Sands Of Time: February 1994

Horse Racing History - 20 Years Ago


Mauritzfontein Stud Silks

Mauritzfontein Stud

The average price at Goodwood, venue for the first yearling sale of the season, increases by 10% – following the world-wide trend of a recovery in bloodstock prices. Optimism must be held in check, though, as the 1994 average of R17.700 is merely on par with that of 1992 and still well below 1991 and 1990 averages. Highest price at the sales is R72.000 for the Northern Guest colt Guest Rider consigned by Gavin Schafer of Mauritzfontein Stud.

Stipendiary stewards withdraw two runners at Gosforth Park, when their trainer John Garth is found administering, orally, an unknown substance to these horses while they are in the security area.

Liloy, race horse


Michael Roberts shines in the Gr1 Cape Derby at Kenilworth, when he gets 3/1 favourite Comareen home by a length in a fast run race over 2000m. Crystal’s Garter finishes second, ahead of Rhode Island and Storm Champ. Other fancied runners, Jewel of Asia and Millard-trained Gilgamesh, run fifth and sixth. The winner is from the first South African crop of French Gr2 winner Liloy, who had several topclass winners here while standing in Argentina (Potomac, Prontisimo, Ecurie). Comareen, a R170.000 National Sales yearling, is out of Irish mare Stracomer Queen, who ran third in the Irish Oaks during her racing career.

Comareen, Cape of Good Hope Derby 1994

Comareen (M. Roberts gallops home strongly to win the Cape of Good Hope Derby Futurity Stakes, at Kenilworth

February 6 – 12

Princess Anne, horse racing

Princess Anne

The midweek meeting at Newmarket is abandoned due to a waterlogged track, this after distances of races over 1200m and 1400m had to be shortened by 50m last week for the same reason.

In the UK and Ireland trainers start thinking seriously about the Grand National again. This includes jockey John White, winner of last year’s race that never was. White retired after his disastrous “win”, and started training in Ireland. He stages a comeback to renew the partnership with Esha Nes the horse he rode last year. Meanwhile, the gateman who failed to recognise Princess Anne at Royal Ascot last year and barred her way to the Royal enclosure, is considering his application for the vacancy of flagman for the National. If you can stop the Princess Royal, he believes, halting the National field will be no problem.

Grand National - John White & Esha Ness 1993

Grand National – John White & Esha Ness

The Transvaal autumn season gets underway with the running of the R150.000 Keith Hepburn Stakes. The Favourite Dominof comes from way off the pace to get up from Bluff and Full of Gold. The Gr2 race is run in pouring rain and the stewards cancel the remainder of the carded races for reasons of safety. Prior to the main race, three-year-olds contest the Gr2 Dingaans over a mile. The favourite wins here, too, when El Gran Senor filly Kundalini gets the better of Coastal’s son Rusty Pelican and Circus Gate.

Kundalini, Dingaans Turffontein 1994

Kundalini (USA) (J. Geroudis) gets the better of Rusty Pelican (M. Mienie) in the Jensen Electronics Dingaans at Turffontein

At Clairwood, front running gelding Milkman creams the opposition for the third time in his last four starts, a perfect illustration of the the old adage that you can’t give start to a front runner who doesn’t stop.

And in Cape Town the Dancing Champ filly Popular Girl proves herself to be anything but that when she wins the Gr3 Southern Cross Stakes in howling wind at tote-odds of 24/1. On the same day, and in the same blustry conditions, two track records are broken for the far bend mile. First the maiden Birthday Belle runs the mile in 1m 36.5sec to better the previous best time, then one race later Blushing Magic covers the same distance in 1m 36.0sec. Several racegoers are heard to demand that specimens are taken from the course clock, but reliable handtimes confirm the electronic times. The suspicion lingers that the stalls are not positioned where they should be, or alternatively that they weren’t in the good old days when the records were first set.

Popular Girl, Southern Cross Stakes 1994

Popular Girl (F. Anthony) bursts from the field to win the Southern Cross Stakes over 1000m Milnerton.

February 13 – 19

It’s frontpage news when the inter-provincial liaison committee on horse racing and betting makes a recommendation to provincial Exco’s that sports betting should be introduced from April 1st. The recommendation includes that from the same date the tax on bookmaking and Tote wins should be reduced from 12% to 6%. The liaison committee acts on a majority decision (the Cape delegation dissents).

The meeting scheduled for Newmarket has to be abandoned for the second time in two weeks because of heavy going. The Club records 30mm of rain on the morning of the meeting.

Sixteen candidates are nominated for just nine positions on the new W-Cape Racing Board of Stewards. An election will be held to determine who’ll get on.

Elliodor filly Star Award continues her winning ways in the Gr3 Fillies & Mares Stakes at Gosforth Park, beating stablemate Jewelled Wings by just under a length. This is Star Award’s fifth win from eight starts.

Star Award, Racehorse

Mr and Mrs J de Breedt’s Star Award

February 20 – 26

At a black-tie ANC fundraiser held in the Steward’s quarters at Kenilworth racecourse (how times are changing in the once hallowed halls), Thabo Mbeki and Trevor Manuel deliver speeches elaborating on the future of gambling in the new South Africa.
Top prices paid at the accompanying auction of “no guarantee” stallion services are R16.000 for Northern Guest and Model Man, and R15.000 for Elliodor.

Apprentice Michael de Beer is selected by the Jockey Club to represent South Africa at an international meeting on Macao in May. De Beer, indentured to trainer Gary Alexander, has so far ridden 26 winners. Mounts for two big apprentice events at the meeting will be allocated by ballot.

Peter Patterson is appointed chief stipe for the Eastern Province. He moves to his new location from the Transvaal.

Hurdle racing on artificial surfaces in the UK is cancelled for the remainder of the season when 6yo gelding War Beat dies after a heavy fall at the last hurdle at Lingfield. War Beat is the thirteenth “artificial surface” hurdling casualty in two months, twice as many as in the previous season.

Madagascar MapSouth African investors are invited to assist in a project to reintroduce racing in Madagascar. It is expected that about 300 horses will be required each year on the island, where racing is set to take place at a US-style sandtrack at Bevelala, Antanarivo. Thirty-six Sunday meetings are planned for the first season, set to commence in mid-June 1994. Madagascans will be able to bet only on Totes, as bookmakers are outlawed both on and off course.

Jackpot and Pick Six couplings are re-introduced in the W-Cape, as “a step towards the uniformity of Totalisator Rules on a national basis”. The question is, will Natal and the Transvaal Totes fall in line?

1993 Gilbeys winner and Sprinter of the Year Taban comes with a late run to take the R350.000 Gr1 Computaform Sprint, run over 1000m at Gosforth Park. The black champion, easy to back at 7/1 in this WFA race, catches Cape challenger Best Mate on the line, with fillies Fulfillment and long-time leader Hot Seven next best. Taban now has won 10 of his 23 races, for earnings of some R800.000.

Taban, Computaform Sprint

A Flying Taban (MJ Odendaal, No 13) gets up to snatch victory from Best Mate (F. Macaskill) in the Computaform Sprint

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