Hollywoodbets-sponsored Gavin Smith was crowned East Cape Champion trainer for the 13th time at his home base of Fairview on Friday. His last title came in 2018. The 56 year old puts his success down this season to a terrific team effort and the fact that the yard didn’t experience any quiet spells.
“We are dealing with flesh and blood, and there are so many variables in the equation. You asked me to name one thread of gold that made the difference for us, and I would have to say that we were consistently fortunate to regularly turn out the winners,” adds the man who was born into racing in Gqeberha.
As the sun set on Sunday, the Gavin Smith Racing team finished the season in a highly commendable fifth spot on the national log, with their 134 winners and gross stakes of R9 381 313 putting them well clear of arch-rival Alan Greeff on 111 winners and his stakes of R8070 213.
While he has saddled more winners and earned more stakes, Gavin points out that the impact of the events of the past few years, including the Phumelela collapse and covid, on stakes is being felt to this day and will take time to overcome.
“I’m very happy with our stakes total achieved for last season. We are all competing in the same pool. But there is no question that we need stakes to improve. The stakes benchmark is the foundation and what influences the majority of owners’ actions – they scale down, they don’t buy as much. I do feel that we seem to be heading in the right direction though, and are in good hands. So we remain hopeful, and there is no lack of love and passion when it comes to this game,” he smiles.
Gavin says that it takes a collective of things going right and the proper structures in place to keep a yard within a stone’s throw of the silverware.
“I think we were fortunate to buy well. Horses like Global Drummer, Safari Blue and Jaeger Moon have progressed and won their races and been consistent. The Futura filly Ekoria warrants a special mention. She has won 3 of 5 and ran a terrific race at Hollywoodbets Scottsville when fourth in the Gr1 Allan Robertson. She’s very exciting!”
Gaving adds that they have had competitive runners at all levels and have a very loyal core of passionate owners. “Our team is rock solid and have been in place over many years.”
He says that in a racing yard attention to detail is vital and his team are seasoned professionals.
“My Grooms Victor, Jarred and Bondas are solid soldiers – reliable and experienced. They are our backbone, together with assistants Fransie Jacobs and my son Dean. And then my wife Marilyn provides a pillar of strength. It’s not all a bed of roses and when one is down, it’s good to have somebody close that understands the industry,” he adds.
Jockeys who know the individual horses are also vital, and looking ahead to the new season, Gavin says he is very happy to be able to call on the services of JP van der Merwe and Aldo Domeyer.
“It helps making use of top-class riders who get to know the individual horses. Believe me, it takes time to get a horse to track and when the jockey is part of process, it removes unnecessary risks,” he adds.
Hollywoodbets has been a Gavin Smith supporter since he started.
“I cannot thank the Hollywoodbets team enough. Never mind for all the help, input, assistance and beautiful kit that they have given our team – but just look at the amazing things they are doing all over South Africa for this game. It’s a privilege to race under the purple and gold flag and I’m glad I could win the championship again to give them a tangible show of appreciation.”
With things happening down South, would Gavin Smith be looking at taking a string down to the Mother City?
“Never say never! It’s all about having the right horses and being competitive. I see there are exciting things planned so who knows,” he laughs.
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