Duncan’s Singing For His Supper!

Cracking return to form for veteran

Fairview veteran conditioner Duncan McKenzie was full of praise for the professionalism of former SA Champion jockey Lyle Hewitson. The young rider outmanouvered his opposition tactically to score a surprise victory aboard 20-1 shot Thomas Tucker in the WSB Poly Challenge 1600 at Fairview on Friday.

McKenzie celebrated his 62nd birthday on Wednesday, and the victory was probably the best present he could have hoped for.

“Lyle (Hewitson) came to me with my horse’s finishing times. What jockey does that? That gave me confidence from a true professional – he had a plan and he rode a perfect race,” said an elated ‘Duncs’ McKenzie after his 6yo son of Eightfold Path had made every inch of the running in a race that the young rider rode them to sleep.

Lyle Hewitson drives Thomas Tucker out as Callan Murray challenges strongly on Earth Hour (Pic – Pauline Herman)

While Juan Nel and the connections of the runner-up Earth Hour did enough to bank a well-deserved R50 000 WSB Challenge series bonus for the horse that ran in all three legs and accumulated the most points, it was the McKenzie yard who were the big winners on the afternoon.

“My yard had a virus. We got down and depressed – you know how it goes. But the last week their coats were shiny and they turned for the better. I am so thankful,” said McKenzie after Thomas Tucker had kept rolling to beat the consistent Earth Hour (4-1) by a half length in a time of 95,79 secs.

“He lost his way a bit on the grass. But today Thomas Tucker was idling out front and was using up no juice at all,” said McKenzie.

Earth Hour moved up menacingly, and actually looked a winner late in proceedings – but was no match for the near pitch black leader who kept rolling under a textbook thinking man’s ride.

Bred by the now defunct Hartley SA, Thomas Tucker is a son of Giant’s Causeway stallion Eightfold Path and is the second foal of the twice-winning Victory Moon mare Dancewiththestars.

A winner of 5 races with 9 places from 24 starts and stakes of R219 400, Thomas Tucker was a R40 000 2018 Ready To Run Sale graduate.

Trainer Zietsman Oosthuizen was in fine form with a four-timer on the day.

Lyle Hewitson and Warren Kennedy shared riding honours with a treble apiece.

But the afternoon really belonged to the genuine racing man, Duncan McKenzie.

While most people are introduced to racing by their father or grandfather, Duncan’s biggest influence came via his dam line.

“My dad came from Rhodesia and was involved in owning a couple of horses. But it’s more my mom’s side of the family that are the horsey people.”

His mother was a Rugg and had 7 brothers who were all jockeys.

“We were a big racing family. You can trace us all the way back to 1934 when my uncle Albert (Allie) Rugg won the July Handicap at the age of 14 on a horse for Mr Jackie Angles called Sun Tor. He was at the top of his game when he was killed at Gosforth Park three years later. It was called the Benoni Turf Club in those days. He was riding a horse called Southern Slave, a horse fell in front of him and he went down over it. He went into a coma and never came out. My mom still had the skull cap and colours he was killed in. My mom was also involved in racing and worked for one of the first woman trainers in the country, Hilda Knaupp. It’s in the genes I think!” he told the Sporting Post some years ago.

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