The new generation is making their mark on racing and it is time for the geriatrics to be put out to pasture. That is the message from the Flamingo Park meeting on 26 September, where talented young men dominated the afternoon. Jockey Donavan Mansour rode four of the five Shaun Miller winners on the card and it is both exciting and intriguing to think that their combined ages are not even 50!
Sand racing is not for the emotionally or physically faint-hearted on the best of days. But with these two professionals on the day’s honour role, that also reflected names like Simons, Yeni and Van Der Merwe, then one realises that the future of the game, from a talent pool perspective, is in capable hands.
The late Western Cape jockey Stanley Amos would have been 93 years old if he was alive today and he set the benchmark for jockeys when he retired in 1983 at the age of 65. Granted there was less racing in those days but it was also an era when a lot less medical options existed in terms of covering up the unmistakable signs of advancing years. The lads then also earned a lot less than the glamour boys of today.So from a pension perspective they had more motivation to perservere. Amos interestingly won his first of six great Met victories at the age of eighteen.
Drawing a parallel in today’s terms, it would mean that Mansour would have to ride to the year 2050 to equal the legendary Amos’ feat. It would also mean that a jockey like Karl Neisius would need to soldier on for another decade – and we would like to hear his frank opinion as to how he feels both physically and mentally about making an attempt on that milestone! It would be interesting to hear the thoughts of some of the older jockeys like Felix Coetzee, Kevin Shea, and Glen Hatt – who were all young and fresh-faced once upon a time.
The Kimberley meeting bucked the recent trend with favourites arriving and the exotics paying next to nothing. Mansour and Miller’s most impressive winner of the afternoon was undoubtedly the Ingrid and Markus Jooste-owned Jupiter Symphony who ran right away from a weak field of older horses on unfavourable weight terms, to win the MR72 Handicap over 1600m. This Klawervlei bred is by the rather low-profile stallion, Requiem, out of an unraced National Emblem mare. He has now won three of his six starts and looks destined for as big as it gets in Kimberley.
The Jooste dominance of Kimberley racing was reflected in the fact that the Steinhoff powerhouse owns or part-owns all of the Miller winners. This may not exactly reflect a fairytale career progression for a large percentage of their horses, as the likes of the ninth race winner, Linda My Love, cost R1,3 million at sale, but Flamingo Park has provided an ideal landing strip for many of their turf dropouts.
Apprentice JP van der Merwe rode the other Miller winner when he sent Arctic Jet about his business in impressive fashion to win the first leg of the Pick Six. Muzi Yeni rode a clever race to win the seventh race when he brought the Human-trained Richinstyle home to win-after a rare feat in outfoxing Donavan Mansour on yet another likely Miller winner in Bay Of Gibraltar. Yeni looked beaten at the 250m marker but cleverly had something in reserve on the improved son of Cataloochee.
So the young ones dominate and grab the laurels on a day that reflects the rising tide of youth. There may be no substitute for experience, but there is no doubt that the future of horseracing lies with those on the right side of 30!