South Africa’s only lady trainer to ever saddle a Vodacom Durban July winner, Milnerton-based Candice Bass-Robinson is looking forward to a big weekend where she sends out feature runners in three different provinces – all progeny of the stable’s former champion What A Winter.
South Africa’s own Gai Waterhouse, Candice, who took over the reins from her legendary Dad Mike in August 2016 after serving a twenty year long apprenticeship in the powerful Bass family operation, has maintained the high standards of one of the country’s most respected horsemen, who opened his business at the same stable in 1976.
And while the Covid-19 pandemic has presented challenges unlike those ever experienced by her astute Dad, or any other top trainers of that vintage generation, Candice says that she is thankful to have enjoyed the support of a staunch team and a loyal group of owners in the trying recent months.
“It’s difficult to have imagined what the world has been through over the past five months – it sometimes feels like a science fiction movie. But we adapt to the challenges and push on. Like the rest of the industry, our team is thrilled to have racing up and going again and, from where we were a matter of weeks ago, to this coming weekend, it feels like a feast and famine scenario. And we definitely aren’t complaining!”
Candice concedes that it has taken some thought and logistical planning, but she is proud to have the Bass Racing flag waving in three provinces from Saturday to Sunday.
Her Gr1 Cape Flying Championship winner Russet Air looks to follow in the steps of his father Equus Champion Sprinter What A Winter, who captured the 2013 Gr1 Computaform Sprint, after two placed efforts in the preceding years.
“The Gr1 Computaform Sprint has always been on the cards for him as he is more effective up the straight than the turn. Thus my choice of this race over the Mercury Sprint, which is run around the turn. Russet Air enjoys pace in a race and running on from behind. We hope he has travelled well and is under the care of Mike De Kock during his Highveld stay. Pierre Strydom rides him, so he will be given every chance to perform to his ability.”
On the same afternoon, Candice has another son of What A Winter, Arctic Drift, running in the Abe Bloomberg Gr3 Legal Eagle Stakes, at what could be a wet Kenilworth if the weather man is right.
“He is a nice staying type of What A Winter, out of the same dam as our stayer Pacific Chestnut. He ran on well in the first leg of the Winter Series and we are taking our chances here over the extra 200m. The undefeated Katak looks very smart and is clearly the horse to beat.”
At Hollywoodbets Greyville on Sunday, Candice saddles the joint highest-rated filly in South Africa, Clouds Unfold, in the Gr1 Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge over 1600m.
The chestnut filly is a dual winner of the Gr1 Majorca Stakes. Candice tells us that she is using the race as a stepping stone into the Gr1 Garden Province Stakes on July day.
“We will see if she can take on the boys or not,” she adds.
The high class Drakenstein bred and raced Clouds Unfold had a nice preparation run at Kenilworth on 3 June, running under 3 lengths behind the crack sprinter Run Fox Run over the 1000m at Kenilworth. That was too short for her and it was a smart effort.
She has a mountain to scale against the likes of Rainbow Bridge and Do It Again on Sunday – but is loaded with class, so don’t discount her being in the mix!