Wally Brits and Roy Magner at the 2007 Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale
(Photo : Heather Morkel)
SUMMERHILL BREEZE-UP GALLOPS
16 OCTOBER 2009
The Racing Association’s “Owner Of The Month”, Wally Brits, had an uncommonly good September so writes Mike Moon.
Not only did his horse, Phunyuka, take the 1450m R600,000 Emerald Cup last Saturday, but his pigeon, The Chief, won him a Nissan bakkie when it flew to victory in a big race from Cradock to Joburg – the second year in succession that he’s scooped the vehicle prize.
The affable Wally is well known for his twin racing passions of horses and pigeons.
Phunyuka’s win at the Vaal was hugely satisfying. Not only was it the owner’s third Grade 2 success, it also affirmed his judgment over many years of astute buying, breeding and dedication to carefully selected thoroughbred families.
Wally raced Phunyuka’s dam Catch Me (by Argosy), who, from just a handful of races, won once and was second in top company before suffering serious injury. Going against advice that the filly be put down, Wally nursed her back to health.
Although he was interested in the family, it was the two-year-old Phunyuka’s sale breeze-up gallop in heavy going at Summerhill that turned Wally’s head. “All the other horses were floundering in the mud, heads going up and down, but his head stayed rock steady; he ploughed through like a truck. I had to buy him.”
That sharp observation had its reward on Saturday when the gelding, after losing position from a handy draw in blistering early pace, powered through the worst of the kickback and some particularly soft sand to mow down the strong field in the straight.
Wally now also owns Catch Me’s two subsequent foals – Bambelela (by Russian Revival), who won in Durban recently, and Baleka (by Labeeb), an unraced three-year-old that Wally says is “the best of the lot”.
Phunyuka will be given a break from the sand, where he has a lofty merit rating, for a campaign on the turf, where the rating is generous.
There seems no reason he won’t do well on grass. The fitting of blinkers has been a key factor in him picking up a gear or three.
What is racing man Wally Brits’ next target?
“I haven’t won a Grade 1 yet. But it’s coming, don’t worry,” he says. You wouldn’t bet against it.