Paarl-based trainer Glen Kotzen has made a flying start to the 2011/12 season, having chalked up seven winners so far with a week still left of August. He backed up his winning double at Durbanville on 24 August with two cracking second places and showed that his is a yard to watch as we approach the Cape summer season.
Kotzen runs a large training facility at the Woodhill Estate in Agter Paarl and complements this operation with a very active satellite yard at Summerveld in KwaZulu-Natal, under the management of the super efficient and vastly experienced Frikkie Greyling.
The dynamics of running what is probably one of the largest strings in South Africa works extremely well, and the 2009 Vodacom Durban July winning trainer looks a dead cert to get amongst the Group Race winners again this season, with a promising and diverse string that includes the SA Champion Two Year old filly, Princess Victoria. He has proven again that the correct mix of technical expertise, solid management personnel and the vital people skills, can mean success for somebody who is prepared to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty.
While he would have been pleased with his two maiden winners, which included the Deep Sleep filly Sunley Martini, who was a runaway winner of the third race and the Requiem gelding Spandangle who won a weak 2400m event, it would have been the smart fight shown by his two second placed horses that would have produced a smile. His R30 000 Vintage Sale purchase Agarkar, put up a particularly impressive performance when going down narrowly to the multiple Group placed Abington in the seventh race. The Ennion-trained Victory Moon gelding looked a penalty kick in the seventh, a Novice Plate over 1600m, but would have gotten a fright from Kotzen’s Langerman third placer Agarkar, who ran slightly green but gave plenty of raw cheek on the rail. Warren Laird, who owns Agarkar, also part-owns the previous race winner, I Am What I Am.
Dean Kannemeyer probably reflected back on a rather disappointing day by his own high standards, but would have been thrilled to watch his Badger’s Drift gelding I Am What I Am return from a two month rest to win the sixth race, an MR 78 Handicap run over 2000m. This was the four year old Cheveley Stud –bred horse’s sixth start and it is always heartening when a horse wins his post-maiden run. He had beaten subsequent winner Royal Bloodline in impressive fashion at Kenilworth on 25 June and he downed yet another Glen Kotzen-trained horse here in the improved Prizefighter on whom Sean Cormack rode a flawless race. I Am What I Am runs in Kannemeyer’s own silks in partnership with his good friend and patron, Johannesburg-based Company Director Warren Laird.They paid a mere R30 000 for the gelding who has had a chequered start to his racing – including a career threatening injury which almost put paid to the dreams that Laird had when he named him after the Disco group Village People’s hit song of 1978.
Richard Fourie was the most succesful jockey on the day with a good double feature show of power riding. This young man continues to impress and looks a good bet at long-odds for the SA Champion jockey title if he keeps the work-rate up!He rode a great race from the front on the promising looking Chestnut Moon who won the second race in Hassen Adams’ silks. If Justin Snaith can sort out this gelding’s breathing problems, he looks a horse to stick with. Fourie also won again for Adams later in the day on the promising Abington.
Veteran rider Karl Neisius didn’t have the greatest card of rides but he managed to get on the board as the sun sunk below the horizon, when he steered the Mike Bass-trained Mombasa to a convincing and overdue win in the last race, a Graduation Plate for fillies and mares. This race was characterised by the dominance of the Wilgerbosdrift stallion Tiger Ridge, who sired three fancied fillies in the eventual winner as well as Grey Rose and the well-supported Tiger’s Joy. The latter was scratched at the start but the Tiger Ridge swinger arrived with Grey Rose showing her liking for the course and distance and also jockey Glen Hatt, who she certainly runs for.
You saw the picture and read it first on the Sporting Post! The big news from Avontuur Stud is the birth this morning of Champion South African sprinter Val De Ra’s full brother. General Manager Pippa Mickleburgh says she is thrilled to report that the little chap is big and strong. Talk about being born with pressure! All eyes will follow his progress and are we looking at the next big thing to hit SA horseracing? At just one day old, we should let him enjoy his youth for now and our congratulations and best wishes go out to the team at Avontuur.