JANUARY 5 – 11
Senor Santa is reported to have injured a muscle in his hind quarters and posted a doubtful starter for the Flying Championship later in the week.
The traditional J&B Charity Ball is cancelled for economic reasons. The Cape OTA plans to stage a fund raising alternative instead of the traditional ball just prior to the J&B Met.
Juvenile colt Noble Fighter, on which Kevin Shea was suspended two weeks ago for not trying hard enough, opens 8/10 favourite at his second start, before drifting to 11/10 favourite. Always handy, the son of Hard Up wins comfortably by a length from newcomer Ticket to Heaven.
Course records are there to be broken, but at Milnerton things are getting more and more curious. American Conection wins the third race at the Cape course on Wednesday, and his time for the 1000m is initially listed as 56.7 seconds. As the course record is 58 seconds (set four days earlier by Harry’s Mystery), the initial time-taken disappears without a trace, and the official verdict reads “no time taken”.
But we don’t have to wait long. Three days later, on Saturday, Politician’s son Signor Amigo impressively wins the Cape Flying Championship. His time of 57.8 seconds is a new track record.
In Natal another sprinter, Melting, signals that all’s well for the big sprints coming up this season. Ridden by Michael Roberts, she buries a useful field of fillies over 1200m at Scottsville.
Piere Strydom finishes fourth on Forest Field in the feature race at Gosforth Park, then is dislodged shortly after passing the post. He fractures a collarbone.
Another trainer joins the Podlas team. This time it’s Henry van Niekerk who appears to be the Podlas elect.
JANUARY 12 – 18
In England the debate once again centres on Sunday racing. The Jockey Club is showing an interest in experimenting with racing on the day of rest. Traditionally, the whole of the rest of Europe stages its biggest races on Sundays. Although only credit betting would be allowed under current agreements, both the Grand National and the Derby may follow the example set on the continent and be moved to a Sunday.
The final field for the J&B Met is announced. Eight horses have to be eliminated to reduce the final field to twenty. One of the eliminations is last year’s Gr1 Bloodline Administrator’s winner Last Watch, whose connections are not impressed with his exclusion.
The start of the racemeeting at the Vaal is delayed by half an hour. A swarm of bees is nesting in the starting stalls and refuses to come under orders. A new set of stalls finally gets the horses under way.
At the same meeting Norwegian female jockey Yvonne Durant makes her South African debut. She finishes just out of the placings in fifth aboard Mr Biggs after making most of the running.
And also at the Vaal, stayer Homero makes a winning return in a race over a mile after an 8-month lay-off.
Highlight of the midweek meeting at Kenilworth is the victory of three-year-old Watters trained Corning Touch in the Gr3 Basil Starke Stakes over 1400m. The trainer, who has an apparently well above average string of classic contenders, has always maintained that Corning Touch is his best. Corning touches off PE-visitor Spark Of Peace and Natal-trained Springing Guest in a race that’s run slowish early on. This results in a sprint home, where Corning Touch appears to beaten 100m from home after making most of the running, then comes again, to win going away. Short-priced favourite Fast Rocket is run complete off his feet after racing handy. The result still leaves question marks hanging over the real staying ability of the first three home, who all three could be sprinters rather than sprint/milers or milers. The Cape Guineas should provide the answers.
A new force enters the telephone services arena, and advertises in its headline “Best Lays of the Day”. Before you get too carried away, the advertiser goes under the name of “The Bookie”, and the best lay merely refers to the most likely favourite the bookie expects to get run over.
Flaming Rock has a public work-out at six in the morning at Kenilworth on Saturday, to show all is well with the beaten Queens Plate favourite. He strides out nicely, equipped with the blinkers he’ll wear for the first time in a race next week.
Racefixing is headline news, when the Cape Local Executive of the Jockey Club warns off Queens Plate winning trainer Darryl Hodgson for life, suspends jockey Eric Chelin for six months, and postpones a charge of racefixing against bookmaker Pip James.
The charges result from a race run in March of 1990 (two years ago), where Hodgson trained horse Chief’s Island won as the 16/10 favourite in the race, while jockey Chelin finished unplaced on second favourite (2/1) Cango Warrior.
Hodgson and Chelin have the right to appeal.
Ironies of ironies: at Kenilworth that afternoon, the horse Chief’s Island (having his third run for the stable of trainer McDonald and starting at 12/1) is beaten by a whisker on the post by the horse C’est Folmar. No prizes for guessing who rode the winner: jockey Chelin, of course!
The Lancaster filly Ilifa confirms her Fillies Guineas victory with an equally convincing win in the Gr2 Rex Trueform Fillies Championship, run over 1800m at Kenilworth. Just like in the Guineas, there isn’t much of a pace in the race early on (fractions of 37, 49:5, 61:5). Then again, Ilifa can’t do more than winning, and the pace could well have been influenced by excessive watering – as indicated by penetrometer readings at the track which suggested the going may have been yielding despite a complete absence of rain in recent weeks.
JANUARY 19 – 25
Chairman of the Transvaal Local Executive of the Jockey Club, Jules Horowitz, has to endure another attack on his home when several shots are fired at the front door. This follows a spate of personal insults scribbled on boundary walls, damage to his property and offensive messages left on the telephone answering machine. The Jockey Club is assisting the police with their on-going investigations.
A large contingent of Transvaal horses is airlifted to Cape Town two days before the big meeting. Their flight is delayed when the ramp system is found to be inadequate, which means that the horses have to be loaded on pallets, then lifted! A cloudburst at the time of loading does little to ease the tension.
The finish of the J&B Met becomes a Ladies Final. Not quite mud-wrestling, but even so there isn’t any lack of excitement as Veronica Burzelman gets the better of Shirley Pfeiffer. The latter’s Flaming Rock comes back to his very best form, wearing blinkers for the first time, but giving five kilos to Mrs Burzelman’s home-bred Divine Master proves just too much. A neck separates the two at the finish. Divine Master is yet another major winner for sprint sire Divine King.
The race is run at a scorching pace, with stayer Icona trying to make all in the 2000m race. Those tactics prove too much for him on a fast track, and after running the first 1600m in 1.35 and change, Icona fades quickly. Even so, he contributes in no small way to the new track record set by the winner, who comes from well off the pace.
Disappointments of the J&B Met are Ilustrador and Rakeen. In the parade ring Ilustrador looks as if he’s had just one gallop too many. He certainly doesn’t reproduce the form he’d shown at his previous start, after a lay-off of over a year.
The J&B Met, beamed via satellite to betting shops in Britain, Holland and Belgium, produced a record turnover on the local Totes. An estimated 30.000 racegoers attend the extremely well-organised meeting.
Also on J&B Met day, former Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith is on hand to lead in Ken McKenzie’s third race winner Karsavina.
JANUARY 26 – FEBRUARY 1
At Goodwood in Cape Town, the first yearling sale of 1992 isn’t the disaster many had predicted it to be. The average is down on the previous year, but the median price remains unchanged. Which means the middle market has held up, while the higher priced horses take somewhat of a knock.
First season sire My Earl proves most popular of the newcomers, his progeny averaging a solid R30.000, almost twice the sale average.
Amongst the buyers who make their presence felt are Hilda Podlas (buyer of the highest priced lot, at R80.000), Bloodline Million winner David Makins, Fillies Guineas trainer Dolf Maeder, and Cape trainer Mark Watters, who fills his basked right towards the end of the sale.
Listed company Oakfields publishes an official notice, cautioning shareholders that an offer has been made for the shares of the controlling share holders. It is rumoured that National Turf Investments is behind the offer. NTI bought a large number of mares at last year’s Oakfields dispersal sale, where credit terms were offered of 50% down and 50% by May 1992. NTI presumably still owes Oakfields half of the purchases made (including Up The Creek at R600.000) and a similar situation may well exist with mares bought from the Scott dispersal in August last year, where the same terms were offered.
Also this week, NTI’s Norman Tilley is reported to have offered R650.000 for Roland’s Song, provided she gets in foal in the coming season when covered by Foveros. Roland’s Song is still in training on the Rand, and not unlikely to boost her earnings in WFA-company before she retires.
Michael Roberts is found guilty on two counts (separate riding offenses) by the Jockey Club, and suspended for for a total of 17 days.
The final field of sixteen for the Topsport Bloodline Guineas is announced. Trainer Millard’s top filly Empress Club will take on fifteen colts, and attempt to continue where champion filly Star Effort left off.
The Jockey Club offers a R50.000 reward for anyone providing information that leads to the arrest and successful prosecution of those who have threatened members of the Transvaal Local Executive of the Jockey Club. All of Jules Horowitz, Guy Hoffman and Ronnie Napier have suffered attacks on their property.
Anton Marcus and his mount American Conection come down at Milnerton, landing the Natal jockey in hospital with a broken nose and cracked ribs. Marcus’ sidelining follows that of Tobie van Booma, who injured his back at Turffontein last Saturday.
The tally of injured jockeys rises to three within a week when Gary Waterston is flown from Newmarket to hospital by helicopter a day later, after his mount dies of a heart attack during the running of a race. The horse’s name: Third Time Lucky…
Knife Edge beats Divine Act (gives 2.5 kilos) by just under a length over 1000m at Newmarket, and becomes a serious contender for next month’s Gr1 Computaform Sprint.
Brian Moore pays the top price of R105.000 at the Cape Broodmare Sale, when he acquires the Royal Prerogative mare Choice Corn, in foal to Elliodor. Next highest price is R100.000 for Come Rain Or Shine, with a Springing Leopard foal at foot, and in foal to Golden Thatch.
Irish auctioneer (and breeder of Epsom Derby winner Generous) David Nagle takes the rostrum at the Price dispersal sale at Goodwood. Top lot goes to NTI’s Norman Tilley, who successfully bids R400.000 for Port Wine, dam of Royal Chalice. The mare has a Foveros filly at foot and is in foal to Northern Guest. The somewhat reluctant underbidder is Mike Rattray.
The five-year-old horse Interesting wins the seventh race at Arlington. The Stipes-report of the race reads: “Bold Relief broke through the stalls and was reloaded. Interesting specimen taken for analysis”.
Rock Candy takes revenge on Delta Force and sets a course record at Milnerton, when he wins the Gordon Kirkpatrick Memorial over 1200m. He runs the 1200m in 1 min 10.5 sec, 0.6 sec faster than the previous record. Milnerton’s run of broken records this season is truly remarkable, but in this case the tailwind may have helped.