Trainer Glen Kotzen’s yards in the Cape and KZN have been in a rich vein of form and he is proud to find himself and his loyal groom Yamkela Zafunele maintaining their lead on their respective logs in the Hollywoodbets Back On Track Challenge after Wednesday’s Hollywoodbets Scottsville meeting.
The challenge, with prize money up to the value of R530 000 on offer, is divided into categories that include horses, trainers, grooms, jockeys and apprentices.
Every point counts and they are allocated according to the official finishing position of each horse and jockey in the race. The number of points on offer is dependent on the number of actual horses participating in the race.
Speaking to the Sporting Post on Thursday afternoon, Glen Kotzen said that the competition was ‘amazing, a great initiative’, and besides the financial and accolade rewards, ‘had the guys talking in the mornings’.
“I chatted to Yamkela today and he is all smiles and so proud to be the current championship leader. It creates a great sense of competitive goodwill amongst all sectors and any financial incentive is very definitely welcomed by everybody right now! It also encourages trainers to run their horses and with fields limited to 12 now, the draws are not a dealbreaker, necessarily.”
|1||Yamkela Zafunele||G S Kotzen||59||1||2|
|2||Samwell Mbungendlu||D Kannemeyer||48||0||3|
|3||Classy Moshe||J J van Vuuren||46||2||1|
|4||Thabang Tlali||D R Drier||44||0||1|
|5||Samuel Mfamane||D W Moore||40||1||1|
|5||Unathi Mvakwendlu||D S Bosch||40||1|
The Paarl horseman added that holding on to the lead in the final month ‘won’t be easy’, but that the points structure of rewarding every runner, ‘kept the competition on a knife-edge’.
He thanked Hollywoodbets for all their contributions to racing.
“They are great marketers. And their heart is in the game. When you create a win-win incentive, then everybody participates and the spin-offs are beneficial to the individual players, the spirit in the province and racing in the wider sense.”
|1||G S Kotzen||395||39||7||9|
|2||D R Drier||313||33||3||8|
|3||M D Miller||297||40||2||11|
|4||G H Van Zyl||270||39||3||4|
Talented 20 year old Jason Gates says he is ‘in it to win to win it’ and leads the apprentice log in the Hollywoodbets Back On Track Challenge.
Jason, who comes out of his time at the end of the year, admits that he thrives on the competitive nature of racing generally, and feels that the challenge adds needle and gives the sometimes lesser acknowledged stakeholders a chance to make a name for themselves – and earn some welcome cash in the process.
Total prize money to the value of R40 000 will be shared amongst the top 5 apprentices with the winner banking R20 000.
“I enjoy the percentage nature of the competition. I don’t always have the best of rides, but love it that when I have completed a race, I get a point at worst!”he told the Sporting Post.
Jason divides his time riding work between Summerveld and Ashburton.
As a strong natural lightweight he gets his chances and says he is out to do his level best and keen to do well so that he can keep his name up in lights with trainers.
Keagan de Melo leads the jockey log, while the Dennis Drier-trained Perfect Air is the leader in the horse category.
Next week we will chat to more of the individual participants in the challenge.
Sunday’s Hollywoodbets Greyville meeting heralds the final month home straight of the challenge, reaching a climax on Vodacom Durban July day.
Click on the image below to see all the standings