(Photo : Gold Circle)

“Craig Eudey, Thandolwami and the Vodacom Durban July”

When Thandolwami lines up at the start of the 2009 Vodacom Durban July on Saturday, a significant achievement will be recorded against the name of his trainer Craig Eudey, as the four-year-old chestnut is from Craig Eudey’s first crop of horses as a trainer.

David Thiselton writes that Craig Eudey, who is based at Summerveld and was assistant to Alistair Gordon for some 26 years, chose the Summerhill-bred Thandolwami at the National Yearling Sales.

“I especially liked the way he walked,” he recalled.

The Woodborough gelding was the first horse he ever bought from the country’s top auction.

He initially thought Thandolwami would be a precocious sort, but the horse gets better and better as he gets older.

“When he won over 1200m as a two-year-old it was probably, in retrospect, only because he had more ability than the rest,” said Craig Eudey.

Carrie Radford, who is the yard assistant, has played a big part in Thandolwami’s success, as he had been a very headstrong and fractious sort as a youngster.

Jeff Lloyd won on him as a two-year-old and reckoned that without the hard work Carrie had put in to quieten him down he would have ended up a loony,” said Eudey. “We wouldn’t have had a horse without her patience.”

Carrie Radford spent many hours working the horse around the turn. This has the affect of settling a horse as when some see a straight course ahead of them they tend to want to tear away.

Thandolwami’s owners, James Roberts, Louis Bernhardi, Neil Butcher, George Griesel, Max McConnell, Stuart McGregor and Craig Eudey himself, are all having their first July runner with the exception of Stuart McGregor. He owned Gleaming Sky, who ran ninth in the 1998 July.

All of the connections were at the July final field and draw ceremony last Thursday.

“It was nerve-wracking because with just five horses left we hadn’t come out of the hat and draws 19 and 20 still hadn’t been allocated,” said Eudey.

As it happened he was thrilled with Thandolwami’s draw of seven.

The horse is known for his strong finishing run so being able to relax from early on, as he should be able to do from that draw, is the best scenario for him.

This is the first time the six-time winner has cracked a good draw in a big race.

His best achievements to date have been a narrow second to Likeithot in the Grade 2 November Handicap over 1600m, and third behind Smart Banker and Aluminium in the Grade 1 Summer Cup, both races having taken place at Turffontein from draws 15 and 16 respectively.

Thandolwami’s worst trait at the races is that he takes a while to get going in the straight and his flying finishes have proven to have come just a touch too late in top company, although he did record the fastest 400m to finish time against the top miler Imbongi in last season’s KZN Guineas.

“When he does decide to accelerate there are not too many who can go with him. There will have been bigger upsets than Thandolwami winning the July.”

Thandolwami was looking in very good condition after a light canter at Summerveld on Sunday.

The new yard that Craig Eudey has recently moved to has indoor stables and they have thus not had to blanket him. There is no evidence of winter in his shiny coat.

At 15-3 hands, Thandolwami, has matured into a straight forward sort of a horse personality wise.

“Thandolwami has a good temperament and is kind in nature, not nasty at all,” said Carrie Radford. “He is playful and, like most better horses, is proud of himself. He can lead or follow, but if he sees a horse ahead of him on the training tracks he wants to catch it. He takes his big heart to the races and will always try his hardest to win.”