2012 – The Year In Review

Time to adjust our game plan for next year

As the year draws to a close, it is a time to review, examine where we went wrong, celebrate where we went right, and adjust our game plan for next year. For a review of the good, the bad and the ugly. 2012 packed quite a punch!

January

Hopes for a Queen’s Plate rematch between Igugu and Ebony Flyer were thwarted when Igugu was entered for the Paddock Stakes (and later scratched).  But the talking colts of the season made the day when Gimmethe-greenlight and Variety Club fought out the big race and Jackson flew across the line in the Politician Stakes.

On Met day, Jackson just got the better of Variety Club in the Derby and Igugu, last season’s Champion 3 YO Filly / Champion Middle Distance Horse / Horse Of The Year / 2011 Vodacom Durban July Champion proved a popular Met winner.  It turned out to be her last start in SA following an announcement that she is going to Dubai.  Towards the end of the month, Val de Ra grew wings to beat What A Winter in the Cape Flying Championship and our media execs took a sudden interest in the herbaceous borders at the Klawervlei lunch.

February

Phumelela took over the reins of WC racing, firing off a directive to Cape trainers to address the issue of small fields.  On Gauteng Guineas day, Go Indigo scooped the fillies prize while Golden Chateau won the colts race.

March

The Competitions Commission set the cat among the pigeons prohibiting the proposed transactions for The Thoroughbred Horseracing Trust to acquire Western Cape racing.  The small fields malaise continued and eventually took its toll in the form of a meeting being cancelled at Durbanville.  CTS launched their ‘Book 2’ at Kenilworth and the concept proved popular.  US horse racing series Luck was called off after a number of horses died during shooting.

April

Popular bookmaker Mike O’Connor was gunned down during a robbery at his Bullring bookmaking establishment.  Gerrit Schlechter spread his wings and went to ride in Korea.  Karl Neisius clocked up his 3000th career win.  South African ex-pat David Payne trained a Gr1 winner (Master of Design) in Australia.  Capetonian racing enthusiast Roy Ekstein died in a motoring accident.  Three horses ‘fell’ in the Dubai Gold Cup and a NY Times expose “Death and disarray at America’s racetracks” kept the raceday drug debate going.  With the proposed sale of Arlington, Phumelela announced a polytrack for Fairview.  We lost another racing personality in Hadley Augustus.  Grey Poet broke down across the line at the Vaal and after a jockey protest, racing was abandoned after the 6th race.  Slumdogmillionaire sustained bone chips and had his July hopes dashed.  Mike de Kock all but swept the boards on Champions Day, while King’s Temptress provided an upset in the Nursery and Pomodoro hinted at things to come in the Derby.

May

JJ The Jet Plane retired from racing.  Gavin Lerena fell at the Vaal, breaking his leg and jeopardising his jockey championship hopes.  Rumours flew after a kerfuffle in a Cape grooms race where Justin Andrews was replaced at the last minute by Shorty Ndzongo.  Booked ride Ginoclock duly came home lonely.  The NHA’s inquiry re Adv Maselle’s 2011 complaint surrounding RA bonus stakes was dismissed after Phumelela CEO Mr Rian du Plessis issued an email stating that the NHA does not have jurisdiction over Phumelela.  The NHA ruled that they (and therefore the Inquiry Board) did not have jurisdiction to deal with the complaint.  Tribal Dance won the EC Derby.  Following much speculation, it was announced that Variety Club will remain in South Africa.  Cape grooms staged a protest outside Kenilworth.  Purple Capital CEO Charles Savage issued a public challenge to Phumelela.  Gimmethe-greenlight retired to stud at Varsfontein.  There was good news on the export protocols as changes were accepted at the OIE General Assembly reducing pre-export quarantine times.  All Is Secret won the Allan Robertson.  Delago Deluxe bounced back to his best in the Golden Horse Casino Sprint and Ebony Flyer won the SA Sprint, sparking talks of a July entry.

June

The Adv Maselle / Phumelela / NHA debacle continued.  The KZN season hit full swing with Jackson winning the Daily News, Viva Maria the Woolavington and Blake taking the Lonsdale Cup.  Back in Cape Town, King of Pain won the Langerman.  Sean Miller tragically lost his life in Kimberley.  Variety Club won the Gold Challenge, but suffered an epistaxis.  Princess Victoria won the Tibouchina Stakes.  Phumelela responded to Purple Capital.  NHA announced Rob de Kock is to retire in 2013 and appointed Mr Denzil Pillay as Chief Executive Designate.  Bernard Fayd’herbe rode 4 winners at a mid-week meeting at Clairwood.  Puntas Arenas won the 3rd leg of the Winter Derby for Stan Elley and Felix Coetzee.  Shadwell Stud relocate stallions Kahal, Muhtafal and Malhub to Bush Hill Stud.  Phumelela announce amendments to the dates for the 2013 Met and Summer Cup.

July

Hunting Tower returns to South Africa.  The July provides a nail-biter with Pomodoro just pipping Smanjemanje to the post.  Chris van Niekerk delights the media with his comment ‘I will remain a fool and buy more!’  What A Winter returns to form in the Mercury Sprint.  It is Kenilworth’s turn to rain out and racing is abandoned after the 2nd race.  South Africa almost has a homebred in the Olympic eventing, but after a last minute drama, is replaced by Alex Peternell.  Felix Coetzee wins his 8th Gold Cup aboard In Writing.  After a decision to disallow Zim results, Anton Marcus wins the Jockey Championship.  Variety Club is voted Horse of the Year, Ingrid & Markus Jooste are joint Owners of the Year and Mike de Kock is Champion Trainer.  Summerhill win their 8th Breeders Championship.

August

Garth Puller has his first winner as a trainer.  A swathe of new stallions are announced for South Africa including Curved Ball (Bush Hill), Oratoria (Avontuur), Philanthropist (Drakenstein), Pathfork and Great Britain (Highlands) and Gitano Hernando (Maine Chance).

September

Lots of rain resulting in abandoned meetings in the Cape and the Emerald Cup called off at the start due to hail.  Meadow Magic wins it on the revised date of 28 September.  The Roy Eckstein dispersal sale attracts interest with the likes of Tales of Bravery, Twitter, Top Seller and Tribal Dance going under the hammer and many destined for Mauritius.

October

A Vaal meeting is abandoned after a jockey protest.  There appear to be gremlins at the Clairwood starting stalls with stall gates first opening for no apparent reason and a few days later opening late in the case of Flyfirstclass who is eventually declared a non-runner.  Felix Coetzee celebrates 3,500 wins on Changing-oftheguard in the Matchem Stakes.  He unfortunately suffers a fall a few days later, putting him out of action.  It is a bad month for jockeys as Andrew Fortune suffers a fall at Wood Hill Racing and breaks an arm.  Formgrids goes offline for a few days and causes mayhem.  KZN is still struggling with the weather and PE is also affected.  Operators reschedule where possible.  Abram Makhubo, 5-time Champion Work Rider passes away.  Frankel finishes his career unbeaten and retires to stud.  Hurricane Sandy hits the USA.

November

TBA Ready to Run Sale is a resounding success with industry newcomer Adriaan van Vuuren scooping the top priced colt and filly.  Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco wows everyone at the Turffontein Charity Mile day.  An exciting finish in the Ready To Run Cup sees Rock of Arts crowned the winner.  Variety Club is back on form in a Pinnacle Plate while Cave de Oura impresses in the Cape Classic.  The Competitions Commission rules in favour of the Western Cape / Thoroughbred Racing Trust / Phumelela transactions.  Controversy over the international jockey challenge sees local jockeys compete in owners colours.  Additional controversy at Turffontein as 2 runners are scratched on the night.  Love Struck wins the Betting World Guineas Trial and aims for the Cape Guineas.  Mr Allie returns to racing in Cape Town and has his first winner.  Susan Rowett takes up the reins as Chairperson of Racing South Africa and Mary Slack resigns her position as trustee of the Thoroughbred Horseracing Trust.  The first case of AHS is confirmed in Chartwell.

December

Ebony Flyer is retired and booked to Galileo.  Wagner is a popular winner of the Sansui Summer Cup.  Racing South Africa announces a scientific breakthrough in AHS Diagnostic Testing when a scientific paper on a real-time PCR diagnostic test for African horse sickness is passed by external reviewers.  There is a furore over moves to restrict out-of-province trainers from running satellite stables in KwaZulu-Natal.  King of Pain shows his class in the Selangor and has strong designs on the Guineas.  The flying grey Rumya scoops the Cape Fillies Guineas.  Ian Jayes is given notice.  CTS holds their first Ready To Run Sale.

And the year is not quite yet done !

In Summary

We’ve had hurricanes, a man jumping from space, Olympic Games (with Oscar Pistorius representing us in the able-bodied as well as the Paralympics), US presidential elections, Whitney Houston dead in her hotel room in Beverly Hills and Neil Armstrong passing after complications from heart surgery.  There was a painting of our president and if that wasn’t revealing enough, revelations about his finances.  There was Gangnam Style, floods, protests and armed conflict.  There was rhino poaching on an epic scale.  50 Shades of Grey (ok, I read it late), the 50th anniversary of James Bond, the Sandy Hook tragedy.

When I’ve read or watched reviews of 2012, what has struck home most strongly is that despite the ups, downs, conflicts and personal tragedies, what seems to have won out is our resilience, our innovation, our innate kindness, our willingness to reach out and help, and the belief (and proof) that one person can make a difference.

We saw a grooms cooperative horse win the Summer Cup, a R10k cheapie has just won his 4th race in the Cape and I had another reminder via Facebook.  Paul & Lindi Garlicki of Connemara Stud have been a fixture on the racing scene for ages.  They have always been small-scale breeders and owners, but have been associated with some very good horses over the years.  Most recently they got some attention with their promising colt Pessoa (and folks, it’s PessOa, not PessAo), but better still, they’ve had 5 winners (all across the country) in the last 2 weeks.  That really is a fantastic achievement for a small operation and offers hope and encouragement to the rest of us ‘little guys’ out there.  As it is worth casting a line when the fish are running, I should mention that Connemara have 5 lots on the forthcoming CTS Book 1.

This year I’ve learnt about injuries (mine and my horses!) and about colic and tendons in particular.  I have worked, unsuccessfully perhaps, on patience and restraint.  As usual, I’ve variously found myself either in hot water or shut out in the cold.  But always there have been good laughs and good friends along the way.

2013 promises to be another exciting and challenging chapter (assuming the Mayans are wrong and the world doesn’t end on the 21st – what does one wear to an apocalypse anyway?).

As we are entering the Phumelela era, I feel it appropriate to leave you with a betting quote.  They say you should take a bet every day.  Otherwise, you could be walking around lucky and never know it !  Here’s to being lucky in 2013.

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