With bold plans to travel South for the Cape Met later this month, World Sports Betting-sponsored Randjesfontein trainer Fanie Bronkhorst made a sparkling start to his new career when he saddled the gutsy mare Running Brave to win the R125 000 Gr3 London News Stakes at Turffontein on Saturday – a race run annually in honour of a chestnut champion whose victory in Hong Kong’s Gr1 Queen Elizabeth 11 Stakes in 1997 opened the international doors for SA racing in the post-political era.
Bronkhorst, who only took out his owner-trainer licence recently and saddled his first runner on 5 December, celebrated a sensational first winner on Saturday when the recent WSB Gauteng Summer Cup runner-up powered home under Muzi Yeni as a 2-1 favourite to withstand a dogged challenge from the improving Expressfromtheus and win by three quarters of a length in a time of 109,99 secs.
Bred by Summerhill Stud, the big-hearted Running Brave is a daughter of The Fort Stud’s Brave Tin Soldier (Storm Cat) out of the Jet Master mare Movingandgrooving and cost just R30 000 off the National 2yo Sale. She has won 8 races with 12 places from 30 starts for stakes of R1 700 274.
Fanie clearly fancied Running Brave’s chances in the WSB Summer Cup.
“After a shaky start, her prep all came together in the final two weeks and being beaten by champion Summer Pudding, with the rest well behind, was no mean feat!” says the proud 38 year old as he looks ahead to a possible bid on the Cape Met.
Hollywoodbets have the Brave Tin Soldier mare listed at 20-1 in their Cape Met ante-post.
“We plan to travel ten days before the race with Choice Carriers,” adds Fanie as he concedes that the long Kenilworth summer straight is not ideal for his talented flagbearer.
“But on the flipside, the left-handed turn will help her to settle better I believe,” he says positively, confirming Muzi Yeni will ride – ‘if he can travel’.
In terms of the current jockey travel protocols, Yeni, who with his trainer has acknowledged that Running Brave is no easy ride, rode at the Vaal on Tuesday, so is currently technically out of the Met candidate jockey pool.
It’s funny how things work in racing. Paul Matchett, who has mentored Fanie for the past 30 months, also enjoyed a great day at the office on Saturday and the duo were able to pose for a rare special moment student-teacher pic with their loads of silverware. Matchett’s star 3yo filly War Of Athena won the Gr3 Three Troikas Stakes earlier in the day.
A man whose current stature belies his early dreams of becoming a jockey, Fanie Bronkhorst grew up in a racing family in Kathu, the iron-ore capital of the Northern Cape Province.
“My family were all involved in racing and my father and grandfather owned horses that raced in Kimberley and Bloemfontein. And just after finishing school in the year 2000 I worked with the late Peter Miller for a year as a stable employee. I originally wanted to be a jockey, but grew too big, and have wanted to train since a young age.”
The competitive Fanie was also a promising talent on the rugby fields – turning out for Tukkies as a centre and fullback before injuries put paid to that passion.
He then drifted away from racing for a while as his company Sonador Building Projects took up his time after its founding in 2006. A great stress-antidote for the modern business word, he continued to pursue his love for horses, training and riding endurance horses – a discipline in which he holds Springbok colours.
While he has made a storming start, Fanie is restricted to an owner-trainer licence until the end of this season. That means he can only train his own horses.
He currently has one barn at Randjesfontein, where he houses his 25 charges.
“Only six of the 25 are older horses, so I will be taking things slowly. When I can open my doors to outside owners at end July, I hope to expand. There is only one way to run a racing stable, and that is on a business basis. I have been very fortunate to have learnt from the best in the game!” he smiles.
Away from racing, family man Fanie is married to Dezrè. They have two children in Kayla (9) and Reghardt (7).
Let’s hope we get to see the perpetual motion machine Running Brave taking on the big guns in the Cape Met on 30 January. In this age, horseracing desperately needs more fairytales!