Horse racing is not always about the rich, famous and the best. Just as in any other sport, tactics, courage and a little luck make for riveting viewing, be it an Under 15 C schools rugby match or a lowly handicap on the Greyville poly.
Race riding is often a matter of split-second decisions, the best riders making the least mistakes. To add spice, there is often a little needle in the competition as was evident in the Durban View Restaurant Handicap yesterday.
In a race of muddling fractions, Warren Kennedy and title chasing Muzi Yeni had a right royal battle on the Glen Kotzen pair of Heart Of A Legend and Be Yourself, the more fancied of the two just prevailing under Kennedy.
With no pace on in the early fractions, Yeni slowed it down to a point where Kennedy was fighting an over keen Heart Of A Legend. But coming up the hill, Kennedy let loose and Heart Of A Legend, the brake released, strode clear to open up a clear lead on her rival.
With 25 starts under her girth, one would have expected Heart Of A Legend to have learnt the ropes. She took a good lead into the straight but started to run around when asked the question and Yeni looked to count coup as he set about cutting down the leeway.
50m out Be Yourself was up-sides Heart Of A Legend, looking all over a winner, but Kennedy regathered his mount and she stuck her head in front just when it counted.
Although nothing but a lowly handicap, it was a tactical battle to savour with two horses giving their all and two jockeys at the top of their game.
Dean Kannemeyer was reluctant to reveal any plans for Emerald Band after the gelding had held off a determined challenge from Justaguything in the card opener, but the red and white silks of Mike and Norma Rattray will be in the glare of the spotlight on Friday night when the recently acquired Rainbow Bridge takes his first step towards the Vodacom Durban July in The Independent On Saturday Drill Hall Stakes in a card littered with features, supported by a ‘no whips’ race and a 400m dash to round off the evening.
On a personal note, colleague Warren Lenferna took time off from his television presenting to lead in Marsanne in the Greyville Convention Centre Maiden.
At last year’s National Yearling Sales, the daughter of Mogok tried to take a piece out of Lenferna’s arm in the company of Dave MacLean. It was decided that the filly should be bought and she races in partnership with MacLean, Frank da Ascencao, Lenferna and trainer Duncan Howells.
Marsanne had a setback after a smart barrier trial but got it all together yesterday to win rather comfortably and the partnership could be in for a bit of fun.
By Andrew Harrison