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Clairwood Closes:Easy As ABC

Nine to go as another racecourse bites the dust

Flying Loot wins the last race ever run at Clairwood

Flying Loot wins the last race ever run at Clairwood

That was it. Another one down and only nine racecourses to go. Over nine decades of South African horseracing history and tradition were consigned to the scrapheap of history as the gates slammed shut on the Garden Course, Clairwood, on Saturday evening.

There was melodrama too as the sun set.

Smiling-or was it embarassed- racing officials and a few personalities turned up after the last race and grinned as a duet, PC black and white naturally, sang Sarah Brightman and Andreas Bocelli’s moving hit, Time To Say Goodbye, with fireworks in the background.

Also Anton Marcus, kissing the turf after he had ridden the winner of the final race, the Paul Lafferty trained Australian bred Flying Loot, who is owned by a longstanding supporter racing in the region in Mary Liley, in partnership with Louis Van Wyk.

The connections of the last winner received special commemorative trophies.

So the curtain came down on an entire lifetime of racing action, colourful characters, big days, bad days and memories for many of us.

Last winning connections-Paul Lafferty and Mary Liley with Michel Nairac and Robert Mauvis

Last winning connections-Paul Lafferty and Mary Liley with Michel Nairac and Robert Mauvis

There was plenty of twisted irony in that Gold Circle chose to host the Asian Young Guns new generation of stars against this backdrop of sadness and emotion

For Tellytrack viewers, the Asian Young Guns Challenge was largely a non event.

We were not introduced to the stars of tomorrow, and we were clueless as the afternoon went on as to who was in the lead.

The apprentice jockeys from Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Macau, South Korea, Mauritius, Malaysia and South Africa competed over four legs.

The points system was 25 for a win, 15 for 2nd, 10 for 3rd, 7 for 4th, 5 for 5th, 3 for 6th, 2 for 7th and 1 point from 8th to 12th

Threshold won the first leg, the Cathsetta Asian Young Guns Challenge, under KC Tham.

The second leg, the Tsogo Sun Asian Young Guns Challenge saw New Zealand’s Rory Hutchings win a cracker on Mike Bass’ Mountain Master.

The third leg, the Rising Sun Young Guns Challenge, produced a runaway win for the odds-on favourite Pioneer Spirit from the Gavin van Zyl yard, who was ridden by our own apprentice Craig Zackey.

Tham now led on 43 points, Hutchings was second on 29 and Zackey third on 27.

The final leg, the Sukhraj Racing Asian Young Guns Challenge produced a win for Akash Auchuruz in the Sukhraj family silks aboard the Greg and Karen Anthony-trained Sakania.

Tham was crowned victor on 145 points, Hutchings was second on 139 and there was a tie for third on 33 between Auchuruz and Senari .

Craig Zackey was fifth on 30 points.

But that was all rather academic really and the day was really about the loss of another South African racing venue-and a good and fair one at that too.

It probably makes no good sense getting too emotional and jumping to conclusions and bashing individuals about Clairwood’s demise.

The sale was obviously a well intebnded business decision based on a rescue and refurbishment programme for Gold Circle’s other facilities in the province.

Greyville already has the polytrack – thank goodness. We hear money is being thrown at Summerveld.

The deal became attractive and justifiable to them for a host of reasons, but also when the positioning of the new harbour considerably increased the value of the Clairwood land.

The R430 million is in the bank and exactly how the present custodians invest it will determine whether this was a wise and shrewd move or just a desperate act of delaying the inevitable and yet another plastering over of old wounds and filling holes.

History will pass the final judgement.

And while it isn’t as simple as A, B, C, if you are the superstitious type, the alphabet soup doesn’t augur too well for Durbanville.

Amongst others in our recent living memory, we have closed Arlington, Bloemfontein and now Clairwood.

The Big D of Durbanville sort of slots in sweetly.


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