Horse racing is a sport of incredible highs but mostly lows. For owners the highs are intoxicating but the lows take faith, patience and quite often deep pockets, and sometimes even that is not enough!
But when it all comes together the sport is even more rewarding as Lynn and Garth Towell celebrated a second win as Before Noon carried Lynn’s royal blue and grey silks to victory in the sixth at Hollywoodbets Scottsville yesterday.
A buy-back on a dispersal sale, Sean Tarry recommended the gelding to the Towell’s. “About ten days later Sean phoned and said ‘I don’t know how to tell you this but your horse fractured a hind leg in work’,” recounted Garth yesterday.
“He fractured a left hind leg in about January last year but Sean had it x-rayed and the vet said he thought the horse had a chance.”
“He was sent to Karen Eekman in Kyalami for re-hab. Karen spells a lot of Sean’s horses and I must thank both Karen and Sean for their dedication and care,” said Garth.
The faith, patience and not inconsiderable expense all paid dividends as after a year off, Before Noon made it back to the track in February. He won at his third comeback race at Greyville and had placed three times more before adding another winner to champion jockey Lyle Hewitson’s growing total in his title defence.
With a double yesterday, both for Tarry, Hewitson extended his lead in his title chase and has now racked up 205 winners so far. Nearest rival Muzi Yeni picked up one winner yesterday to take his total to 196. With three weeks of the season left, Hewitson is odds-on to retain the title that he won as an apprentice last year and will head to Hong Kong safe in the knowledge that if all goes pear-shaped in the notoriously hard school that is Hong Kong, he can always return to a safe haven.
Tarry has played no small part in Hewitson’s success, having picked up on the youngster’s talent when champion work rider and it was again on display as Hewitson got favourite Shango home from a testing draw to win the fourth. Tarry obviously has high hopes for Shango who is amongst his nominations for the Gr1 Premier’s Champion Stakes at the end of this month along with last Saturday’s Gr2 Golden Horseshoe winner Eden Roc.
Hewitson was thwarted in his bid for a treble as another young gun, Luke Ferraris, got the better of him in the last. Riding for Michael Roberts, Ferraris got Winter Sun’s head down on the line to edge out Wishful Girl Linn with favourite Innogen under pressure a long way out.
Garth Puller was one of the finest ever to grace a racing dock and is also a fine horseman and trainer. Given his background he also knows the struggles that all participants in a tough sport face and is not averse to giving jockey’s chances. Athandiwe Mgudlwa is one of the fortunate few riders that does not have to battle the scale and Puller regards him as ‘under rated’. “He just needs to get his confidence back,” he said after Mgudlwa had got home on Simply Russian for Puller in the third. The race before he had finished runner-up on Puller’s short-priced favourite Winter Chill where he had to play second fiddle to the R40k purchase Candle Cove that gave Yeni his winner for the afternoon for Frank Robinson.
Robinson had favourite World Cruise in the fifth but was not overly confident of his chances. In the money at his last five outings, World Cruise looked the right one in the 2400m contest but, “he’s a bit of a brass,” cautioned Robinson. “He’s always trying to get out of it.”
Whether he could have beaten the Puller-trained Belle Of Paris is debateable as apprentice Jabu Jacobs took full advantage of his 4kg claim and the filly made short work of her male rival.
By Andrew Harrison