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Racehorse Trainers



Hong Kong - Holy Mac, who beat Prince Of Sunshine over 1650m at Sha Tin last week, gave South African trainer David Ferraris his 300th win in Hong Kong. Mid-division under jockey Neil Callan, Holy Mac squeezed between pacemaker Carry The Zeal and favourite Crimson Heart to lead 200m from the wire and won by 1.25 lengths.




gai waterhouse
gai waterhouse

Gai Waterhouse / Maggie Alderson (p)


mick goss
mick goss

Mick Goss

Summerhill CEOAbout sixteen years ago, I received a plaintive phonecall from a young man seeking a position on a stud farm. That’s not unusual. The call was strange though, because it came from a French-speaking person seeking employment in an English-speaking world, and it was remarkable for the fact that here was a young man qualified as both an accountant and a solicitor, looking for work at the beginning of his career in the bloodstock world, and he was happy to work for nothing. My immediate thought was that he was either mad or deeply dedicated to the idea of working with horses, and the longer the conversation endured, the more convinced I was that it was the latter. Laurent Benoit arrived in the dead of the 1997 winter for a six month stint in our broodmare division, and it was evident within a couple of months that at his price, he constituted a bargain. So much so that we quickly put him on some sort of subsistence allowance. Buoyed by this, he offered to supplement his services by assisting in the dark hours before work starts in the normal world, with the riding out of the Ready To Run string, at which he proved to be just as adept. We were not alone in our disappointment at his departure at the end of the season: there were more than a few tender young hearts that lamented his leaving, and longed for the fact that one day, “the piper” may return.

A year later, I got the call reminding me that the first time we’d got him “cheap”, that he was now offering his services at a price, but if necessary, he would repeat his toil for the love of it all. We didn’t need any convincing and took him on, this time for an extended stay of more than a year, by which time he was shaping up as a potential CEO of the business. Benoit had other ideas: his head and his training said “law or accounting”, his heart said “horses”, and he followed his heart, headlong into the bloodstock agency business. This coincided with the maturity and the winding up of thirty-seven partnerships we had entered into during the heady tax-driven days of the plantations, the aeroplane and the film schemes, which meant the dispersal of the vast bulk of the broodmare stock on Summerhill. It so happened that we were part-owners at the time of an apparently talented two-year-old daughter of Golden Thatch, who’d won her debut race in good style. It wasn’t so much the fact that she’d won, it was the way she’d won that attracted the attention of a bevy of investors, and the dispersal sale paralleled with the emergence in her pedigree of a new star in the Australian stallion firmament, Danehill.

The sense of enterprise that has made Laurent Benoit one of the world’s most successful bloodstockers was already burning inside him, and he was quick to assemble a string of international players to put their hands up for Lady Broadhurst when she entered the tented arena in our stallion paddocks. On the other side of the contest, we’d aroused the interest of John Messara, whose Arrowfield Stud was the home of Danehill, and needed little more to get him into the fray. In the end, the French connection prevailed, the filly hammered down to a partnership of Lady Chrissy O’Reilly and Charl Henri de Moussac’s Haras du Mezeray at R1million, a record for a horse in training that was to endure for more than a decade. In the event, Broadhurst Agency was born, its early fame enhanced when Lady Broadhurst took out her next five in a row, two of which at Group level. Suddenly, there was international and local interest at around R3million, and for all intents and purposes, Benoit’s new career was on fire.

It’s always been a source of pride to us to see graduates of Summerhill make a success of their lives in other realms, none more so than this young man whom I’ve seen more than a few times occupying lifts with the Coolmore team, and on other occasions, sharing his counsel with the modern day “Napoleon”, Andre Fabre. Small wonder then that M. Benoit is at the centre of the “Aussies in France” initiative announced in the international press Wednesday, a racing club whose interests in Australia will be placed in the charge of that country’s favourite racing daughter, Gai Waterhouse.

The Aussies In France syndicate was originally launched by the Broadhurst Agency with the support of ARQANA Racing Club to promote Australian ownership of racehorses in France under the care of trainer Alain de Royer Dupre. The additional goal of the syndicate is to simultaneously shape future G1 Melbourne Cup prospects who could race with distinction in Australia after their careers in France.

“We are truly delighted and honored to welcome Gai Waterhouse at the heart of our syndicate,” said Benoit. “Her record is particularly eloquent and the recent performances of Fiorente (Ire) in the G1 Melbourne Cup last year and in the G1 Australian Cup just a few days ago show once again her ability to shape and bring out European horses at the highest level. ‘Aussies in France’ Racing Club is proud to have two of the best trainers in both hemispheres.”

Waterhouse has collected over 110 Group 1 victories in Australia.

“I am thrilled to have been chosen as the trainer for this exciting and innovative new venture, the ‘Aussies in France’ Racing Club,” confirmed Waterhouse. “I have had a great deal of success with horses imported from Europe, with the likes of Fiorente (Ire), Julienas (Ire), Glencadam Gold (Ire) and The Offer (Ire) winning time- honored Classics such as the Melbourne Cup and the Australian Cup. I look forward to sharing in the joys and success of racing horses with all of the shareholders involved.”




johnny murtagh
johnny murtagh

Johnny Murtagh / RTE (p)


Johnny Murtagh has called time on his illustrious riding career to concentrate on his training business.

Murtagh took out his trainer’s licence last May and continued to ride with great success, winning four Gr.1 races, including the Gr.1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes aboard Novellist (Monsun), on whom he was a late substitute for William Buick. He also trained and rode Royal Diamond (King’s Best) to victory in the Gr.3 British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot.

Murtagh commented: “The training side of things is getting bigger all the time and I wasn’t happy giving the riding 50% and the training 50%. It’s the right time to call it a day with the riding and put everything into the training side of things.”

The 43-year-old was Irish champion rider five times and was renowned as a jockey for the big occasion. He rode over 100 Gr.1 winners and was successful in each of the five Irish Classics, winning the Irish Derby four times and the Irish Oaks on six occasions, including last year aboard the Alain de Royer-Dupre-trained Chicquita (Montjeu).

Murtagh also rode three winners of the Derby at Epsom aboard Sinndar (2000; by Grand Lodge), High Chaparral (2002; by Sadler’s Wells) and Motivator (2005; Montjeu), and was successful in the 2,000 Guineas twice aboard Rock Of Gibraltar (2002; Danehill) and Henrythenavigator (2008; Kingmambo). The jockey had an excellent record at Royal Ascot, taking the leading rider award at the summer showpiece meeting for a fifth time last year.

Extract from European Bloodstock News




Mike de Kock
Mike de Kock

Mike de Kock / TB News (p)

“Imagine the heights we could reach if we were allowed to export our bloodstock within reasonable times, in line with the rest of the racing world” - Mike de Kock

Following Thursday night’s Dubai World Cup Carnival meeting at Meydan, South African trainer Mike de Kock reflected with great joy and an equal measure of frustration.

De Kock praised South African breeders for producing three high-class winners at a single international meeting and urged the racing industry at large to assist in the lifting of export protocol measures that prevent South Africa from shipping bloodstock directly to the various racing jurisdictions abroad.

Existing export restrictions stipulate that horses shipped from South Africa have to spend a potential health-threatening 147 days en-route to Dubai and elsewhere.

This includes 40 days in Mauritius where they are locked in their stables from 4pm to 8.30am with only an early morning feed and then a 50-day residency period. This is followed by required spell of quarantine in the UK where severe climate changes have to be dealt with.

De Kock opined: “Our results at this Dubai meeting were spectacular. If the racing world doesn’t wake up after this I don’t know what it will take to get them behind us. Our stud farms breed high-quality bloodstock at the most affordable prices. They’re able to hold their own anywhere in the world - we’ve proven that time and again and our results get better every year.

“On Thursday night three South African-bred runners won in top company at the world’s richest racing extravaganza, proving their class and versatility. Variety Club, our dual Horse Of The Year, franked his form with an easy Grade 3 win first time out on foreign soil and on a new racing surface. Vercingetorix, an unbeaten Grade 1 winner in South Africa, stepped out winning after his long travels and Sanshaawes underlined the strength of our form with an easy victory on the all-weather track.”

“Despite having proven ourselves over and over on the world stage, the South African racing industry is severely hampered from competing on equal terms with the rest of the world. We don’t have many friends and there is no help forthcoming. There’s a group of influential decision-makers purposefully standing in our way. We’re held back by opinion, not by science and it’s patently wrong!”

He added: “Imagine the heights we could reach if we were allowed to export our bloodstock within reasonable times, in line with the rest of the racing world. As it stands, our ability to compete is limited. Should the power players not be helping us? We’re stuck. Where are the individuals with the courage to open doors for us?”

Extracts from Tab News




Sir Henry Cecil memorial at Ely Cathedral
Sir Henry Cecil memorial at Ely Cathedral

English racing’s cognoscenti gathered at Ely Cathedral to pay tribute to Sir Henry Cecil

(Photo : Cambridge News)


11 January 1943 - 11 June 2013

Mick Goss - Summerhill CEO
Mick Goss - Summerhill CEO

Mick Goss

Summerhill CEOWe seem to have been doing more than our share of obituaries recently, though it might just be a fact of my own aging, and that of my contemporaries. Today’s is more a celebration than it is a mourning, as it’s in the nature of a memorial rather than a burial.

Yesterday, English racing’s cognoscenti gathered at Ely Cathedral, which was the late Sir Henry Cecil’s favourite piece of architecture. The assembly included riders who have served under the master trainer at Warren Place; Richard Quinn, Willie Ryan, Tony McGlone, Ted Durcan, John Lowe and Tom Queally, while the training fraternity present included Sir Michael Stoute, John Gosden, Johnand Ed Dunlop, Marco Botti, James Fanshawe and Roger Varian, as well as former assistants Luca Cumani, William Jarvis and David Lanigan. Also there were racing heavyweights Martin Pipe, Sir Robert Ogden, Lady Howard de Walden and Maria Niarchos, British Horseracing Authority Chief Executive, Paul Bittar; Simon Crisford and Clare Balding.

Heading the congregation of staff members were longstanding stalwarts Frank Conlon and Paddy Rudkin, while Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Racing Manager Teddy Beckett (Lord Grimthorpe), who sold us Stronghold, paid Sir Henry the ultimate tribute:

“If you were asked to paint a mural of the lifetime of Sir Henry Cecil, how on earth would you start this masterpiece?” Grimthorpe said. “To know Henry, you’d have to understand his closest friends were his horses. His maxim was ‘to feel our way, and let the horses tell us.’ Perhaps Henry’s greatest friend was Frankel, with apologies to all the others. Like all great friendships, neither would be the same without the other. He was a completely unique human being, whose legacy is recognized by all those here and by the millions around the world who loved him without even having had the good fortune to meet him.”




Bart Cummings
Bart Cummings

Bart Cummings

(Photo :


Mick Goss - Summerhill CEO
Mick Goss - Summerhill CEO

Mick Goss

Summerhill CEOOur story “A certainty, whatever the odds” has attracted a good bit of comment, much of it involving two masters of the Australian turf, Bart Cummings and Tommy Smith, and the trouble they found themselves in during the heady days of the late 80s, when tax schemes and racehorse investment syndicates were the rivals to the plantations, airplane and film “fantasies” dreamed up by local accountants at the time. I don’t know about Tommy Smith, but I do know of at least two books about Australia’s “Cup’s King”, Bart Cummings, one by his official biographer, Bruce Montgomerie, the other by my personal “pick” of racing’s scribes, Les Carlyon. To give you a brief idea of the man Cummings, he’s won no fewer than 12 Melbourne Cups, a record which is not only likely to stand the test of all time, but defines Cummings as the outstanding horseman of his era, if not in the history of the game. This is a legend in the proper sense of a word which has been much debated in recent times, but a man about whom very little is still known.

Cummings has never courted the media, never employed a public relations man, never taken on affectations, and he’s never taken himself too seriously away from the training tracks and stables. Yet he doesn’t do a sports babble, he doesn’t throw tantrums, there is nothing contrived, nothing theatrical. They tell us he is just the same today as he was almost sixty years ago, when he first took out a license, much the same away from the camera as he is in front of one. He has won hundreds of Group One races, yet he seldom leads in his own horses after a big race, one exception being his exquisite colt Beau Zam, after he’d won the St Leger at Randwick in 1988 by ten lengths. Cummings has never been about show, and he never will be. It is as though too much show is a form of bad manners, and anyway, post-race hysteria tends to frighten the horses, and the horses are the real heroes. Cummings belongs to the era of Don Bradman, when it was thought proper for sports heroes to be humble, and when they didn’t use social networking sites and a forest of exclamation marks to tell us about their trip to the supermarket. Modern fame, you suspect, still baffles Cummings. He is a man formed in another era. And like us, he understands that there is a danger to victory. Being gracious in defeat, as in victory, is not a characteristic that defines the modern sports era. I’m sure he often asks, what happened to being a good sport?

To get back to the tax schemes, by the time Bart and Tommy found themselves in hot water, our local Minister of Finance, Barend Du Plessis, had already shut ours down, just about a year before. The premier New Zealand yearling auction takes its place in the international racing calendar in January every year at Trentham, just outside the harbour city of Auckland. The Wrightson’s Bloodstock sales in an earlier generation, were the stomping grounds of Chris Smith, Cyril Hurwitz, John and Mary Liley and Herman Brown Senior, from the loins of which sprung the likes of Sledgehammer, Sun Monarch and Frisky, the latter winding up at Summerhill as a foundation mare for our long serving management team, Greig and Michele Muir.

That day at Trentham, money didn’t seem that important to Cummings, his purchases accounting for a quarter of the day’s takings. It was all about beating the other fellow and getting the right horses. Cummings was buying for his new Cups King Syndicate, and Cummings, the peerless horseman, had become a financier, a “packager” of horseflesh. He had strayed from the place he knew so well, the racecourse, into the world of men in suits, leveraged buyouts, debt and tax-effective deals. This new place was much more dangerous than the racecourse, and the rules were different. A handshake didn’t mean much here. By the time of the New Zealand sale, it had become commonplace to call racing an “industry” rather than a sport, and people were said to “invest” in it. In one sense this was absurd. Industries are rational and ordered, or at least try to be, so it’s possible to draw up a business plan, to make a list of reasonable expectations and assumptions, even to predict a likely yield or dividend. Racing isn’t like this, never has been, and never will be. That’s why it’s interesting. Whoever saw a piece of share scrip maim itself on a fence, then stand bewildered and uncomprehending, as the vet pushes the stitches through with plyers and bloodied fingers, and says, yes, there’s a chance this particular investment might make it to the races?

Racing is about as orderly as an earthquake. You breed the best to the best with the intention of selling the offspring, and the resulting colt comes out with misshapen forelegs and straight away, you’re out a couple of hundred thousand Rand. You breed an unfashionable stallion to a non-descript mare, and out comes Politician. Racing is proof that two plus two, doesn’t always come up as four.

There was another factor at work which had nothing to do with racing. The 80s was the era of deregulated money markets, of entrepreneurs, merchant bankers, company raiders and all manner of paper shufflers. They stalked the land trailing huge lines of credit. They were audacious and hungry and all over the business pages of newspapers, the new buccaneers.

Above all, this was an era when, as an American writer put it, the financial system slipped loose from its moorings, just as the collapse of Lehman Brothers five years ago, served as a bit of déjà vu about the frailties of humankind. For centuries, debt was considered something to be avoided, or at least entered into modestly. These days, debt is fashionable, and those who don’t embrace the idea are considered passé. What have been called the four most dangerous words in the English language were being spoken again “It’s different this time”. The new financiers of racing, or more specifically, the buying of yearlings, racing’s raw material - were accountants, lawyers, the young and brash movers and shakers of the new financial world. They were not necessarily steeped in the language of racing and horses. Oh, yes, they thought horses chic, but for reasons that had to do with leverage and tax avoidance.

The horse “packages” they came up with were different to what had gone before. The syndication of yearlings was not new: people like Wayne Alridge and Robin Bruss of Delta Bloodstock and Peter Youell of Equine Management, had been putting together syndicates in South Africa for some time with great success. These were the classic old-fashioned deals: one horse, one cash payment, no overt considerations of tax. Half a dozen people wanted to race a horse and have a bit of fun: if they also made money, that was a blessing. Neither was there anything new in trainers buying yearlings on “spec” in the expectation of passing them onto stable clients. That’s how Ever Fair was picked up by Johnny Nicholson for a “grand” and became the hero of the Johannesburg Summer Handicap, and how the diminutive “galloping goldmine” Grand National, found herself in the hands of a brotherhood of Lebanese racecourse “battlers” and wound up in the history books. In the Australian context, that’s how Tulloch, bought by Tommy Smith, came to be owned by an eighty-year old grazier from the little country town of Bathurst, in New South Wales.

What was new here was that the packages being fashioned in 1989 were about dozens of horses and millions of dollars, and were not aimed at traditional racing folk so much as business people, who wanted to trim their tax bills. The horses were simply the vehicles, just as oil exploration companies, (and as we’ve already said, films, aeroplanes and plantations) had been in earlier tax schemes. It was all about business and numbers: any fun was incidental.

By the late 80s, Cummings knew he could no longer sneak into New Zealand and pick up a potential Melbourne Cup winner for a couple of thousand dollars, as he’d done so often. He might pick one up for a couple of hundred thousand, if he was lucky, but he would more likely need half a million. He decided if he was going to compete, he needed to tap into all this deregulated money that was looking for a home. He got up the scheme with two well-known accounting firms. “I thought you couldn’t go wrong with such conservative, powerful names behind you”. And so the Cups King Syndicate was born, offering tax advantages to investors. In 1989, Cummings bought close to 90 yearlings for some $22 million at sales in Australia and New Zealand. He didn’t have to pay for them at once; the auction houses would extend credit until Cumming’s syndicate had sold their units to investors. A few months after the sales, however, it was clear to many that Australia’s wild boom, its love affair with debt and paper shuffling, was coming to an end, choking on its own excesses. Some, and they were not in the Federal government, saw a recession coming.

Supplies of speculative money were drying up, interest rates were high, big companies were crashing. The share market was skittish. The auction houses gave Cummings a final deadline for the end of June that year. After that, the horses had to be paid for. When the deadline came, Cummings still had 64 unsold yearlings on his books. He thought the risk was being shared by him and the two accounting firms. They told him though, that he was on his own. “I’d shaken hands with them” he wrote, “and made certain agreements which I believed we all understood together, but when they brought out the fine print on the contracts, they argued that when I thought I’d been doing this in a sophisticated risk-spreading way, I was actually doing what I’d been doing all along, putting up my money, taking all the risk myself”.

Cummings now had to sell 64 yearlings and, as he put it, he was caught in no-mans-land. People like to buy yearlings, fresh, untouched by saddles and riders. They also like to buy older horses with good racetrack form, but the horses Cummings was trying to sell, now rising two-year-olds, fell between these two poles, neither one thing nor the other.

William Inglis and Sons, who host the sale that spawned the likes of Igugu and Hollywoodboulevard for us, put the yearlings up at their Sydney stables in September 1989. It was a fire sale: no reserves. Someone with a black sense of humour came up with a title for the sale, “The Night Of The Stars”. Cummings sat in the auditorium, hunched in his overcoat with his wife Valmae beside him. For him it was the night of purgatory. The horses brought $9 million. At the end of the night, Cummings still owed three auction houses around $11 million. He took the accounting firms to the Federal court, and the hearing endured for six weeks. Some months later, the court ruled that no joint venture existed, and the debt was Cumming’s alone.

A five year repayment scheme was eventually worked out. Cummings conceded that it was at least better than bankruptcy. He sold his home in Vaucluse and Prince’s Farm at Castlereigh, which he’d bought only a few years earlier. The loss of the farm hurt him more than the loss of the family home, and anyone who’d savoured its beauty, would understand why. People were even beginning to think he was mortal. Bart was now 63, an age when most men are thinking about retirement, and when the one thing they’re certainly not thinking about, is starting over again. He’d won seven Melbourne Cups, made a lot of money and now with one wrong move, one that had nothing to do with horsemanship, he’d lost a great deal of it. Many in the sport at this point said, softly and without malice, that most of his future was behind him. He couldn’t come back to what he had been after a setback like this, not at his age, not with all that debt hanging about him like coils of a chain.

It’s a measure of the man that he’s since bounced back to win another five Melbourne Cups in less than two decades since this mess manifested itself, he’s overcome grave illness and recovered his beloved farm, and to this day, he’s at his yard before the sun rises and most days, leaves it when it’s almost set again.




Mike de Kock Equus Awards
Mike de Kock Equus Awards

Mike de Kock

(Image : Emperors Palace/HKJC)



According to journalist David Thiselton from Gold Circle, Mike de Kock has already secured his eighth National Trainers Title - without having to sweat it out with close challenger Sean Tarry at the last meeting of the season scheduled for Scottsville tomorrow… so writes Charl Pretorius on Mike de Kock Racing. Click here to read more…




Sir Henry Cecil
Sir Henry Cecil

Sir Henry Cecil

(Photo : Evening Standard)


1943 - 2013

Sir Henry Cecil, one of Britain’s most successful trainers of all time, has died. He was 70 and had battled stomach cancer since 2006. The Warren Place conditioner registered 25 British Classic wins, and had lately guided the unbeaten Frankel (GB) (Galileo).

“It is with great sadness that Warren Place Stables confirms the passing of Sir Henry Cecil earlier this morning,” reported “Following communication with the British Horseracing Authority, a temporary licence will be allocated to Lady Cecil. No further update is anticipated this afternoon.”

Born near Aberdeen in 1943, 10 minutes ahead of his brother David, who died in 2000, Cecil took out his trainer’s licence in 1969 and registered his first British Classic win with Bolkonski (Ire) (Balidar) in the 1975 G1 2000 Guineas, following up a year later with Wollow (Ire) (Wolver Hollow). Frankel became his third 2000 Guineas winner in 2011. He also won four renewals of both the G1 St Leger and the G1 Epsom Derby, winning the latter with Slip Anchor (GB) (Shirley Heights), Reference Point (GB) (Mill Reef), Commander in Chief (GB) (Dancing Brave) and Oath (Ire) (Fairy King).

Cecil, who was Knighted by The Queen for services to horseracing in 2011, was renowned for his record with distaffers and tallied six victories in the G1 1000 Guineas and eight in the G1 Epsom Oaks. He was crowned Britain’s champion trainer on 10 occasions, with the lastest of those titles in 1993, and amassed a record 75 Royal Ascot winners.

Despite the lack of a Group 1 success in the early part of the millennium, Cecil was resurgent when Light Shift (Kingmambo) bagged the 2007 G1 Epsom Oaks, but the best was saved until last. His career reached a pinnacle through his association with the unbeaten Frankel, who claimed 10 Group 1 events in an unbeaten 14-race career.

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News


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Allez France - 1974 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe
Allez France - 1974 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

Click above to watch Allez France winning the 1974 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

(Image and Footage : Shalakhani)


cot campbell
cot campbell

Cot Campbell

BloodhorseThe charm of horse racing lies primarily in the animals that do it - their beauty, grace, power and their degree of class. But there is an undeniable attraction to the colourful human beings that make it happen. The purpose of this blog is to share my stories about some of these characters. My requisites in the selection: I had dealings with them, their antics and accomplishments should not be forgotten, and they are no longer with us.

I have dealt with a number of America’s greatest horse trainers. None evokes more delicious memories than Angel Penna.

Angel Penna was a son of Argentina, but as a horseman, he was international in every sense of the word. Linguistically, he took a crack at three different languages, sometimes simultaneously! He was surely one of the greatest Thoroughbred trainers who ever lived and also one of the most challenging with whom to communicate. He trained stakes winners Law Court, Montubio, and Southjet (the latter two winning Grade 1’s) for Dogwood Stable. Never in my relationship with him did I know exactly what the hell he was talking about.

That’s an exaggeration because somehow he managed to be a most delightful and expressive companion. He had a marvelous sense of humor, and he was very witty (I think). His face helped immeasurably because it was constantly and eloquently assisting with his dialogue. There were fearsome scowls, moments of beaming exuberance, beatific benevolence, vigorous rolling of the eyes, glances heavenward to invite God’s sympathy, weary looks of resignation, and constant shoulder shrugging. All of these were accompanied by guttural grunts and a strange quasi-tap dancing shtick to help sell his point. You eventually got the gist of all this pantomime.

One of our horses, Montubio - once suffered a severe case of colic. The vet was summoned. He oiled him in an effort to unblock the impacted bowel. The treatment was successful, and soon the horse was able to eliminate waste material. When I called Angel to ascertain the horse’s condition, I was delighted to hear the lilt in his voice and to get his down-to-earth report: “Oh, he ees very fine now. He have many uh… uh… poo-poo!”

Angel defined the word volatile yet was as kind a fellow as you would ever know. An unforgettable character.

He looked like my idea of a dashing, decidedly upscale gaucho. Angel was of moderate height but had short, bandy legs attached to a torso belonging to a bigger man. He was heavy, not fat, and strong, with very wide shoulders. Penna’s face was weathered, with a prominent nose and bright, intelligent eyes. His hair, beginning to thin, looked as if it had been painted on his head.

Penna was a natty dresser. No blue jeans for him. He wore cavalry twill trousers, a smart checkered shirt with an ascot or, at least, a colored handkerchief knotted debonairly around his neck. He usually wore a sport coat. His paddock boots were shined daily, by someone in the barn, I would imagine. This was a trainer who would probably be attired in a dark blue business suit when he saddled a horse. He had style galore.

Penna trained in Argentina, Venezuela, France, and America and produced champions in the latter three. He won practically every great race in Europe, including two Prix de l’Arc de Triomphes (Fr-1) with the fillies San San and Allez France. San San’s regular ride was Jean Cruguet, but he had been injured five days before the Arc and was replaced by Freddie Head. After winning the race, Angel first went to find Cruguet. He cupped the rider’s face in his hands and tearfully commiserated that the sidelined jockey had not been able to experience the thrill of this victory. Never mind that a week earlier Angel might have chased Cruguet out of the stable yard in a towering rage.

Penna won practically every great race in Europe except the English Derby (Eng-1), and many great races in this country but not the Kentucky Derby (Gr1). [Over here] he trained for Ogden Phipps, Gus Ring, Frank Stronach, Dogwood, and Peter Brant among others.

His wife aided him enormously. Elinor Penna served as sort of a conversational facilitator, explaining a little here, cuing Angel at certain times, and defusing when necessary. She was a former sports commentator, a keen student of the racing scene, well-connected socially, and a wit of the first dimension. Angel sired a son, Angel Jr., to whom he was devoted. This Penna is now one of America’s most prominent trainers.

Talking on the phone with Penna was the most difficult form of communication because you were robbed of the visual aids. When “call waiting” was first offered, for some reason Angel, who really did not relish talking on the phone, ordered it on his barn line. This service threw him into a constant tizzy, and he switched in confusion back and forth from one caller to another, often pursuing the wrong subject with the wrong party and usually disconnecting both parties. Elinor puzzled, “I don’t know why he wants to tackle two callers. He can’t even talk to one person on the phone.”

I once gave Angel a gigantic Nijinsky filly to train. Her name was Helenska. He took a long time with her, as he was prone to do. Of course, I wanted to get a line on her, and I periodically sought his opinion. “What do you think of this filly so far, Angel?” I would ask from time to time. “Ahhh! Too beeg… too beeg!” he would exclaim, throwing his arms and head skyward, to seek divine assistance. The filly bucked her shins finally, and I took her back to the farm to be fired. When she got over this ailment, I decided to send her to another trainer because I was convinced Angel did not like her (Is that not what “too beeg… too beeg” implied?).

She did go to another barn. When Angel recognized her training on the racetrack one morning, he went ballistic. It seems he loved the filly all along, was looking forward to getting her back, and was crushed that I had insulted him by sending her to another man. He called me up and “fired” me, told me to remove my horses from his barn. Knowing this storm, legitimate though it may have been, would blow over soon, I phoned the next day and was finally able to smooth his ruffled feathers. This was one time when Elinor’s interpretive services were badly needed.

He was truly an internationally renowned trainer and had ruled the roost on three continents. He was the man! He knew it, and his barn knew it. It was run with the precision of West Point. His staff adored him, struggled to please him, and treated him like a king. He was at his barn 14 to 16 hours a day. When the Allen Jerkenses and the Pennas went out to dinner, four cars were necessary. Both Elizabeth Jerkens and Elinor Penna knew that Allen and Angel would be going back to their barns for an hour or two after dinner.

Amazingly, Penna could get a horse ready to run a mile and a quarter-and win-first time out. Inexplicably, he never seemed to breeze the horse. He had what he called “happy gallops,” which were just that: exuberant, open gallops that lasted maybe a half-mile, but more likely a quarter-mile. There was nothing noteworthy or detectable in his training regimen that would explain this singular magic. And you sure as hell couldn’t ask him. He might take a long time to get a horse ready to run, but when his horses were led to the paddock, they were ready to crack. His horses were happy and they were fit, or they weren’t put in the entries.

He liked to ride Vasquez, Bailey, and Cruguet, and he loved Angel Cordero, who had a flair for kidding him into a jolly frame of mind. But one time Cordero could not.

Penna had brought to this country a very good horse named Lyphard’s Wish. The colt was ready for his first race, and Angel Cordero would be riding him. Penna was not noted for his precise riding instructions, but he knew exactly what he wanted. According to Cordero, Penna’s instructions were something like, “Don’t take no hold. If they walk, you walk. If they go fast, you walk. When you get there… you move!” If this is verbatim, one can understand the jockey’s confusion (although Cordero never paid any attention to instructions anyway!). Cordero swore that Penna always instructed to “move when you get there.” But he never said where “there” was!

This day Lyphard’s Wish, fresh and running for the first time in strange surroundings, roared out of the gate, hit the front, and ran off with Cordero. At the sixteenth pole, the rank horse was out of gas and got beat, thoroughly embarrassing Cordero and infuriating Penna in the process. When the rider dismounted and weighed in, there was Angel Penna doing his little jig of rage. The veins in his neck were distended, he was flinging his arms about, and his visage was wreathed in wrath. He sputtered for words powerful enough to express his utter contempt for Cordero’s ride. “What you do? What you do? You ride thees horse like a uh, uh, black man!” The Puerto Rican Cordero replied, as he walked with the trainer back toward the jockey’s room, “Well, hell, I am a black man. What do you think these are-blonde curls?”

Angel Cordero thought it was funny. So did Angel Penna - about two days later.

Cot Campbell is author of Rascals & Racehorses: A Sporting Man’s Life.

Courtesy of Cot Campbell,

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Igugu wins the J&B Met
Igugu wins the J&B Met

Igugu wins the 2012 J&B Met (Grade 1)

(Photo : Gold Circle)


10 January 2013 - 30 March 2013

Robert Garner - Still savouring Rumya’s victory in last Saturday’s Avontuur Estate Cape Fillies Guineas, South Africa’s globe-trotting champion trainer Mike de Kock has jetted off to Dubai to oversee his international raiding party’s preparations for the 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival.

The Carnival comprises 11 race meetings culminating in Dubai World Cup on 30 March, when the nine Graded races carded include the world’s richest race, the $10-million Dubai World Cup, and two $5-million events in the Dubai Sheema Classic and the Dubai Duty Free.

The Dubai World Cup Carnival starts on Thursday 10 January and carries record total prize money of $37-million.

De Kock first went to Dubai in 2003 with just five horses and promptly won two races at Dubai World Cup, putting South African horseracing into the global limelight overnight.

He has gone on to become the top international trainer in Dubai. He has been leading international trainer at the Carnival seven times and has won nine races on the big night, a total bettered only by Dubai-based Saeed Bin Suroor.

More big prizes in Dubai look set to come his way in the first three months of next year, when he will roll out some really heavy artillery on to the battlefields of Meydan.

Igugu, Horse Of The Year in South African in 2011 when her victories included the Vodacom Durban July, is undoubtedly the general of De Kock’s Dubai army.

Igugu’s long and arduous road to Dubai World Cup 2013 began back in June with a 20-day stint in the Cape quarantine station followed by a five-hour flight to Mauritius, where she spent 90 days along with the other 13 members of De Kock’s raiding party.

That was followed by a month in England and the weary travellers final arrived in the desert last month for a final short stint in the Dubai quarantine station before getting down to work for the Carnival.

“The journey to Dubai was a nightmare,” says De Kock. “Fortunately, with the exception of Emotif, they all came through it reasonably well and I’m happy with them. They should be right for the Carnival next month.”

Igugu, sidelined since winning the J&B Met back in January, can target any of the 1800m Duty Free, the 2400m Sheema Classic (both on turf) and the Dubai World Cup on the synthetic track at the world’s richest race meeting at the end of March, although the Duty Free is probably the race she will run in.

“My first choice is to keep her on turf, but we will see how she trains on the synthetic track before finalising our options,” De Kock said.

The other South Africans who made the trip with Igugu include champion sprinter Shea Shea, dual Grade 1 winner The Apache and Soft Falling Rain, the champion two-year-male in South Africa last season.

Soft Falling Rain, who is unbeaten with four from four to date, is being aimed at the UAE Guineas over 1600m.

“I’m confident he will go on the synthetic and my concern is whether he will get 1600m. He’s out of a Giant’s Causeway mare, which gives hope he will stay. But we can always race him over shorter or on the grass if need be.”

The Apache’s target at this point is the Dubai Duty Free, but he’s likely to start out in the first round of the Al Maktoum Challenge on the synthetic (all-weather) track.

“I’m not sure he will go on the all-weather track, but we’ll see. Shea Shea will be kept to sprints and there are some decent races for speed horses on the programme. Emotif was my Triple Crown filly, but those plans are down the drain after she suffered heat stress in quarantine here.”

De Kock is hoping to win a couple of nice races with Mickdaam, who he sent out to finish fourth in the UAE Derby last year. Mickdaam then spent the summer in England, where he won the Chester Vase and ran fifth in the Investec Epsom Derby.

“He’s back from a good rest and is doing very well. I’m eyeing the Sheema Classic for him.”

De Kock has two new acquisitions from Coolmore in Ireland in Await The Dawn, who has a third in the Juddmonte International to his credit, and Grade 2 winner David Livingston.

“Await The Dawn is a lovely horse but he’s had a hard time and it will take a long time to get him right. David Livingston was bought for stud, but it was decided to give him a last season of racing and we’ll just have to wait and see how he goes,” De Kock said.

Mushreq is among the other horses De Kock brought from South Africa. He’s hoping the four-year-old will enjoy the synthetic surface at Meydan and can win a couple of handicaps during the Carnival.

Extract from Tab Online

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Stanley Greeff - King of Port Elizabeth
Stanley Greeff - King of Port Elizabeth

Stanley Greeff - Inset with Shy Pruto, 1962

(Images : Summerhill Archives/Tab News)


1928 - 2010

As Port Elizabeth racing prepares for its biggest weekend of the year on 25 November, headlined by the Algoa Cup, Mike Moon remembers one of its greatest men of the turf.

Stanley Greeff was 12 when he saw his first racehorses. It was a life-changing moment. Enchanted by the creatures, he followed them as they were led down the road - and kept following for the next 70 years.

After that first experience he never contemplated doing anything in life but racing thoroughbreds. It was often tough going but that early passion for horses fuelled the will to make good.

He became one of South Africa’s best trainers and the towering figure of Port Elizabeth racing for decades. He set so many winning records that no-one seems to have managed to keep a precise tally of them. Certainly no-one’s likely to better them - not even his talented son Alan, the worthy inheritor of Halo Stables at Fairview from where Greeff senior sent out thousands of winners.

Stanley Greeff saw those first racehorses as they disembarked from a train at Wynberg in Cape Town where his father, Cornelius, was the newly installed station master - having been promoted from Worcester station, where Stanley was born. Struck by the size and beauty of the animals, the 12-year-old followed them as they walked to the nearby racecourse.

He passed through the gates of Kenilworth in the wake of the string as it arrived to compete at a meeting. And it was no ordinary meeting. It was 2 November 1940: Met Day.

Young Stanley watched Ming win from Pigling Bland in that wartime renewal of Cape Town’s premier race and it sealed the deal for him. From then on, he was at the races every Saturday, hopping the fence to gain access to the adults-only venue.

Stanley got himself part-time jobs at Milnerton stables and rode in amateur races at Durbanville. A schoolmate and fellow rider was Terrence Millard, who became a lifelong friend and a great trainer himself. Other rivals at the time included Syd Laird, Ralph Rixon, Peter Kannemeyer and Theo de Klerk - all of whom later made their mark in racing.

Stanley graduated to professional riding and had winners. “But Dad always said he wasn’t much of a success as a jockey,” says Alan. “He was too tall and too heavy.” A photo on the wall of Alan’s office proves the point, showing a lanky-looking Stanley aboard a winner at Durbanville in December 1945.

He became assistant trainer to Sonny Whiteford and then to Sebi de Meillon at Milnerton. The legendary Syd Garrett occupied the next-door yard and Stanley took advantage of the chance to learn from a master, absorbing everything he could.

Taking his own licence in 1952, Stanley achieved moderate success with limited stock. His first good horse was Sun Lass, a filly whose elevation to stardom was a tale Stanley told with relish all his life.

She was an unprepossessing little thing with few prospects. But when a well-regarded stablemate, a feature-race candidate, found himself short of galloping companions she was pressed into service. She ran away from the top colt, causing consternation, with Stanley fearing the latter had gone wrong on the eve of the big race. When the colt romped in on the day, the penny dropped. He had something special on his hands.

Sun Lass won 10 races, including the Paddock Stakes, and placed fourth in the Met. As a broodmare her winning offspring included Durban July victor Yataghan and her female progeny also produced much black type.

In a fiercely competitive era, it wasn’t easy going in Cape Town. Apart from “setting up” betting coups - as most trainers did at the time to keep heads above water - Stanley took to raiding the lesser centre of Port Elizabeth. His horses travelled up the coast overnight on the Union Castle mail ships that plied the East Coast.

Good friend and ace jockey Johnny Cawcutt rode many of the horses on these successful raids and Stanley grew to love PE and its friendly people. He decamped up the coast in 1962, working as assistant to trainer Fred Pienaar before setting up on his own at the old Arlington at Walmer.

“He battled for a long time,” observes Alan. “He was certainly not an overnight success in PE. But in those days all the trainers helped each other and he survived.”

Stanley’s marriage in 1968 to Lorraine, his second wife and mother to Alan and Jenny, marked the beginning of ascendancy on the track.

The Greeffs lived for many years on a smallholding at Greenbushes, near present-day Fairview, and Stanley kept cows, goats and chickens, made butter and grew veggies with the same dedication he had for horsemanship.

“He was a very hard worker. Always busy, never idle,” remembers Lorraine. She also recalls the racecourse glory days and seeing Stanley carry off more than 25 Eastern Cape champion trainers’ titles down the years. He doubled up by winning championship in Bloemfontein in 1991 with travelling horses.

Through the 1970s, ’80s and into the ’90s, he won every major race on the PE calendar. Trainer Andy Smith provided the stiffest opposition - as his son Gavin Smith now does for Alan Greeff. (Indeed, the names Greeff and Smith are the only ones you’ll see on an Eastern Cape training honours board for the past 40 years or so.)

The outstanding runners included Polly Bisqui, Loadstone, Thrilling, Broad Run, Western Wind, Annie, Blue Nile, Soho Secret and La Fabulous.

Halo Stables is named after the filly Halo, who was Stanley’s 100th winner of the season in 1980. He’d earlier broken Millard’s South African record of 90 winners in a season and went on to set a new mark of 105 - a phenomenal achievement from relatively few meetings.

The first Greeff horse always mentioned is Polly Bisqui, who won 13 in a row, setting a new national fillies’ record. Her victory in the Grade 2 Tibouchina Stakes at Clairwood illustrated how Stanley was ever ready to take his horses to major centres.

The Met in Cape Town was always in his sights. He managed two seconds, with Western Wind and Soho Secret, and a fourth, with Western Wind. “He was so distraught about that fourth place because he was sure Western Wind would have won if he’d got a clear run,” remembers Allan.

Another name always mentioned in relation to Stanley Greeff is Gavin Venter.

The rider joined him as an apprentice in 1975, fresh from the SA Jockey’s Academy, and they stayed together as a team for 35 years.

“We worked very well together; we respected one another. We won Eastern Cape trainer and jockey championships together 16 times in a row,” says Gavin, now an assistant trainer to Tara Laing at Fairview.

Gavin rates Polly Bisqui and Soho Secret as the best Greeff runners he rode. The latter won 10 times and became SA’s champion broodmare thanks to her brilliant son London News.

“I rate Stanley Greeff the country’s best trainer of fillies and mares,” declares Gavin. “He just had a knack with them; it came naturally. He never pushed any horses too hard, but was particularly careful with fillies. And once he got them to the top he could keep them there for quite a while.”

For all his filly sensitivity, Stanley was no softie.

“He was tough as teak to work for,” grins Alan, who learnt this first-hand when he became an assistant in the 1990s after a lengthy educational programme mapped out by his father that took in learning at the hands of the Millards and at top USA farms. “He didn’t take any nonsense and was respected for it.”

Gavin Venter concurs: “He was a very hard taskmaster. Not many other jockeys stayed with him too long. I remember once I rode six winners on one day and our apprentice, Delano Pieterse, rode another. But I lost out in the main race, running a short-head second on a 33-1 chance. Mr Greeff didn’t speak to me for a week he was so upset at not winning every race on the card!”

As uncompromising as he was on the job, Stanley was always ready with help and advice for those in need, remembering kindnesses he’d received during his hard times. Alan recalls that if a fellow trainer was under financial strain, his father would often donate bags of horse feed - but deliver them anonymously, to avoid embarrassment, after the recipient had left his yard for the day.

In the mid-1990s, Stanley handed over to Alan but maintained an active daily interest in the operation. Even as he entered his 80s and fell ill, Stanley would insist on going to gallops and the races.

“We’d drive him to Arlington and park the car next to the stewards’ room, above the steps, with a view of the track,” says Allan. “We’d set up a table and chair for him and he’d enjoy a whisky, watch the action and chat to all the people who dropped by to say hello.”

Alan says his father “ate, drank and slept horses and racing” and often said he’d lived a most rewarding life and wouldn’t want to change any of it.

Stanley was diagnosed with lung cancer in April 2010 and passed away in August that year. Another veteran PE trainer, Nic Claassen, died on the same day, leaving the region’s racing community in shock.

Champion breeder Mick Goss penned a heart-felt tribute on his Summerhill website, in which he said Stanley “was a dyed in the wool horseman if ever there was one”, and added: “Fond of the most amusing fables of our sport, he was racing’s unofficial custodian of the anecdotes of his era… Rest well, old pal…”

Extract from Tab News




Mike de Kock
Mike de Kock

Mike de Kock

(Image : Thoroughbred News/PTTextures)

“Any day now I expect to hear the cry “Nationalise De Kock!”

mike moon the times
mike moon the times

Mike Moon

The TimesDe Kock is a strategic resource, a wellspring of revenue and a maker of legend. What self-respecting member of the political gang can resist the temptation to grab a bit of that action? Or indeed all of it?

The glorious revolution demands De Kock be put in the service of the pals, uh sorry, the people.

Why is such a valuable commodity the preserve of the rich? Even worse, De Kock is used by the despicable likes of farmers, bankers and foreigners to build their fortunes. It’s imperialist pillage, colonial rape and cultural hegemony all over again.

If the government owned and ran De Kock, the entire country could share in the bounteous benefits of the phenomenon - as it does with Telkom, South African Airways, the Limpopo education department… oh wait…

If anyone hasn’t twigged, I’m talking of Mike de Kock, world-renowned racehorse trainer extraordinaire who has exhausted every superlative and cliché.

Seriously, come to think of it, our feeble government could well do with a bit of Old Mike Magic; with a wave of the wand, he turns horses into winged wonders. Imagine the clots in the cabinet under the De Kock spell; there’d be a dangerous speed wobble.

Last Saturday at Turffontein, in a line-up of 16 horses in the Charity Mile, five contenders came from the De Kock stable.

One of them won the race - Mujaarib, owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai. As if he needs the cash. It could have gone a long way towards building a nice comfy bunker for the people in a compound somewhere.

The other De Kock runners finished in third, fourth, fifth and 14th positions. So, four of the five prize cheques went to the trainer’s connections.

Oh, and he had two other winners on Saturday’s card.

It was the first major meeting of spring and the champ simply picked up where he left off winning in the last Highveld season, and in the Natal winter season, the Cape summer season, the Dubai Carnival.

Mike holds 20 of the 60 early nominations for the Sansui Summer Cup, to be run on December 1, and one wouldn’t bet against his taking the lion’s share of that R2million stake.

There are scores of racehorse trainers in the country, so for one of them to have a full third of the top runners in Johannesburg’s premier race is astonishing.

It tells the story of a compelling winning record and of owners clamouring to have a wizard prepare their nags.

Racing might be an elitist, bourgeois, running-dog capitalist evil to our vapid class warriors, but no one can say De Kock’s success isn’t a product of honest ambition, hard work and talent.

There was no family silver spoon or BEE ladle involved in the rise of the national treasure from Alberton.

Extract from The Times




Mark Dixon
Mark Dixon

Trainer Mark Dixon studies the Ready To Run catalogue

(Photo : Heather Morkel)


Summerhill Stud, Mooi River

Friday 19th October 2012

One of the Emperors Palace Ready To Run’s most successful “pickers (if not the most successful) is Durban trainer, Mark Dixon. Besides current four-from-four” star SHOWMETHEWAY, Dixon has had an unparalleled four runners from five renewals of what is now the R2.5 million Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup, including the inaugural hero, UMNGAZI, who did it at the expense of subsequent Champion IMBONGI. Remember Clyde Basel’s frantic call from the commentary box “Umngazi, Imbongi, the two Zulus” in a history-making charge for the biggest “Breeze Up” prize in the world?

In his stable newsletter this week, Dixon reminded us of his thoughts: “Speaking of Sales we have the Emperors Palace Ready to Run Sales coming up on the 2nd and 4th of November. We have bought some really good, sound horses on this sale - Namely UMNGAZI (Gr 3 winner), PRIZE FLOWER (5 wins), BELLAGIO (6 wins), GREEN AFRICA (4 wins) and most recently SHOWMETHEWAY. I particularly like this sale as the horses all do a “Breeze Up” so one is able to see how the horse moves and the really athletic ones who possess a decent turn of foot stand out. I always go to the stables directly after the Breeze Up to check the horses’ legs and those with decent legs who have stood up to their preparation generally will be sound horses. I won the inaugural running of the Ready to Run Cup with Umngazi for owners Bruce Lin and Frank Wu when it was run for a stake of R500k. It is now being run for an astounding R2.5 million with tenth place paying R50k. Only graduates of the Ready to Run Sale can qualify to run in the race which is a huge incentive. In the past my pick of the sales have been horses like FISANI and EXTRA ZERO who have not been at the top end of the market, but have been out of my reach when R200k has been my limit.

Both these fillies ran second the years they contested the Cup and both went on to win feature races. My pick last year was a horse called COOKIE MONSTER who is a strapping athletic son of Kahal and I was the under bidder on this colt. I had already gone R50k more than I had for him and he was sold for R360k. He has run 4 times for 3 places and a win and will no doubt be taking his place in this year’s field and should relish every bit of the 1450m the race is run over. This year I would like to put together a syndicate so that I can hopefully find another Umngazi and the syndicate members can all enjoy the thrill of racing for a stake of R2.5 million. Hayley and I will be attending the gallops which will take place at Summerhill on the 19’th of October. This is a really good day out so please feel free to join us. I will be doing a short list after the gallops which I will email out to everyone, so please start giving it some thought and let me know if you are keen to be involved”.

For further information, please contact Mark Dixon :

+27 (0) 31 769 1390

+27 (0) 83 777 8766




Mike de Kock - Newmarket Yard
Mike de Kock - Newmarket Yard

Mike de Kock

(Photo : Tab Online)

“If the BHA agrees, the horses will race under the names

of their South African trainers.”

Michael Clower - Racing Post
Michael Clower - Racing Post

Michael Clower

Racing PostMike de Kock is planning to expand his Newmarket operation by persuading other South African trainers to send him horses to be trained at his Abington Place base.

He will charge his normal training fees but the South African trainers will be paid the statutory percentages on their horses’ earnings while De Kock will take a smaller percentage. Furthermore, if the BHA agrees, the horses will race under the names of their South African trainers.

The seven-time South African Champion Trainer revealed his plans in an interview with David Mickleburgh commissioned by the country’s TBA and published on their website (click here to read the article).

De Kock also revealed his frustration at the complicated, lengthy and expensive travel arrangements necessitated by the ban on direct importation of horses from South Africa. This was imposed as a result of outbreaks of African Horse Sickness and is not due to expire until next May. Therefore his Dubai horses have gone via Mauritius and they have to then spend a further 30 days in Europe before being allowed into Dubai.

He said: “It costs the racehorses a potential health-threatening 147 days (including 40 in Mauritius where they are locked in their stables from 4.00pm to 8.30am with only an early morning feed, and then a 50-day residency period) and costs the owners US$50,000 per horse to meet the export protocols.”

“There is no scientific or veterinary reason for these imposts beyond the reasonable 21 days quarantine in South Africa to ensure that the animal is clean. Compare this to the limited restrictions on Australian horses where the illnesses they get can be life-threatening to even humans.”

“These restrictions are like a trade embargo and could even be considered illegal. Our authorities could, perhaps, become a little more aggressive and contemplate legal action. After all we have never exported a single case of African Horse Sickness.”

“But somewhere in an unknown address funny little people, who patently know nothing and are driven by a form of paranoia, or more worryingly may have an axe to grind or have become accommodating for other reasons, invent restrictions on South African horses that are beyond comprehension. I can only hope that when the next round of protocols is announced someone sees reason.”

Extract from Racing Post




Team G Racing Syndicate - Dirtydealin Mamma
Team G Racing Syndicate - Dirtydealin Mamma

Dirtydealin Mamma - TGR Syndicate

(Photo ; Gold Circle)

“It’s On Fire”

If you read “Up the Irish” yesterday, you’ll have “moseyed” the good looking mugs of our friends from Box 3A, who’ve ushered in a fresh and youthful spirit to the ranks of our owners in KZN.

This is another picture of racings new revolution in ownership, and if they keep on winning, you can count on a snowball. Trainer Gavin van Zyl has made it possible by introducing a system of fractional ownership, so that you can buy as little as 1% of a horse and become a player. Suddenly the game is accessible to a much broader audience, and Gavin tells us “it’s on fire”. The van Zyls have been the pioneers here, and they deserve plaudits for their efforts. It will take a bit of administering, we all know that, but this could be another game-changer in attracting new participants, especially if their charges are named Dirtydealin Mamma, like this victorious lady is.

For more information, please visit :




Basil Marcus
Basil Marcus

Basil Marcus

(Photo : Marcus Racing)


Basil Marcus has returned to South Africa after deciding to cut short his Singapore training stint and this time he intends acting as assistant to his son Adam.

Marcus told Michael Clower: “Adam has a real passion for racing and he did tremendously well in the last two seasons that we were in Cape Town. We are very keen to get going again and at the moment we are waiting for stables in Natal. We are hopeful that these will come up in the near future as we are all ready to go.”

Marcus (54) started training in Cape Town in 2004 and sent out almost 300 winners in 5½ seasons including the 2007 Cape Guineas and Cape Derby with subsequent Dubai Duty Free and Singapore Airlines International Cup winner, Jay Peg. Early last year he moved to Singapore but, although he had 15 winners, he did not make the same impact and decided to return to South Africa. Adam was his assistant in Cape Town and in Singapore.

Marcus was a jockey for 30 years and had considerable success almost round the globe. In South Africa he twice won the J&B Met; he was champion in Hong Kong and in Britain he rode for Michael Jarvis and Clive Brittain. He was second on the latter’s Game Plan in the 1990 Oaks and rode her to victory in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh.

marcus racing
marcus racing


Extract from Racing Post




Tribute  to trainer Ginger McCain
Tribute to trainer Ginger McCain

Click above to watch a tribute to Ginger McCain

(Image : The Sun - Footage : Birmingham Post)

Donald “Ginger” McCain

21 September 1930 - 19 September 2011

Ginger McCain, the legendary trainer of Red Rum, died in the early hours of Monday morning at his home in Cholmondeley in Cheshire, following a short illness. He was 80.

McCain trained Red Rum to win the Grand National in 1973, 1974 and 1977, and also won the race with Amberleigh House in 2004, when his son Donald Jnr was assistant. Ginger handed over the licence to his son in 2006 and was on hand to witness the McCain name going down on the Grand National roll call again when Ballabriggs (Presenting) won the Aintree showpiece this year. He is survived by his wife Beryl, his son Donald Jnr and his daughter Joanne.

McCain’s feat in training Red Rum to run in five consecutive Grand Nationals, being never out of the first two, was all the more remarkable because not only was he at the time a car dealer and taxi driver to help pay for his training, but also Red Rum had very poor feet. It was this reason that he trained the horse on the beach and kept walking through the salt water that helped to keep the horse sound. Red Rum also won the Scottish Grand National a week after his second victory at Aintree. McCain, as a man, was larger than life, often controversal and rarely politically correct, but he had great charm, a very large heart, a passion for the Grand National and traditional steeplechasing and not least a formidable brain and had a quality of showmanship that was important in preserving the Grand National. He once remarked that Red Rum had made more money since he retired than he had on the racecourse, which was typical of the shrewdness which was often hidden by his bluff appearance.

Extract from European Bloodstock News




Tutuzela and Garth Puller
Tutuzela and Garth Puller

Tutuzela has a cuppa with Garth Puller

(Photo : David Thiselton)

“Clairwood’s most loved Racehorse”

David Thiselton Gold Circle
David Thiselton Gold Circle

David Thiselton

Gold CircleTutuzela is probably Clairwood’s most loved Racehorse, although it would seem that he doesn’t realise he was bred primarily to perform at high speeds.

While most racehorses are fraught with high energy and are eager to get back to their boxes after a workout, Tutuzela is happy for his trainer, Garth Puller, to first pop in at the track’s little clubhouse for a chat or a cup of tea or even just to take shelter from the rain. Tutuzela doesn’t bat an eyelid as Puller rides him around the clubhouse and onto the paved area where trainers and jockeys enjoy their tea.

He can even be left unattended and usually partakes in refreshments with a cup of water and a bunch of grass. Jockeys, trainers and the work force all know him and he will get a few friendly greetings during the day. The eight-year-old gelding won one race over 2400m as a four-year-old and was retired as a one-time winner about a year later; but that doesn’t tell the full story of his worth.

He is used to accompany difficult horses down the start on racedays and is also used for the same purpose at morning workouts. “He works up to four times a day,” said Puller. “I will use him and then another trainer might ask if he can borrow him. Not once has he pressed back his ears or refused to co-operate. He is just the most lovely natured horse and would not be capable of harming anybody or anything. He is able to have a calming influence on the most nervous of horses. He is also used to accompany nervous horses during practise or qualifying sessions at the starting stalls as they are required to jump in pairs or as a threesome.”

Tutuzela is such an easy ride that he is the perfect for the newcomer to workriding. He has, therefore, been used to introduce every apprentice for the last five years or so who is making his or her first visit to the Clairwood racing tracks.

Visitors love him too as young kids are able to sit on Tutuzela and if Puller mounts behind them he is able to canter obediently around the ring with the toddler holding the rein.

Tutuzela, who was bred and named by Champion Breeders, Summerhill Stud, has an appropriate name as it is a Zulu word referring to the action of a mother lying her baby on his or her stomach and massaging his or her back.

Extract from The Sunday Tribune




Mike de Kock and Pierre Jourdan
Mike de Kock and Pierre Jourdan

Trainer Mike de Kock

(Inage : Tab Online / Pierre Jourdan)


Turffontein, Turf, 1800m

12 June 2011

Karel Miedema Sporting Post
Karel Miedema Sporting Post

Karel Miedema underestimate a champion trainer and always exercise caution with Gauteng feature form. The unstoppable Mike de Kock threw punters a curved ball at Turffontein on Sunday 12 June when he produced the Argentinian-bred daughter of Singspiel, Candy Singer, at a generous 18-1 to win the R200,000 Grade 3 Betting World Jubilee Handicap over 1800m. The multiple Group-placed mare picked up her biggest career win at the expense of the revitalised Summerhill-bred star Pierre Jourdan, who looks set for a tilt at the Vodacom Durban July come 2 July.

The Gauteng feature race form continues to befuddle and confuse and one of only two members of the fairer sex in this event caught the boys napping as she sliced through the middle under De Kock’s feature race jack-in-a-box jockey Randall Simons. The flashy Drakenstein Stud-owned mare had not won since January 2010 but she stepped out here under a handy galloping weight and gave her opponents a hiding. One would think that she is destined for stud in a month or two and this Grade 3 event will certainly do her smashing pedigree no harm in the Sales catalogue pages. She is quite a looker too.

Pierre Jourdan ran a champagne race on the comeback trail and he was giving the De Kock mare 9,5 kgs when going down narrowly. He also showed a finger to the second run after a rest brigade. The Gary Alexander inmate’s fighting spirit was evident as he barged his way through a tight gap late and he certainly won’t be out of place in the Vodacom Durban July field where he will get his chance to silence his detractors for once and for all. He is set to carry 57,5kg if Past Master stays in and with a bit of luck and further progress in his health and fitness, he looks like a big runner. He certainly reserves his best efforts for jockey Derreck David and the Alexander gang may yet be booking that lunch table in the Durban View Room for Saturday 2 July.

The Jubilee Handicap form though may once again prove a little suspect as the first bunch finished right on top of one another. There were also a few dented reputations. Happy Landing blotted his copybook after an impressive Champions Challenge payday at the end of April, but it would have been 200m too short for him - even though he won the Drum Star Handicap over the 1800m trip, the Ormonde Ferraris trainedMagical ran on for third but was beaten without excuses. Galanthus jumped from the best of the draw but after showing toe, dropped out to nothing. The highly vaunted Geoff Woodruff Jet Master gelding, Soul Master, moved up threateningly but after winning three of his first five career outings, appears to have lost the plot and may be out of his depth at Group level.


Final Result















R Simons

Mike de Kock







D David

Gary Alexander







A Delpech

Ormond Ferraris







M Van Rensburg

Geoff Woodruff







* N Juglall

Weiho Marwing







F Coetzee

Geoff Woodruff







* JP van der Merwe

Mike Azzie







M Mienie

Sean Tarry







M Yeni

Joe Soma







* J Greyling

Geoff Woodruff







S Brown

Tyrone Zackey







S Khumalo

Joe Soma







* A Mgudlwa

Erico Verdonese







G Lerena

St John Gray

Late Scratching







A Marcus

Geoff Woodruff

Extract from Sporting Post