The KwaZulu-Natal Owners and Trainers Awards for the 2007/2008 racing season were held at a Dinner Dance occasion at Greyville after the day-night meeting on Saturday.
The evening was co-hosted by Graeme Hawkins and James Goodman and was well attended by trainers, owners and other members of the racing fraternity.
David Thiselton writes that the Horse of the Year was awarded to Imbongi, who was trained by the Trainer of the Year, Mike de Kock, and bred by the Breeder of the Year, Summerhill Stud. Imbongi’s second stint in KZN followed his surprise win in the Grade 2 Gauteng Guineas but he then proved himself a top class horse, Mike de Kock having said during the season that the Russian Revival chestnut improved tremendously with gelding.
He won the Grade 2 KZN Guineas in brilliant fashion after being squeezed not much more than 100m from home and then became the first three-year-old of the season to beat older horses when landing the Grade 2 Drill Hall Stakes over 1 400m against a star-studded field that included the likes of Pocket Power.
He then beat Pocket Power again when finishing second to Dancer’s Daughter in the Grade I Gold Challenge over 1600m at Clairwood, a race that was billed “the Race of the Season”.
Imbongi was also crowned Champion three-year-old colt, while his groom, Goodman Bhuku, was named Groom of The Year.
The announcement of the Sean Tarry-trained Wendywood as the Champion three-year-old filly was accompanied by some sadness as the Grade I Woolavington winner died of colic recently after her amazing career of just three runs, culminating in a respectable effort in the Vodacom Durban July. Assistant trainer, Deshone Steyn, received the award on Sean Tarry’s behalf. |
Champion two-year-old filly went to the Grade I Thekwini Fillies Stakes winner, the Duncan Howells-trained Gypsy’s Warning, and Champion two-year-old colt went to the Grade I Premier’s Champion Stakes winner, the Mike de Kock-trained Rocks Off.
Mike De Kock also scooped both the Champion Older Horse and Champion Stayer awards, with Canon Gold Cup winner Thundering Star, and the Champion Sprinter Award with SA Fillies Sprint winner, Rat Burana.
The Mike Miller-trained Garden Province winner, Outcome, won the Champion Older Female award.
Mike de Kock’s Award for Champion Trainer was, unbeknown to many, a close shave as he only had a single winner more than the perennial winner of the award, Dennis Drier, on KZN racetracks.
Brandon Lerena was Champion Apprentice for the third year running while Champion jockey went to the evergreen Robbie Hill.
Markus Jooste was Champion owner while Moga Pillay won the Anita Akal Award, which honours those who go beyond their call of duty in serving the horseracing industry.
Mike de Kock’s many awards were received by his assistant John Buckler, as the maestro trainer is currently in the US preparing Eagle Mountain for the Breeders’ Cup.