringleman was drawn 15 out of 15 (on the stand side) on going that had been rumoured to be unfavourable in recent weeks. Despite all the upheaval, Ringleman starts 6/10 favourite. He can’t do better than second, though, behind Tudor Legend (drawn 12). The first three home come from the four highest draws, just to rub things in.
Ironically, in the first race on the same day (which means before the stipes receive their tip-off), the juvenile filly Queen of the Road drifts from an opening call of 4/1 to 20/1 – and wins, much to the surprise of her trainer. There are no prizes for guessing where Queen of the Road was drawn – 15 out of 16, of course!
Punters now have access to a complete telephone horseracing racing information service, as Callnet introduces Turfcall, a service designed to provide up-to-the-second racing information to anyone with access to a telephone. Codes allow the punter witha touch-tone telephone or Toni-pad to select particular information. The service will soon be available nationally.
Jockey Craig Anthony is warned off by the Jockey Club for being directly involved in betting transactions. The offenses took place late in 1989 and early in 1990.
A war of words breaks when the nominees are announced for the Cape Racing Awards, and Phantom Robber isn’t included in the shortlist for “best three year old”. Phantom Robber had won the SA Invitation Stakes a year earlier, but hadn’t shaped in any of the traditional major races during the Cape and Natal season. Even so, he’d been a nominee for the ARCSA awards.
The controversy once again highlights the necessity for clear guidelines when awards are given, both at national and regional level.
Zandvliet Stud and Summerhill settle their dispute over Sunny North out of court. Sunny North stood three seasons at Zandvliet, before being sent back to the US for one season. On his return he took up duties at Summerhill.
The Japan Racing Association lays out $6 million to purchase stallion Dancing Brave. This brilliant horse with his incredible turn of foot had a controversial career on the track and had been at stud since 1987.
The Cape Summer season gets into swing with the running of the Majorca Stakes (WFA). Trainer Darryl Hodgson takes three of the first four places, his I’m Exclusive filly I’m Livania scoring rather comfortably despite a badly slipped saddle.
NOVEMBER 24 – 30
Illustrador is said to be back in full training after an absence of more than a year. The 1989/90 Horse of the Year and 1990/91 Stayer of the Year has the J&B Met as his initial target.
Senor Santa is priced up early favourite for the Gr1 First National 1600. He’s even money, with Miss Averof 3/1 and Roland’s Song 4/1. The order is the same as the way they finished last year in a slowish run race.
South African racing is transmitted live by satellite to betting shops throughout the UK. Four meetings are beamed to the UK, as a test to see whether British punters can be persuaded to bet on our racing during the dreary winter months in Europe. The project is a joint venture between ARCSA in South Africa, and BOLA (the bookmakers association) and SIS (the satellite service) in the UK.
In Ireland, Phoenix Park racecourse was closed last year because punters failed to support it. Now developers fail to gain permission to develop the land for housing and instead contemplate opening a 1000-grave cemetary on the site.
Rumour has it that they’ll be getting ex-jockeys to run the place and that punters will get preferential treatment.
Wouldn’t be the first time punters got buried by the jockeys at the furlong pole!
By the end of November nearly 300 racehorses will have been imported into Hong Kong over a period of five months. The imports will help maintain Hong Kong’s racing population at about 800 horses (racing started in September and extends into mid-June next year).
Horses are imported into Hong Kong as the island has neither space nor environment to breed horses. Imports come from England, Ireland, France, Australia, New Zealand and the US.
The Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club, which in previous years typically bought and imported more than half of the horses going into the colony for individual owners, is now encouraging owners to import their own horses. This year more than half of the imported horses (ages two and up) were purchased by private owners and have been imported at their discretion. This seems to be a development that could create a demand for horses from South Africa, too.
Horses bought by the HK Jockey Club for eventual placement with individual owners are referred to as “griffins”. Bought as yearlings by the Club’s appointed agents overseas, griffins are kept in boarding establishments in their country of origin, while being broken in and prepared for training. They are sent to Hong Kong in the summer of the year following their purchase. This means that a southern hemisphere purchase is kept for about 15 months, and a northern hemisphere purchase 10 months before being shipped to Hong Kong.
Griffins, which start racing about six months after importation, are balloted to Jockey Club members who successfully apply to become owners. The Club charges a standard subscription that covers the cost of purchase, air freight, and upkeep before arrival in Hong Kong. Current subscription is HK$ 270.000 (some US$ 35.000).
International Totalizator Systems, a public company in Carlsbad, California, receives a $15 million contract from the Hong Kong Jockey Club to develop new automated wagering terminals. The product is a self-vending terminal that performs most of the functions of a tote-clerk, and also accommodates off-track and telephone wagering. First deliveries of the new terminals are due late in 1992.
Public company Oakfields Thoroughbreds (not to be confused with Godfrey Gird’s Oaklands, which has no part in the company) reports a R1.4 million loss for the year to July, plus accumulated losses of R2.6 million. The balance sheet shows net assets of R8.7 million, down from R13.8 million a year earlier.
Chairman BB Robinson states that losses were incurred on the sale of breeding stock, and also on the write-down of certain listed investments.
The sale of broodmares in May resulted in a R2.1 million book loss, which included the carrying costs of unborn foals and direct sale costs. Attentive readers may remember the May sale, which grossed well over R5 million, and where terms offered to buyers were half the purchase price on day of the sale, and the other half in May 1992.
BB Robinson states further that the company does not propose to pay a dividend at this stage – earnings plunged from 5.8c a share last year to a loss of 25.9c a share.
M-Net gets to show its very first Transvaal meeting on First National day, which is perhaps not surprising after Topsport’s November handicap debacle.
With a carry-over from the previous meeting, the Pick Six pool at Turffontein soars to well over R3 million.
Goldmark beats Senor Santa in the GR1 First National 1600, as the heavens open halfway during the race. The Edge comes late for third, just ahead of Miss Averof. Roland’s Song wears blinkers for the first time and fades right out of the picture after being handy. Few people venture to the winner’s circle after the race and Goldmark is led in with an umbrella!
It is a sad reflection on the strength of the younger generations when a five and a six-year-old sprinter fight out one of the season’s most important mile races.
The First National Sprint on the same day is won by the filly Melting, who holds odds-on favourite Empress Club at bay. But Empress Club gave Melting four kilos, and clearly is no sprinter. She runs an excellent race in defeat, suggesting she’ll be no pushover in the classic races over a mile and more.
Meanwhile in the Cape, the crowd roars as Flaming Rock once again produces his incredible finish to pip Phantom Robber in the CTP Stakes over 1400m. Less than half a length separates the first four horses home. Flaming Rock gets the special CTP bonus of R10.000 for winning the race two years in a row.
The course announcer at Greyville asks racegoers to note that Seve Ballesteros has been gelded, which startles players at Greyville’s infield golf course. Playing a four-ball with Seve clearly will never be the same again.
The 1991 issue of the Racing Record Annual is published, showing detailed performance records of every single horse that raced in South Africa last season.