20 Years Ago: Sands Of Time – April 1991

APRIL 1991


31 – 6

A full page photograph of Northern Guest and Mick Goss grace the pages of Style magazine’s April issue. The article on Summerhill boss Goss is headed “Turning out champions”.

Rex Kirton is elected as the chairman of the new committee of stewards at the Cape Turf Club.

Turffontein hosts a charity dinner for the Transvaal OTA’s Benevolent Fund. Some R130.000 is raised, just over a third of the target figure of R350.000. Other events planned are a golf-day and a wine auction.

PE racing takes the lead in South Africa by eliminating couplings when win-bets are taken on the Tote. Although PE has good reason to take this measure (too few trainers with too many horses too often in one race), the coupling rule clearly is a horribly outmoded one (just think of what the original reason for the introduction of couplings was!), and deserves to buried in all racing centres where common sense prevails. Which means that it will probably take some time before couplings disappear in the rest of the country.

Millard-trained Mellifluous is supplemented to run in the Adminstrators Topsport Bloodline Classic at a fee of R50.000, the regulation 10% of the added stake.
But the 1800m race produces an upset, outsiders filling the first four places. Last Watch, trained by James Goodman, wins this second leg of the Bloodline Triple Crown. Mellifluous runs unplaced. The first four home started from the four inside stalls, giving an indication of the importance of the draw on the day.
Last Watch, a R40.000 National Sale yearling consigned by Summerhill, was ‘just’ a Graduation winner prior to the Gr1 Classic. Lightly raced, he’d had his early preparation by Bert Abercrombie in the Cape.

In the Cape, Ralph Rixon is elected chairman of the newly formed Cape Trainer’s Association.

7 – 13

Trainer Roy Magner is warned off, after being found guilty for the third time of being the person responsible for the care of a horse which tests ‘positive’. The culprit this time was the horse Super Sussex, whose sample contains traces of Prednisolone. Trainer Magner appeals against the sentence.
Another Transvaal trainer, Mike de Kock, is fined R1000 for a rather unusual offense, described as “conduct unbecoming of a trainer” (wonder what is becoming?). His horse Mollify had faulty equipment when racing at the Vaal.
Robbie Sage, trainer of 1990 OK Gold Bowl winner Honey Chunk, calls it a day and hands in his trainer’s badge. “The work’s hard and the rewards are not as great as one would expect”, he says.

Mick Goss and Peter Fenix are voted onto the TBA Council, which now consists of Lowell Price (chairman), Henry Doms (vice), and messrs. Allem, Fenix, Goss, Koster and Scott.

The OFS Horseracing Development Fund, in conjuction with the Vaal Turf Club, donates R50.000 to the National Thoroughbred Trust.

Zandvliet-bred Fast Gun shows he’s Best in the West, when scoring a runaway victory in the Bloodline Million. Nothing can go with this son of Mexico in the last 200m, and owner Makins describes the colt’s victory as “a piece of old takkie”. Favourite Fluent Stride, wearing blinkers for the first time, runs unplaced. The maiden Secret Ring takes second place.
The Topsport Bloodline Million is described by Jeff Zerbst in The Star as “a Graduation Plate disguised as a Big Feature by smooth-talking men in maroon blazers”.

Noel Scholefield takes over the Podlas-string, previously in the care of David Lilley for Peter Kannemeyer. The change-over is an amicable one, and Scholefield is expected to take out his own licence soon. During the following week Podlas, assisted by stable jockey Garth Puller, selects a large number of yearlings, and becomes the leading individual buyer at the National Sales.

14 – 20

Dave Mollet, in an editorial in the Sunday Times, describes the SA Racehorse as “a magazine that is an absolute must for anyone interested in the thoroughbred industry”. In the same article Mollet picks Argentinian-bred Homero to win the SA Derby.

The National Sales, at which a record 32 first-season sires make their South African debut, takes a dip. The three-day sale, held from Monday to Wednesday, is down in aggregate, average and median price.
There is money, though, for several outstanding individuals. Trainer Millard pays R320.000 for a half-brother by Russian Fox to Bluffing, Delta Bloodstock goes to R420.000 for a Foveros filly out of Devon Air, and Willie Pieters secures a son of Foveros out of A Thousand Stars for the top price of R425.000.
There are indications that Natal yearlings are easier to sell than Cape-bred yearlings, for which the Natal Premium scheme appears to deserve credit.

In the TBA’s catalogues Prince Florimund and Foveros are still both listed as “Horse of the Year in South Africa in 1981”. Which goes to show that you shouldn’t believe everything the TBA publishes, and certainly not where it concerns sires. Prince Florimund’s owner Tim Miller has the trophy on his mantle-piece, whatever buyers may be led to think.

Robbie Sham returns from a 3-month lay-off (he was injured in a fall during the Cape season) and wins the Pointsettia Stakes on Crescent Fields, showing that he’s lost none of the old magic.
Bertie Hayden wins the annual Veteran Jockeys race at Greyville, aboard three-year-old gelding Federal Highway. This after surviving an objection by the second horse. It is a fairytale farewell for Hayden, whose last ride this is before taking up a career in training.

21 – 27

Cape bookmakers take no chances, so they say, but even so betting for the Administrator’s Champion Stakes at Cape Tattersalls looks decidedly tightfisted. According to the Cape Times, betting at Cape Tattersalls is 15/10 St Just, 5/2 Roland’s Song and 7/2 Northern Guest – a bit short for the stallion, who has never raced before.
Roland’s Song wins the R600.000 race, breaking the 2000m course record at Turffontein in the process, after Millard’s imported colt Budapest set a red-hot pace. The first prize of R360.000 brings the filly’s earnings to one and three quarter million Rand. Nice return on the R20.000 paid for her as a yearling.
The SA Derby, run on the same day, also ends in a new record time. Alec Laird’s Sacred Jungle upsets favourite Homero, who can do no better than fourth.

Clairwood announces a new competition for on-course punters, to run from May to August. The competition carries close on R20.000 total prize money.

Jockey Club chairman Ronnie Napier is allocated time to give racing a plug in “Special Report”, early one morning on Radio South Africa.

Cape Breeders reflect on the disappointing performance of Cape-breds at the National Sale. According to Cape Breeder Association’s chairman Maisel, the premium funds offered by other provinces are taking their toll.

Northern Dancer’s son Rakeen makes a winning South African debut, and in PE Stanley Greeff becomes the first trainer “down-under” to reach a million Rand in stakes for the season.

The much awaited clash between Divine Act and Brainteaser does not materialise when the starter calls a false start after the gates open before all horses are ready. Divine Act gallops most of the course and is withdrawn. Son Of A Champ beats Rebel’s Reward in the re-run, with Brainteaser third. The Jockey Club holds an inquiry to determine whether the starter was justified in his actions, which appeared to upset many racegoers on the day.


next: May 1991

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