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The Student Prince

Durbanville Days: Salad days they were – but what fun!

I’ve never had the privilege of attending a racemeeting at Durbanville but as a student at Stellenbosch in the late 70’s, I was always game in trying to boost the kitty for another night at ‘Tollies’, writes Gold Circle’s Andrew Harrison.

Durbanville was my nemesis. I don’t think that it had anything to do with the course – we didn’t complain about the state of the tracks in those days, we took it as a given that they were up to scratch – but rather our punting prowess.

The racecards for Durbanville (mostly Wednesday’s) were always paper thin as there were so few runners, but they fitted nicely into Dostoyevsky’s Crime And Punishment as a dry English lecturer expounded on the merits of the ‘Rooshian’s’ prose.

I suppose ‘Crime and Punishment’ was a fitting epithet – my mate Erno and I seldom collected!

When working as a student in the Argus racing department in the three-month Christmas vacs for a couple of years, Durbanville was closed so it was only Kenilworth or Milnerton.

Chris, “You had better get in quick boy those sandwiches go in a hurry,” Stokoe, Mark Small and Tarquin Norval were the Argus scribes. Rupert Langerman (Recondite) kept them on their toes.

Salad days they were – but what fun!

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4 comments on “The Student Prince

  1. Chris Swart says:

    Moonlighter a Fly by Night filly at 8/1 was the first bet I had there and duly won her only race in 39 starts.
    The Cape Times and Argus had pointed out anything with pace would be lengths better at this course and they were right in this race at least.

    Bluerooi I recall hearing at the back of the field and disgustedly trudged away like a Blue Bull supporter at half time only to hear from the exit Jehan calling her as flying up from nowhere.
    Back to collect my winnings which covered their extremely good boerie rolls.

    It certainly was different racing but if you could find a well drawn pacy horse, there was always value

    1. Editor says:

      Persona Grata rings a bell – may have held 1000m record prior to Empress Club

  2. Basil Nelson says:

    Durbanville created many huge results in the exotics as 2nd string horses ran there mainly on Wednesdays in Winter. The advantage was that winners only received penalties of 1,5kg instead of the normal 3kg penalty. I’ll never forget , on the wettest Wednesday one can imagine in the 1970’s , Peppy Mercorio had the only winning jackpot ticket which paid circa R95000. Times have certainly changed!!

    1. Editor says:

      Interesting Basil! Didn’t Dolfie Maeder’s Irish Miner (Dowdstown Charlie) pay a record tote win dividend there too? Close on R200 for a R1 close to 35 years ago, if memory serves correctly

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