In the UK, the “BBC Sports Personality Of The Year” is a big deal. The winner was announced on 20 December.
There were six nominees – Lewis Hamilton, Stuart Broad, Jordan Henderson, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Tyson Fury and female jockey, Hollie Doyle.
Lewis Hamilton not unexpectedly won, while Hollie Doyle was placed third.
If DSTV had a similar award, it’s unlikely racing would be represented despite the outstanding achievements of champion jockey Warren Kennedy and trainer Paul Peter. We’re about on a par with table tennis.
But – just for a moment – imagine there was an award and – similar to the UK – the media got a vote. As Business Day is one of the most respected newspapers in the country, this would hopefully mean a vote for their racing writer.
One might imagine this column’s vote would go to Kennedy who finished 53 winners clear of his nearest rival in the jockeys log, but you’d be wrong. Certainly, the transformation from journeyman jockey to champion is some achievement and – unlike most of us – the KZN-based rider will raise his glass to 2020 on New Year’s Eve.
No, this column’s vote would go to trainer Paul Peter who has provided Kennedy with many of his winners this year – notably unbeaten superstar filly, Summer Pudding.
10 years ago Peter swapped the office of his family’s paint business for a trainers licence. It was officially granted in May 2010.
What the SA racing media have found out is that there’s a shrewd head on the shoulders of this guy in his late-forties and to realise his dream he had to put in some serious ground work.
Before applying for his licence, Peter spent time as assistant with James Maree and it’s questionable whether anyone knows thoroughbreds better than the former jockey. In his prime, he was always a threat to established stars like Martin Schoeman and Gerald Turner.
It’s worth looking at the figures Peter has posted for the 2019/20 season as well as the first four months of the new campaign.
Last season he finished in fifth place in the national log with his 114 winners just six shy of the total achieved by champion trainer, Sean Tarry. Along with Tarry, Justin Snaith, Brett Crawford and Mike De Kock, his stakes tally exceeded R11 million.
While it was another notch on his belt for Tarry and his chief patron Chris van Niekerk, the pandemic meant his R17 million ran total was R13 million less than the previous season. Still, rather like Liverpool in the Premier League, he is annually the man to beat.
Winning Form statistics to December 8 this term show Peter at the top of the log with 48 winners and R700 000 more in stake money than his nearest rival, Justin Snaith.
Of course, it’s the exploits of unbeaten Summer Pudding that has been the backbone of the stable’s success and a clash with Belgariion in the Sun Met is a mouth-watering prospect.
In his post-race interviews, Peter has been quick to praise the part played by his son, Tony, and elder statesman, Ormond Ferraris. In spotting that Ferraris was in the twilight of his career and he could learn from the veteran trainer in the same way as he did with James Maree, it has to be regarded as a major coup.
To put it in football terms, it’s similar to Kaiser Chiefs appointing former England footballer and former Tellytrack pundit, Terry Paine, as an advisor. Whether that would ever happen is debatable.
Bookmakers quote Peter as a 22-10 chance to win his first trainers title and it’s very much a question of whether others in his 150-strong string can play their part. MK’s Pride has already proved he’s a useful three year-old.
But Messrs Tarry, Snaith and De Kock won’t go down without a fight.
Celtic Sea continues to fly the flag for the champion trainer, Belgarion heads the Snaith charge and we’ll see how good De Kock’s three year-old, Malmoos, is in Saturday’s Cape Guineas.
Yes, Paul Anthony Peter ticks all the boxes as racing’s top achiever in 2020.
- David Mollett on Business Day