It has been a busy ten days, starting with the Woolavington and Daily News at Greyville and culminating in the Investec Racing Festival at Epsom 2015. Anyone of us being lucky enough to attend the Investec Oaks and the Investec Derby will know what I am talking about, writes Joey Ramsden.
Friday, as usual, saw a really big crowd watch Aiden O’Brien’s ‘third choice’ Qualify, storm home in the Investec Oaks. It is good to see it is not only us South African’s who get it wrong as to which one is the right one but also the genius Irishman and his team. Racing is a great leveller all round.
Moving on to Saturday, when we saw one of the best racing spectacles I have ever seen.
A big thank you to Investec for their hospitality and for what they have done for English racing in what was (and this gave me goose bumps) the 236th running of the Investec Epsom Derby. If one managed to see the start on South African television, the fantastic English Marching Band, followed by the String Orchestra and the pyrotechnics that went with it, literally minutes before the big race, left me with tears in my eyes. The people who were privileged enough to view this say it was one of the best spectacles, not just in the UK but in the East and maybe even Dubai, that they have ever seen. It was classy, tasteful and had me tingling all over.
The Investec Derby was won in fine style by Golden Horn and trainer of the moment, John Gosden, along with his new stable jockey Frankie Dettori, blowing away all doubters who said the favourite would not stay. He looks to be an extremely good horse indeed; not just the way he handled the tricky Epsom track but also in the scintillating style he managed to win the race. The same can be said for the second horse, Jack Hobbs. A big well done to William Haggas, the pseudo-South African for the third place, which looks to be a nice St Leger horse in the making. It will be good to have one of ‘us’win the big one in September.
But this weekend’s goings-on at Epsom turned out to be just one of those weekends in European Sport where one had to be there to believe it all. The men’s finals at Roland Garros, while not an ‘epic’affair as it only went on for four sets, was a truly great competition.
On The Ball
Watching two deep-playing players volley the ball back and forth as hard as they could was mouth-watering stuff. It was a great test of both strength and stamina. Some of the rallies really left one shaking one’s head in admiration.
The tennis was not only epic but the applause given to Novak Djokovic for many minutes afterwards left me in the same sort of state as the String Orchestra before the Derby. The spectators were just as good to the winner, Stan Wawrinka, who won despite having some deep personal problems of his own. How he managed to stay so focused for so long and beat one of the supreme sportsmen of the last 100 years, I really do not know. It is amazing what sportsmen these tennis players and golfers are. They put the soccer playing pro’s to complete and utter shame. I am not sure if I shall ever be able to watch another football game again.
Talking of football, those of us who were unlucky enough to watch the most boring display between two moderate sides – England and Ireland and their spineless and painful draw – will know what I am talking about. What is the point of these International friendlies? I really do not know – apart from playing forty four players and boring us all to death. No goals, no nothing. It makes one cringe. Sadly, Roy Hodgson, who is a deep intellect, should be strung up. One thing is for certain: he does not appear to know much about attacking football. If that is what he thinks fans of football world-wide want to see, he should take a very good look at what is going on in tennis and racing in Europe to get some idea of what sport is truly all about. After the shenanigans of Sepp Blatter and his FIFA buddies, football really has a lot to live up to. Despite the Champion’s League final and a good display by Barcelona, it really needs a good kick up its backside. They have money pouring in from left, right and centre, bribes going round left, right and centre and some of the biggest corruption scandals ever seen in sport ever but it just seems to be business as usual for FIFA. Anyway, enough on that subject or I will never finish this piece in time to go to press.
Cycle Of Life
European sport came to the fore again with Bradley Wiggins’ display in beating the most miles covered in an hour record in the velodrome in the Olympics. What an incredible piece of single-mindedness and focus, hammering away at those pedals to achieve the perfect end result. While not as much loved as many of his sporting contemporaries, he is an interesting fellow and has an amusing amount of quirk, a sense of humour and his own Wiggins sixtyish ‘mod’ style. Looking at his list of sporting achievements, from winning the Tour de France to winning double gold at the Beijing Olympics, he is a man with many cycling hats. The atmosphere at the velodrome looked to be electric.
It looks to be interesting racing week ahead, both at Greyville and down here, with the Post Merchants being run next Friday. Uncannily enough, we have pulled another stinking draw. If anyone were to look at our past runners in this race and their draws, you would have to shake your head and agree that there is definitely something wrong with the NRB’s computer system. I have had a good chance of winning over many years in the past but have never managed to catch a single figure draw. Our own Brutal Force is drawn 13. The only reason he is close to any paint is that Greyville cannot handle too many runners!
Soldier Of Fortune
It was good to see Brave Tin Soldier start off in such fine style and Ingrid and Markus Jooste’s/Mike Azzie’s colt, Rabada, certainly looks to be worth following. He won in fine style with his ears pricked- something one does not see too often. I am not too sure how strong the opposition was but the way in which he won looked to be very special indeed.
It was good to get home after being away for a week and it is business as usual. We had some nice runners at Kenilworth over the weekend. It is soft ground time here at Kenilworth and it takes a different kind of fitness to get them to run well. We gave many of our horses a spin on the grass this morning to up their standard.
It is time to catch up with being away for a few days away and get back on the treadmill. Once again, many thanks to Investec for giving us such a marvellous racing spectacle and doing the things that they have done for English Racing. I am sure they would love to do that little bit more over here and it would be smashing to see what they could achieve with a big event here, if given the chance. Can you imagine how fantastic the J&B Met and the Vodacom Durban July could be?
I only hope whoever is in charge of the advertising for these events was watching the English Racing Festival and took some notes.