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An Evergreen

Match race of the decade

It’s always been a favourite and the 1989 Winning Form Challenge match race between the filly Northern Princess (Michael Roberts) and Senor Santa ( Gavin Howes) is worth another watch.

Old colleagues and friends – evergreen Rian Cruywagen and Hennie

Gold Circle Publishing Head Andrew Harrison reminds us that Hollywoodbets Greyville was ‘overflowing’ that day.

The movie is at the end of this editorial.

Martin Locke, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday at Avontuur, sets the scene and it’s good to the late Hennie Pietersen in action, too.

A former Afrikaans racecaller – some of you may remember horses like Kolskoot and Blommelied – the man who started Radio Good sixty years ago passed away in 2012.

Hennie went to school at Helpmekaar Seunshoëskool Johannesburg.  From a very early age his dream was to become a commentator.

After he matriculated he worked with his father at a storage company. Two years later he went for an interview at the SABC.  After three years working as a controller in the news/music room he got his chance as commentator.

Hennie was the first Afrikaans Commentator to broadcast the Durban July for 21 years.

He went to Hilversum in Holland at the World Wide Commentator Station where he worked with amongst  others, legendary SABC newsreader,  Riaan Cruywagen.

Hennie started Radio Good Hope in 1960.

In 1969 he married Judith Jarvis, a model as well as one of the first Trust Bank beautiful front-line girls made famous by Jan S Marais. Together they worked as PRO’s in their personal capacity and had the chance to meet many famous people from all over the world. They never had any children.

Hennie was MC at various social/sports occasions amongst other; Miss South Africa for many years and later as commentator and MC at the J&B Met.

In 1990 he was appointed as PRO at Gilbeys in Stellenbosch.

In 1999 he was named Media Liaison Officer in the Western Cape for Supersport where he worked until he passed away.

Hennie was the architecht of the ‘Let’s Play ‘ concept. This was an initiative that supported the growth of youth through the development of sport in South Africa. He started the concert  in Stellenbosch with Vaughn Bishop and it spilled over quickly into the towns of  Malmesbury, Vredenburg, Paarl, Worcester and Hermanus.

Pietersen also wrote various articles for the Western and Southern Cape newspapers.

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28 comments on “An Evergreen

  1. Brian says:

    Why not run “where are they now?” What happened to Willie Pieters and Gavin Howes

  2. Donald says:

    Brilliant !

    Nothing better than seeing a horse ” come again ” to win in a tight finish.

    Great ride by Muis and a well put together event with the evergreen knowledgeable Martin Locke as compere !

  3. Basil says:

    Can we please see the Guineas where In Full Flight beat Sentinel . Best race I’ve ever watched

    1. Editor says:

      Been looking for that one, Basil

  4. Gavin says:

    Gavin Howes ride left alot to be questioned.. Very suspect.. Mr Howes seriously..

    1. Editor says:

      Seriously, Gavin?


    Here’s the evergreen Grand National field

    2020 Virtual Grand National line-up

    Number, name, jockey, odds, weight

    1 Tiger Roll, Davy Russell, 5-1, 11-10
    2 Bristol De Mai, Daryl Jacob, 20-1, 11-8
    3 Aso, Charlie Deutsch, 66-1, 11-2
    4 Elegant Escape, Jonjo O’Neill jnr, 20-1, 11-2
    5 Anibale Fly, Barry Geraghty, 20-1, 11-2
    6 Top Ville Ben, Tom Dowson, 45-1, 11-2
    7 Beware The Bear, Jerry McGrath, 33-1, 11-0
    8 Peregrine Run, Kevin Sexton, 66-1, 10-13
    9 Jett, Sam Waley-Cohen, 50-1, 10-13
    10 Alpha Des Obeaux, Richard Johnson, 25-1, 10-13
    11 Total Recall, Paul Townend, 40-1, 10-13
    12 The Storyteller, Keith Donoghue, 40-1, 10-12
    13 Magic Of Light, Robbie Power, 18-1, 10-12
    14 Talkischeap, Tom Cannon, 25-1, 10-11
    15 Yala Enki, Bryony Frost, 28-1, 10-11
    16 Ballyoptic, Sam Twiston-Davies, 25-1, 10-11
    17 Burrows Saint, Rachael Blackmore, 12-1, 10-10
    18 Definitly Red, Brian Hughes, 14-1, 10-10
    19 Sub Lieutenant, JJ Slevin, 33-1, 10-9
    20 Ok Corral, Derek O’Connor, 25-1, 10-9
    21 Tout Est Permis, Sean Flanagan, 80-1, 10-9
    22 Vintage Clouds, Danny Cook, 33-1, 10-8
    23 Crievehill, Tom Bellamy, 66-1, 10-8
    24 Lake View Lad, Henry Brooke, 50-1, 10-8
    25 Jury Duty, Mark Enright, 40-1, 10-8
    26 Pleasant Company, David Mullins, 28-1, 10-7
    27 Acapella Bourgeois, Danny Mullins, 33-1, 10-6
    28 Shattered Love, Lisa O’Neill, 66-1, 10-6
    29 Any Second Now, Mark Walsh, 10-1, 10-6
    30 Potters Corner, Jack Tudor, 18-1, 10-6
    31 Dounikos, Luke Dempsey, 50-1, 10-5
    32 Kildisart, Nico de Boinville, 50-1, 10-5
    33 Death Duty, Gavin Brouder, 50-1, 10-5
    34 Ramses De Teillee, Tom Scudamore, 66-1, 10-5
    35 Valtor, James Bowen, 66-1, 10-4
    36 Saint Xavier, David Maxwell, 66-1, 10-4
    37 Warriors Tale, Harry Cobden, 80-1, 10-4
    38 Double Shuffle, Jonathan Burke, 100-1, 10-4
    39 Kimberlite Candy, Richie McLernon, 16-1, 10-4
    40 Walk In The Mill, James Best, 16-1, 10-4

  6. Lorenso says:

    Cannot help but to ask just guessing here as this was before my time noticed jockeys names when the clip reached 14:53 probably the race preceding the match race a full field of 16 on the turf at Hollywood bets Greyville Turf. The ones I can relate to correct me if I am wrong:
    Glynn Schofield
    Sean Cormack *( for apprentice at the time?)
    Peter Dillon
    Nicholis Shearer
    Robbie Sham
    Anthony Delpech
    Gavin Howes
    Robbie Hill
    Michael Roberts
    Stuart Randolph *( for apprentice?
    Paddy Wynne
    Kevin Shea

  7. Yusuf says:

    How about main man and model man were we c the governer at his best to beat basil marcus

  8. Pieta says:

    Remember Francois Wolfaard……Sandie Bicket (spelling) ?

  9. Donald says:

    Gavin , there are three issues you have to consider in that race :

    1. Senor Santa was an outright sprinter and just did not see out the distance.
    2. Gavin Howes knew this and therefore had to out sprint Northern Princess in a slow run race which he almost did with the exception of that last furlong.
    3. The suburb race riding tactics of Muis Roberts.

    Give that some thought and possibly you will consider withdrawing your comment in respect of the ride by Gavin Howes ?

    1. Editor says:

      Well put Donald

  10. Racing Fever says:

    What a horse race!!
    Thank You

    Is there any chance of watching divine act and brainteaser

    1. Editor says:

      Have looked for this one previously, Racing Fever


    Jusuf , did you read on top ? I have listed that finish, look again.


    That’s on post – Local finishes

  13. Dylan says:

    Gavin Howes was top class… Muis has the experience riding in small fields from the UK. Great race and memory. I Gavin in the UK riding work last year. Still fit as ever.

  14. Rian says:

    Gavin was a special jockey with great hands and balance, Stayed with me in JHB for a few days before he went down to Durban, a filly called Lake Superior got him going nicely in Durban, Cecil will remember her
    Glad to hear he doing well

  15. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Hey Rian, yes I remember, not sure if she went on to win more. I was a big Michael fan, but Senor Santa was a Champion Sprinter. Donald sums it up best. Oh yes, Gavin well liked and good Jockey, sadly just beaten by a lighter weight distance suited horse. Sure she also won Nov Hcp with low weight later that year.

    Same era remember a horse Spook and Diesel, also Bold Tropic beaten by a horse called Anytime Baby. Good Sprinters from the mid 80s Teds Ambition and Extra Cover. Clairwood Park going strong, good times…

    What a lovely article 👍 Riaan Cruywagen ( Haas Das voice ) I remember the Trust Bank girls and my bank then.
    ” Wie moet jy bedank ? Boland , Boland Bank ”

    Have a Good Day 🐴

  16. hilton witz says:

    Bit harsh to say that senor santa never stayed a mile as i was at turfontein on the day he smashed champion rolands song in the fnb 1600 …

  17. Rian says:

    Cecil, sorry man it was ,Fairy Fortune, that got him started, think lake superior was ridden by the other Cecil now Stipe
    But from Airey stable, and yes Spook and Diesel, all I drank those days

  18. Joao says:


    Thou shalt not nor never say that Senorsanta was just a sprinter.


  19. Donald says:

    Thank you for that link Joao , but as the heading says ” WAS A TOP SPRINTER ” although like any good horse and Senor Santa was one of the best to race in this country it would not be impossible for him to win over a mile , which he did , given the right circumstances and conditions but his record apart from that FNB 1600 is a sprinting one !

    Be that as it may I think we all agree that Senor Santa was a top horse !

  20. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Sorry Mr Ed, slightly off the article, but the man in question – Bernie Ecclestone is involved in Racing and definitely Evergreen

    Congrats, will become a Daddy later this year, 89 yrs young, and it’s a Baby boy, brother to 3 older sisters.

    One word for this Icon – Yster

    PS – I believe his favorite color is Blue 🤔 me thinks cause the baby boys room color and clothing

    1. Editor says:

      Formula One, Cecil

  21. Basil says:

    Both Michael and Gavin were outstanding jockeys for different reasons. I have to say that I was privileged to have both of them ride my horses in the 1980’s. Gavin was unassuming and quiet and no one got a word in in the parade ring when Michael was talking.

  22. Seattle Slew says:

    I remember the race clearly and while I still believe that it was a poor ride that cost Senor Santa the race, there was nothing sinister about it – it was just one of those things that could happen to any jockey on a bad day, especially given the unique nature of a match race. Muis is, for my money, the greatest jockey this country has produced, so being beaten by him in a tactical battle is not something that anyone should feel bad about.

    Regarding Senor Santa’s credentials as a miler, I always felt that he was essentially a great sprinter who had to be ridden just right to get a true-run 1600m and he was given a particularly brilliant ride to win the FNB. I was very pleased when he finally got that win under his belt.

    The true sprinter-miler is a rare beast – I’m talking here about horses that regularly flit between the two types of distances and win, as opposed to the odd prep run or experiment. The best I’ve seen is Jet Master (he was such a great stallion that I think we’re in danger of forgetting his brilliance on the track). The history books indicate that Sentinel may have been the greatest of the lot – before my time but, my word – the quality of opposition he took on over anything from 1000m to a mile was incredible.

  23. Jodi says:

    Brain, my dad (Willie Pieters) is living in kloof and has a successful trucking company as well as strong involvement in the travel industry. He is still involved with the horse’s by traveling with me on the showjumping circuit.

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