The Daily Grind

Mike De Kock and Joey Ramsden

Two Great Men. Mike De Kock and Joey Ramsden

It is great to be back from Mauritius where we had the most awesome holiday. For the first time, we rented a house rather than booking into a hotel and I would recommend it to everyone. We had a first-class time and were looked after tremendously well.

Sadly we missed Andrew Fortune’s first meeting there. I believe he rode a 2nd place but it would have been nice for him to ride a winner. It is funny when one meets up with all these people so far from home and it is like nothing has changed. Andrew pops round to the house in Mauritius with Ashley and baby Sean, same as he does when in CT, and it really does feel rather strange. One thing I do know; I think Andrew will succeed, not just in rattling a few Mauritian owners, but also getting the backs up of quite a few jockeys as well. Robbie Burke and Johnny Geroudis look like his two main targets. I have no doubt Andrew will succeed.

Everyone on the island is absolutely racing “verskrik” and whenever you go out with anyone remotely connected to racing, all they can talk about is the race card which is coming out. It is interesting that we in South Africa pride ourselves on trying to get as full a field as possible to make racing as “interesting as possible” and also to attract the gambler’s rand. Yet on the island they have small fields and massive interest.

They are also doing huge amounts of gambling turnover because it is not such a – dare I use the word – lottery. I do agree that racing is a game of skill but in many respects it is a lottery. With the smaller fields In Mauritius, punters are able to focus on those seven or eight main runners, make what they think is an informed opinion and thus do their boots on it – win, lose or draw. For me, it is food for thought but it is difficult to change certain people’s opinions.

I always find the big feature races there, with less horses, are far more fascinating than ours with six or seven with a chance and ten having no chance or right to be in the race, ruining it for the other six. Would people be more prepared to have a larger bet in the smaller fields? It certainly seems to work for them in Mauritius. The rise across the board of merit ratings has been a hot topic here for a long time. From my personal point of view, while everything needs to be looked at frequently, to just go across the board willy-nilly and put everything up by six points does seem ludicrous. I have fillies in the yard that are in the 90’s which should be in the low 80’s. They are claiming that we are on an international classification; well, if you are in the high 90’s in the UK, you are an extremely decent and valuable filly.

I will not be using names but there is no way some of my fillies in the 90’s are anything like that. It is something that really makes one wonder. Is it just laziness? I don’t know but it was a topic of conversation that came up in Mauritius. The Mauritians buy 90% of their horses from South Africa and they are now having to buy horses with ratings much higher than before. Where do they now place them?

They certainly seem to have a good and well-managed system and now suddenly they are buying horses six points higher and are having to run them in a class higher than they should be running in. Does this make our South African horse unattractive to them?

Again, I am not sure. I suppose the one saviour on that front is that the rupee is so strong against the rand that they will basically be buying our horses this year at 25% discount. I have no doubt the phone will be ringing off the hook with buyers wanting to refresh next year’s racing stock. It will be interesting to see how they fit in on their programs. Ultimately our figures seem to be sandwiched together. There seems to be very little differential between what looks to be a good horse in the making and something not so good.

A good example is Stan Elley’s horse, Dynastic Power, which has won 2 from 3 and a horse like Captaincy, which won a moderate Maiden at Durbanville.

Anyone with a pair of eyes can see that Stan’s horse looks destined for the tops. He has a nice pedigree and he really looks top class so how he came in with such a lowly merit rating is beyond me. I just wonder what these guys do with their spare time.

Anyway, good luck to Stan; it looks as if he has a very nice horse there and is certainly one I will be putting in my notebook for the current season. Anyway, my desk is overflowing so it is back to the grindstone for me and the daily grind of running a stable.

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