Randjesfontein trainer Candice Dawson displayed her prowess as a tactician and horsewoman of enormous talent when the Master Of My Fate filly Sentbydestiny swept aside her male counterparts to score a rare victory for the fairer sex in Saturday’s R325 000 Gr1 Premiers Champion Stakes at Hollywoodbets Greyville.
It was a dream plan come together for the Durban-born Candice, whose bargain buy joined the illustrious ranks of fairer sex stars Roland’s Song (1988) and Arabian Lass (1996) to have beaten the boys in this premier test of talent over the past 45 years.
“That’s amazing. Wow!” Candice told the Sporting Post after being informed of this historical rarity of the achievement, and went on to explain how she had loved Sentbydestiny at the National 2yo Sale last year.
“We had the mandate from our Mauritius-based owner Mr Vicky Veeramootoo and, while she wasn’t a big filly, everything was in the right place and she had something special about her,” she explained.
And how did she manage to buy such a well-related filly from a top farm like Varsfontein for just R80 000? By the way, Varsfontein bred two Gr1 winners and a Gr2 winner on Saturday.
“I really can’t explain how we got her so cheap! There was nothing unique about the timing of her coming up on the sale. Hindsight is an exact science and it’s great to reflect back now on what a great buy she was. All her sisters are stakes winners and she comes from one of the great farms in South Africa. One needs a bit of luck too,” she laughed.
Candice explained how a decision was made to consider taking on the colts if she pulled a wide gate in the Thekwini Stakes.
“She ran in the Golden Slipper on Durban July day. She was under the twitch on the way to the start. She spread a shoe and ran slightly wide. Yet finished fifth and just over three lengths off the winner. That was in the girls’ race, which was run in faster time to the boys. So considering all those factors, we felt we wouldn’t be biting off more than we could chew when getting 2,5kgs from the males.”
Brave but logical thinking. But, as they say, the rest is history, and just four years after saddling her first winner, Candice has elevated herself into a unique space on the South African racing landscape.
A daughter of Jet Master stallion Master Of My Fate, the Varsfontein-bred Sentbydestiny is the fifth stakes winning filly out of Badger Land’s Listed Lady’s Slipper runner-up Princess Tobin.
She also produced recent East Cape Derby winner American Princess, the Gr2 Sceptre Stakes winner Badger’s Cove, Gr3 The Debutante winner Princess Peach and East Cape Fillies Nursery winner Princess Alberta.
Candice feels that Sentbydestiny will show her true colours as a late three year old and should go 2000m and further.
And the timing of the top filly from the only fully female owned and managed racing stable in South Africa downing the boys as the sun set on National Women’s Month is even sweeter!
With dreams of taking on the world, CK Racing has grown to an 85 strong string at Randjesfontein under Candice and her sister Tammi, together with partner Kathryn Ralphs
They have grown to four barns at the leading training centre after having taken over two barns from Cape Town-bound Geoff Woodruff. Their neighbours are fellow Gr1 winner Stuart Pettigrew and Mike de Kock.
Candice said that the accolades being dished out were rather to be heaped on the team.
She said that Racing Manager Kathryn Ralphs, Assistant trainer Tamarin Dawson, Stable Employees and Head Grooms Shepard Ncube and Emanuel Supina, and Sentbydestiny’s Groom Lubabalo Mzingeli, all deserved a special mention in the Gr1 victory success story.
“Winning races is a serious team effort. From our staff to our owners, jockeys, farriers, feed merchants and vets, everybody plays their part. If we fail in one area, it breaks the momentum,”she adds seriously.
While the majority of Candice’s runners are in the Gauteng region, KwaZulu-Natal has been a happy hunting ground for her.
Her grey Aussie-bred flyer Infamous Fox could be back to defend his Listed Thukela Handicap title in 2021, having won the Durban July day feature at Hollywoodbets Greyville for the past three years running.
The handsome son of Foxwedge was another astute buy when Derek and Lindsay Ralphs purchased the soldier at the Klawervlei Farm Sale.
Candice’s Dad owned a few horses with Herman Brown and her entry in racing dates back to the age of 6 when she was given the option of either being Dad’s caddy or watching his horses at the track at Summerveld.
One of three sisters who chose Summerveld ahead of Royal Durban, Candice never looked back!
She started her training with Michael Airey and then moved onto Geoff Woodruff before a stint with Kumaran Naidoo who allowed her free reign to fly his flag in Johannesburg.
Candice lives by the motto that ‘one never stops learning in racing’.
Today Candice’s folks and her youngest sister are resident in Scotland and she misses them. She is unmarried but ‘happily partnered’ with leading racecaller Alistair Cohen.