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20 Years Ago: Sands Of Time – July 1991

JUNE 30 – JULY 6

Pick Six betting hits a new high when Natal punters push the gross pool at Scottsville to a record R2.3 million.

Mighty Crystal and Fast Gun fight out the finish in the Administrator’s Champion Futurity over a mile at Greyville. The outcome of the race is greatly influenced by Judgemental, who uncontrollably bolts along upfront, setting much too fast a pace (the first 1000m goes in 59 seconds). Few jockeys recognise the seriousness of the pace, and most of the field cries ‘enough!’ shortly after entering the straight. Fast Gun, coming from near last, runs the last 400m in a breathtaking (hand timed) 22.5 seconds – but even that is not enough to win.

Trevor Denman, one of the best track announcers in the US according to the Blood Horse magazine, reaches an agreement with Hollywood Park to call races there. Denman is the regular caller at Santa Anita, and a member of the Breeders Cup Day coverage team for the past two years.

The Aga Khan goes to court again in his bid to have his 1989 Oaks-winner Alisya reinstated as the winner (the filly tested positive for a banned camphor derivative and was disqualified 18 months after the running of the Oaks). So far the Aga, who accuses the Jockey Club of misconstruing its own Rules, has had little joy in his battle with the Jockey Club.

While Cape racegoers are washed off the track and disappointingly push their armchairs close to the M-Net channel, Flaming Rock gets up very late in a slow run Rothmans July to deprive Millard’s Al Mufti from victory. It is Flaming Rock’s third Gr1 win of the season. The first three horses past the post are imports, as Northern Dancer’s son Rakeen finishes third. Rakeen’s jockey Lloyd says he “would have won” if it hadn’t been for interference from his stable companion St Just, while Dave Mollet is emphatic he’ll be saving up for the next 12 months to back Rakeen in the 1992 Rothmans July.

Winner Flaming Rock pulls up sore and for that reason foregoes the traditional victory parade in front of the stands. Instead he walks around the parade ring … with his scarlet Queens Plate blanket on.

Bookmakers have an excellent July, as upsets in the races leading up to the Rothmans July see to it that few of the traditional doubles taken with the big race survive.

Hong Kong announces a record season. About six billion US$ was wagered on and off track during the season that extended from September to mid-June. This record amounts to about 60% of the ten billion wagered in the US and Canada for all of 1990. In Hong Kong 67 racing days were conducted. Average daily attendance was 47.900. Racing was held on most Saturdays, some Sundays, and most Wednesday evenings. There are 129 off-course betting shops, there is inter-track wagering between the two tracks, and there are 550.000 telephone betting account holders.

New stallions Raise A Tradition, Galba and Real Account arrive in South Africa. They enter quarantine in Durban, but are destined for stud careers in the Cape.

In England a survey reveals that none-racegoers regard racecourses as expensive and class-ridden, and the language of racing and betting excessively esoteric, conveying a picture of a closed society inhabited by hardened regulars.

JULY 7 – 13

Clerk of Scales Charles Milner and the Jockey Club air their dirty linen after the Jockey Club finds that Milner has not contravened a specific Rule (in the Robin Hill case, dating back to December), but states that Milner possibly acted with a degree of negligence, to which Milner rather predictably takes exception. After all, like being pregnant, you’re either not guilty or you’re not – there’s no in-between

Highdown Stud announces a second dispersal sale, to be held in August. What will Norman Tilley buy this time?

A new national trainers association is formed (SARTA), under the chairmanship of Transvaal trainer WI Mills. The body counts four vice chairmen and four executive directors as its first office bearers.

An automated electronic timing and placing system is tested in Lexington, USA. The system will provide more precise readings of a horse’s fractional times and positions during a race. Official times at each point of call will be recorded for each runner (under the present systems only the time for the lead horse is available). The system includes transmitters which are placed on the horses’ girth and send out low frequency signals. These signals are received by loop antennas buried beneath the track surface. Computers register the time of each horse as it passes the checkpoints, and clockings are displayed on a video monitor. The computer is programmed to calculate the distance in lengths between the runners. The technology is based on that used to keep track of cars competing in the Indianapolis 500.

The weights issued for the Mainstay cause furore in the Millard-camp, when it is discovered that their sprinter Son Of A Champ has been allocated 54.5 kilos. This in comparison with the 56.5 kilos given to July winner Flaming Rock.

The press goes to town on the Millard fury, while the Clairwood handicapper states in a TV interview that he’d do the same if he had to do things over. In the same interview, the handicapper provides TV2/3 viewers with a 1-2-3 prediction for the Mainstay, which is a rather unusual bonus.

A group of punters who call themselves Pro Bono write a letter to the Daily News, stating “The last man in the world who should complain about the handicapping of his horses is Terrance Millard, who has been most leniently treated for years – one reason why he has been unduly successful in winning so many big races, including the first three in the July Handicap”. The Marine Parade punter’s letter ends with “Don’t worry Mr Aitken, many racegoers are with you and we think it a very poor show that such a successful trainer should act so badly against you, the handicapper”.

Peculiarly, no one pays much attention to what appears to be a much greater handicapping anomaly: the weight given to Miss Averof. In the Schweppes she fought out a desperate finish with Flaming Rock, going under by a head, in receipt of 2.5 kilos. Flaming Rock subsequently went on to win the Rothmans July. For the Mainstay, Miss Averof is set GIVE Flaming Rock one kilo. Has the world gone mad?

Shirley Pfeiffer, owner of Flaming Rock, attends the traditionally all-male Chairman’s dinner at Greyville, where she’s invited in honour of her July winner.

Provincial Administrators from around the country appoint a special committee to investigate bookmaker’s activities country-wide. It is the first time the Provinces have publicly cooperated in this way on racing matters. The committee, set to investigate common taxes, legislation and control, is chaired by Natal chief-stipe Rudi Diener. Racing Record editor Karel Miedema is appointed by the Cape’s Racing MEC to represent the Cape Province’s interests on the five man committee.

San Carlos causes yet another upset when he wins the Durban Merchants at 12/1, from a wide draw. Favourite King of the Strip runs second.

JULY 14 – 20

M-Net’s Barry Lambert announces a world-wide television audience for the Gold Cup, to be run at Greyville early in August. The Cup will be included in the international programme Gillette World Sport Special. Lambert predicts overseas jockeys riding in the Rothmans July within two years, and overseas horses (specially brought for the race) within five years.

Work starts on extensive alterations at Gosforth Park and Vaal Racecourse. Both facilities and the actual track will be improved at both venues.

The connections of Speaking Oak and War Horse disagree on the merits of their respective charges in the unsaddling enclosure at the Vaal, after Speaking Oak beats his rival while in receipt of six kilos. The disagreement is not entirely verbal and for that reason makes the local press. The trainer of War Horse states he’ll challenge winner Speaking Oak on equal terms in a match race “any time, any place”.

Ralph Rixon’s Secret Hoard wins the 1800m Clairwood Futurity.

JULY 21 – 27

The Griqualand West Racing Club looks set to make the Guiness Book of Records when it stages the “Barney Barnato Handicap (WFA)”, run at Kimberley over 1800m for a stake of R13.000. This is the first ever handicap staged worldwide that is run at weight for age terms at the same time! The official Jockey Club calendar carries the terms of the race in the same way, just to make everything official. And you thought Race Figure handicapping could be silly.

Incidentally, the “Barney Barnato” is officially described as an annual “festival of golf, ribald and revelry” held at the Kimberley golf club. Named after the most dominant and colourful personality of the diamond fields, the highlights for the “Barney Barnato” include “a bierfest, can-can girls, honky-tonk singalong, dominoes and pool”. According to the official Kimberley racecard, the “Barney Barnato” takes place from October 5 to October 12. Which explains, of course, why the Barney Barnato Handicap (WFA) is run on 22 July.

For those interested in the result of the handicap, it was won by Casual Meeting, who comes home first in a field of six. The 15/10 favourite Country Key runs second, while three of the other runners finish tailed off. The fate of the Kimberley handicapper is unknown.

Couplings are eliminated from all win pools in the Cape. Coupling will remain in operation, however, in Jackpot, Pick Six and double pools.

Wine of Origin confirms her status as the best three-year-old filly behind Star Effort when she wins the Tibouchina Stakes with topweight.

The start of the third race at Newmarket, a Maiden Plate, is delayed, according to the local Stipes report “due to a dog on the course”. The reason they spotted this one was probably because it didn’t have a number cloth and wasn’t in the betting.

Fairview is the venue for NatFed day, an inter-provincial meeting sponsored by the National Federation of OTA’s. Feature event on the nine-race card is the R75.000 Juvenile Champion Stakes. The race is won by Cape Town raider The Decorator, a son of Wicked Will. Transvaal visitor War Horse, who is favourite, finishes out of the places and is rumoured to have chipped a knee.

Millard clinches the seasonal trainer’s championship by a short head from Ferraris, when Olympic Duel wins the Mainstay. The race is run without Millard’s Son of a Champ, who was the centre of the handicapping row, and also without Rothmans July winner Flaming Rock, who is still a bit sore. Divine Master runs a close second, Miss Averof a game third.

JULY 28 – AUGUST 3

Terrance Millard announces his retirement, effective from the first of August. His son Tony takes over the stable.

The Winter Million Sale takes place at Gosforth Park, while a Horses in Training sale is held a day later in the parade ring at Greyville.

The Winter Million averages R9.200. Royal Prerogative’s daughter Country Glory, a 5-time winner, is the top priced lot when she goes for R130.000.

In the Greyville parade ring things are equally lively. Kick The Habit is knocked down at R150.000, Fine Token at R140.000. Top price of R240.000 is paid for the Northfields mare Dreamfields. The sale averages R55.000.

TopSport gets the contract to show the 1992 J&B Met after M-Net declines to join a potential bidding war.

Jockey Waichong Mawing returns from a brief spell in Mauritius to join, you guessed it, the Ferraris stable.

Cape racing takes the lead in sponsorships with the running of the Pip James Stakes, a weight for age race to be run at Kenilworth. Pip James is a colourful local bookmaker, who has ‘offices’ around the Cape Province. But the meeting is washed out (“I have never seen so much standing water on the course in all my time here” says course manager Luff the day before the meeting), and racing is postponed until the following Monday.

Icona wins the Gold Cup, after shifting almost the width of the track not far from home. His win is a triumph for his syndicate of owners, who gelded the son of Green Dancer after heart trouble was revealed a year previously.

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1 comment on “20 Years Ago: Sands Of Time – July 1991

  1. Kumaren Govender says:

    Why is there no video of the 1991 July race

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