Gavin van Zyl’s hardknocking 5yo gelding Blackball, once described by his seasoned trainer as ‘a proper horse’, beat the weight and the wide barrier gate to register a well deserved victory under the in-form Raymond ‘Stingray’ Danielson in the R120 000 UmThombothi Stakes at a sweltering Hollywoodbets Scottsville on Sunday.
With Van Zyl out of town, his assistant Opensea Mhlamvu saddled the winner for a happy group of senior owners.
Opensea, an institution in KZN racing and a man with the rare honour of having had a horse named in his honour, was the first Black person to be registered as an assistant trainer in this country when he worked for the now Sydney-based David Payne.
After Paths Of Victory had set the fractions ahead of Great Warrior and Seattle Foce, Blackball was given the office by Raymond Danielson from some way off the gallop into the home straight. He is a horse who likes to relax and turn it on late. He takes his time to get going!
With Gauteng raider Seattle Force failing to go on with his challenge at the 400m, Blackball (15-2) was wound up and came from behind his more fancied stablemate Marchingontogether and charged home up the outside to hold off The Dazzler (10-1) by two lengths in a time of 117,68 secs.
SA Championship and Hollowyoodbets Sizzling Summer Challenge log leader Warren Kennedy had a rare blank day at the KZN office and steered Marchingontogether into third a further two lengths back, with the evergreen Wealthy plodding into fourth.
It was a happy weekend for winning rider Raymond Danielson, who rode five winners between Turffontein and Hollywoodbets Scottsville.
Lynton Ryan paid R150 000 at the 2016 Val De Vie Yearling Sale for the Shirluck Stud-bred son of Black Minnaloushe (Storm Cat) who is out of the twice-winning Kabool mare, Kite Runner.
Blackball has now won 7 races with 9 places from 30 starts for stakes of R680 050.
On a tough day for any punters, all the exotics paid healthy dividends – with the Pick 6 payout of R947 000 an eyecatcher.