On 20 June 2019, Bjorn Nielsen’s homebred Stradivarius galloped to victory in the Ascot Gold Cup. The sun was out, it was Frankie Dettori’s fourth win on the card, it was even money favourite Stradivarius’ second consecutive Gold Cup victory and the Ascot crowd rightly lifted the grandstand roof.
To European racegoers of a certain age, there was only ever going to be one contender for the title of the greatest trainer of all time: O’Brien of Ballydoyle. The past couple of decades have caused many to reassess their opinion as a challenger has emerged: O’Brien of Ballydoyle. In one sense, Vincent O’Brien’s achievements will never be surpassed. He created the Ballydoyle empire from scratch, re-shaping the international racing landscape through the 1950s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s after having sent out multiple winners of the great jumps races in the post-war years—the Grand National, Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle.
The Ato gelding Chijmes confirmed again that he is no slouch when leading all the way to win the R150,000 Listed Sea Cottage Stakes at Turffontein on Sunday to give claiming apprentice Denis Schwarz his first feature success.
The end of the year means it is awards season and the decision to present breeder Mick Goss with a lifetime achievement award at the 2018 KwaZulu-Natal awards will be applauded throughout the racing industry.
A survey of racing success as a factor of how much money you spend was recently undertaken in Australia. While its outcomes were “Aussie” specific, it’s probably fair to say, they’re likely to have universal application wherever horse racing is conducted as a serious commercial pursuit. The answer, rest assured, is that the more money you spend, the more success you will have. The only problem is that the spending/success relationship is not a linear one.
When it comes to SA training legends names which spring to mind are Syd Laird, Terrance Millard and Mike de Kock. Close behind are Pat Shaw and Jean Heming. Sadly, Heming passed away in the UK last week at the age of 78.
Shaw, who won the 1995 Durban July with Teal and went on to become champion trainer in Singapore, is back in SA where his opinion on all racing matters will be closely followed.