Keiko in swimming form

PUBLISHED: 19 September 2019

Keiko (Candiese Marnewick)

Summerveld trainer Frank Robinson had a triple triumph recently when the Mogok colt Keiko won a maiden as he bred, owns and trains him and he is hopeful this little horse has a bright future.

He put Keiko in a barrier trial on the Greyville poly at the beginning of the season and said Warren Kennedy had got off and said he had given him the feel of a top horse. 

His mother Sheikina (The Sheik) won over 2500m so his instructions to Luke Ferraris on his debut over 1000m on the poly was to drop him out. He was duly outpaced and turned for home tailed off.

Keiko (Candiese Marnewick)
Keiko (Candiese Marnewick)

Robinson said, “He ran the last 400m in 22,2 seconds and made up an unbelievable amount of ground.”

Robinson then put him in a 1600m event on the poly with the intention of building him up to his right trip of 2000m and beyond.

He said, “I had only cantered him at home into this race and he was drawn 12 out of 12. But he pinged the gate and sat in sixth one off the fence and ran on to win.”

He continued, “He could be anything. He is still a baby and has not actually turned three yet so will have a lot of growth from now until January. I will run him two or three times until then but only if I find nice races.”

Stayers are usually big horses, but Robinson said, “It is the amount of ground they cover that counts. As they say horses don’t run up, they run forwards. It is not the size that matters, it is the size of the heart.”

Robinson recalled Teal, the Durban July winner who was of pony size.

He added Keiko was similar in conformation to the small but strongly built English staying sensation Stradivarius.

Just about every winner has a heartwarming story behind him or her and Keiko is no exception.

Robinson trained his dam Sheikina and described her as an “ATM” as she had four seconds and a third in the maidens before going on to win twice.

However, what impressed him most about her was the size of her girth.

He said, “She had one of the biggest girths and barrels I have seen. This often points to a good producer, so I thought she would make a good broodmare.”

Robinson sent her to Mogok, not surprisingly, as among this successful sire’s progeny was Orbison, who won the Grade 1 Champions Cup for Herman Brown Jnr in the days Robinson was the latter’s assistant trainer. 

He continued, “The first foal of many mares is tiny and this was the case with Sheikina’s first foal Tinkle.”

She was unplaced a number of times and Robinson has given her away as a riding pony.

Keiko, also by Mogok, was her second foal.

Animal-loving Robinson, who has a menagerie of dogs, cats and birds, named him after the famous Orca, Keiko, who starred in the Free Willy movies and who after his release into the wild preferred swimming with children in the fjords of Norway rather than with his own kind.  

Adding to the anticipation after Keiko’s early promise is that Sheikina has three more racehorses on the way. On the ground she has a Mogok two-year-old and a “magnificent yearling” by the former Herman Brown Jnr-trained Linngari. She is in foal to the stallion who matched her best, Mambo In Seattle, as this give a 4×4 cross to the blue hen mare Lassie Dear.

Robinson also has high hopes for the David Ferarris-owned Var gelding Avro Lancaster, who ran in a barrier trial at Greyville yesterday. 

By David Thiselton