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Gav’s Firing On All Cylinders

Four winners on Friday - including the Guineas

Eight-times East Cape champion trainer Gavin Smith has bounced back from a tough 2020 in fighting style.

The Hollywoodbets-sponsored conditioner holds an SA National log top ten position and saddled four of the eight winners on last Friday’s Fairview card. His strikes included the progressive East Cape Guineas winner, who could be headed for the forthcoming SA Champions Season on the East Coast.

Winning his sixth race on the trot, the Summerhill-bred Jaeger Moon announced his arrival in the big league in the fashion of a horse gradually going places, when fighting right back under regular pilot Marco van Rensburg to beat quality Cape raiders Northern Song and Salvator Mundi.

Jaeger Moon (far side) holds off Cape raider Northern Song to win the Guineas (Pic – Pauline Herman)

“We really don’t know how good Jaeger Moon is as every time we ask, he steps up to the plate. I thought the way he handled the challenge on Friday showed genuine heart and courage. It’s not easy for a front-runner on the long turf straight to rally and come back like he did. Those Cape horses are decent so we are very encouraged by this victory. And well done to Marco (Van Rensburg) on a great ride,” the 54 year old Gavin Smith told the Sporting Post as he reflected on his second consecutive East Cape Guineas success.

Former Gauteng-based owners Frank and Joyce Burggraaf, who return to Saudi Arabia on Good Friday, were on course to enjoy their Capetown Noir colt’s first stakes win.

“I’m so glad the timing panned out well for Frank and Joyce. Frank works in Saudi and they spend six months there and six months here. Covid has naturally played a role in their routine being out of order, but they have bought a home on the Port Elizabeth beachfront and are now true PE owners!”

Gavin selected the R140 000 ticket Jaeger Moon from the Summerhill Ready To Run draft in 2019.

“I have been lucky with the Summerhill horses. And I just liked the way he used himself in his gallop. He was a bit tall and lanky, and needed the time. The Burggraaf’s patience has reaped rich rewards. We would have half the horse today if we had pushed him too early. And he continues to mature. He is exciting,” adds the veteran.

On to the subject of where to from here for Jaeger Moon, Gavin says that he will be monitored in th next few weeks and consideration given to taking him up to KZN for an SA Champions Season feature.

Gavin mentioned the Querari filly Sugar Gum, who registered her 4th win from 9 starts a few weeks ago, and the uber consistent Gimmethegreenlight colt Stranger Danger as two other 3yo’s worth noting amongst a promising crop.

Unlike some of his colleagues, Gavin doesn’t enjoy the direct support of the big breeders with their ample stock of well-bred horses.

“Nothing is easy in racing. Covid knocked the stuffing out of all of us. But the young horses are the future. We have buckled down and worked hard. That’s included going to the sales and trying to buy well. We have come back and put the horses together, and thanks to our staunch patrons and loyal staff, it’s so far, so good!”

Gavin says that the key to his positive start to 2021 has been the performances of his younger horses.

The man who turns 55 three days after the 2021 Vodacom Durban July has formed a powerful team in his 26 years.

Gavin Smith – happy with the season so far! (Pic – Pauline Herman)

“I have been lucky, always having great people around me. My wife Marilyn is my rock and a huge factor in our success. Without a happy home life, work is not easy. I am very fortunate. My son Dean has developed into a really top-class assistant. Then my ‘smaller’ older brother Andrew, a lecturer at UPE, also lends a hand and is very capable in the yard. Stalwarts Victor and Jarryd have been with me forever. They are the mainstay of the team. In a racing yard, staffing is as important as quality horses!”

The Covid attrition factor has meant that he is down to 85 horses.

“As I said earlier, we were all impacted upon. But as a team we resolved to remain competitive and up our game. Hard work and luck help, too! And we are fortunate to enjoy the backing of the country’s leading racing sponsor in Hollywoodbets!”

We asked about his daughter Abbi, and her Met winning husband JP van der Merwe’s wellbeing in Singapore.

Happy in Singapore – Gavin’s daughter Abbi and husband JP

“They haven’t visited South Africa for some time as the lockdown protocols would prevent them from returning. But they have settled well and love Singapore. JP rode a double last week at Kranji and has adapted well. They have applied for residency there. It really has been a happy experience for them and they make a great couple,” adds the proud Dad and Father-in-law.

The next Fairview racemeeting is on Good Friday – and it probably wouldn’t be happening if it was Gavin Smith’s call.

The man whose Dad Andy was a legend in the region says that he recalls a time when the Eastern Cape would not race on the important day on the Christian calendar.

“It was quite a contentious issue for some years and stakeholders were given an opportunity to stand down if they chose to. In the 21st century the commercial demands to race 364 days a year, coupled with a more relaxed approach makes it a regular slot on the programme. We also have to respect the reality that the world also has a diversity of different religions,” he suggested.

Include the Gavin Smith runners in all of your bets. The powerful team’s on fire!

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3 comments on “Gav’s Firing On All Cylinders

  1. Dennis says:

    Top team ????????

  2. Nico Botha says:

    Realy a good team to be associated with.

  3. Morne Struwig says:

    Proud member of the GSR family

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