‘Racehorses Are Bred To Run’ – Spies

'The Aussies are doing it - why shouldn't we?

The days of trainers sitting on horses who earn nothing while standing peering over their stable doors is a thing of the past.

The luxury of elaborate patience is a pressured commodity in an environment of spiralling costs and modest stakes.

We have seen newly crowned SA Champion trainer Justin Snaith returning to the Cape from KZN with some of his SA Champions Season string and running them within days.

Justin Snaith – adapting (Pic -Candiese Lenferna)

Take the well-performed 6yo Nexus, as an example.

On 3 July he was contesting the Vodacom Durban July at Hollywoodbets Greyville. Exactly two weeks later he was back home at Kenilworth and pipped a short head by Piet Botha’s soldier Rockin’ Ringo in a Pinnacle Plate.

While Snaith probably has more bigger budget owners on average than many yards, he probably echoed the sentiments of owners of all shapes and sizes countrywide when he said that these days, horses have to run.

His 2yo Gaudi’s Masterpiece is another example of a bit of out-of-the-box thinking.

On 13 June he ran second in a maiden at Kenilworth.

Three weeks later he was pipped by Bard Of Avon in the KZN leg of the BSA Sales Cup at Hollywoodbets Greyville.

At the end of the same month Gaudi’s Masterpiece was unplaced in the Gr1 Premiers Champion Stakes behind Good Traveller at the same Durban track.

Last Saturday – that’s a week later – he ran fourth banking R36 000 behind William Robertson in the Gauteng leg of the BSA Sales Cup at Turffontein. Three different provinces and four races in under two months.

A senior racing man told the Sporting Post that if every trainer countrywide shifted their mindsets and started thinking like Vaal-based Corne Spies, our field size issues would probably be mostly resolved.

Corne Spies – another busy season (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

And Spies acknowledged the vote of confidence and compliment, while explaining how he started out.

“When my Dad Tobie was training, it was accepted that only after the horse had run they would look at the programme and decide where next. So that meant the horse would only run in a month plus again. I was conditioned in the same manner, but then when I went on my own and had my own bills to pay, I started thinking more laterally.”

Corne reckons that if a horse is going fast at home, why not do it in a race rather – they are after all bred to run?

“There are plenty of horses working every day. Why not race them fit, rather? Give the owner a chance to earn at the same time. I don’t think any owner has fun or earned a dime with a horse standing in the box.”

He also cited a top racing nation like Australia, who have a feature prep three days before a race like the Melbourne Cup.

“If the Aussies are doing it, we shouldn’t be finding it that difficult! I think it is the Lexus Stakes, a 2500m race on the Derby day Saturday. Some run there and go straight into the Melbourne Cup on the Tuesday, days later. We are not talking sprints either,” he laughed.

Spies said that as long as a horse had the constitution and was sound, they could race.

“Naturally, not all horses can handle travelling and racing often. I would not stretch a strip of a filly, as an example. But if your horse is sound why send him at speed over the grass, when he could race today and then a few days later again? And maybe even pick up a cheque in the process. The irony is that I have noted that a horse of mine that would race three times in a week, would inevitably put up their peak showing in the third outing!”

Corne raised eyebrows in some quarters last weekend when his top 2yo’s William Robertson and Supreme Quest, who both placed third in Gr1 races at the Marshalls World Of Sport Festival Of Racing at Hollywoodbets Greyville on 31 July, ran at Turffontein in the two well endowed BSA Sales races.

That’s Gr1 performances, a return trip to the Highveld, and then another tough race at Turffontein – all in the space of seven days.

While Supreme Quest was beaten just over a length by Paul Peter’s Big Burn – herself a KZN returnee having raced three week earlier in Durban – William Robertson came home firing on all cylinders, to take his earnings to over R300 000 in a good start to his career.

William Robertson wins the BSA Sales Cup on Saturday (Pic – JC Photos)

Corne’s smashing Rafeef star will be gelded and is likely to be aimed at the Dingaans.

“He desperately needs the gelding and he will be lengths better this season. He is a really smart horse,” the master traveller tells the Sporting Post.

Sean Tarry’s Kuuma is another example of a 2yo who did his bit this past season.

He won at Hollywoodbets Greyville on the KZN Breeders raceday on 27 June. He then went home and followed up with a victory at the Vaal on Tuesday 27 July.

Four days later he was back in Durban when going second to Dyce in the Epol Gr2 Umkhomazi Stakes. That’s not really Tarry style on average, but it shows what can be done.

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