Blackball stakes his claim

PUBLISHED: 17 February 2020

Blackball (Candiese Lenferna)

Of all the racecourses in South Africa Hollywoodbets Scottsville has more nuances than nearly all put together. Some horses just don’t act, others are a few lengths better on the Midlands track. Two were in action yesterday – Blackball, five of his seven wins, and Ishnana, five out of six, are prime examples.

Gavin van Zyl will probably have been cursing his luck with the forced move from Hollywoodbets Scottsville to Hollywoodbets Greyville poly for the Michael Roberts Handicap, but the gelding, that races with a cornel collard to help his breathing, did well enough to finish a close-up fourth in that race.

Blackball (Candiese Lenferna)
Blackball (Candiese Lenferna)

There were no mistakes in the UmThombothi Stakes (Non-Black Type) yesterday as Raymond Danielson rounded off a profitable weekend, three winners at Turffontein on Saturday, and a double at Hollywoodbets Scottsville.

Blackball was off the pace for much of the early exchanges but down the straight it turned into a proper cavalry charge with almost the entire field spread across the track, Blackball getting the upper hand late to out-gun The Dazzler and stable companion and last year’s winner, Marchingontogether.

“He’s and old bugger and he knows what it’s all about,” said Danielson. “Once he got his head in front, he gave me another kick and it was race-over.”

Hit The Gas, not in the race until 7.30 this morning after the scratching of Oreo Black, caught punters off guard in the second. Lowan Denysschen with other plans for the weekend, had a fellow trainer saddle for him and was also caught unaware as apprentice Jason Gates produced the formless filly with a telling late flourish to collar favourite Blue Winter and win rather comfortably.

Gates rides plenty of work at Scottsville and was quick to call for the ride on the 55-1 shot. Gates is also not short on confidence. “I know this filly and I think her two best races were for me.”

“When I saw that she was in the race this morning I phoned Mr Denysschen. I knew she could turn it on but I was a bit shocked that she did it so easily.”

Hit The Gas my have lightened a few wallets but Sir Pom converted favouritism for Michael Roberts in the first. “He still didn’t know what he was doing, he was all over the place,” said Roberts. “He’s a nice little horse and I don’t think he will stop here.”

Williams Land did some early damage to the Pick 6 as Keagan de Melo got his mount to quicken past the long-time leader Maty O and chased home hard by News Stream.

 “He’s quite a funny horse. He has ability,” according to Dean Kannemeyer’s KZN assistant Nicolet Roscoe. “Sometimes he gets left, sometimes he jumps on terms. It makes is difficult and at home he has become a little difficult. We work him with a pony and he’s a little bit sensitive about his mouth. Today he jumped on terms and Keagan left him at the back and stayed off his mouth.”

Robert Smith is one of KZN’s stalwarts. A breeder, owner and trainer early in his career, he has handed over the training to Garth Puller who managed a sixth win for the Smith-bred Ishnana who Smith races in partnership with Howick antiques furniture restorer Thabo Mhlongo. Settled in off the pace per instruction by apprentice Jabu Jacobs, Ishnana, who had recorded four of his previous five wins over course and distance, finished with a rattle for his sixth success.

By Andrew Harrison