Corrie Lensley ran 18 horses at Flamingo Park on Monday but at next week’s Kimberley fixture he will have only one runner –“and then that’s me finished up there. I am closing the yard completely and concentrating on Cape Town.”
It was originally expected that he would keep the Kimberley operation going. But he has had second thoughts – “If you are not there all the time you will get mistakes.”
His decision to open a yard at Milnerton – even given the uncertainty about the future of Flamingo Park – caused some surprise among the locals, not least because the standard of horses running in Cape Town is as high – some would say higher – as anywhere in the country and that in Kimberley is the lowest.
But Lensley, 56 and christened Cornelius, is under no illusions. “It’s top yards here and you have to have the stock to race against them. I have 22 horses at the moment but only 13 of them came with me. The others were already here – babies on the farms and two that we bought ready-made. I am fortunate in that I have a very good owner, Suzette Viljoen, who has bought some really nice horses.”
But why did he come? Kimberley is to stay open, is it not? Lensley, a big man with glasses, doesn’t hesitate. “You see, when it was announced last year that Kimberley was to close the guys from Kenilworth Racing were good enough to offer me stables. That decided me and, when things changed (Kimberley to stay open), I felt I couldn’t kick them in the teeth by turning round and saying I wasn’t coming.”
And his aims and ambitions? “The first thing is to train a winner in Cape Town, and after that to get as many as I can.”
It might be a mistake to underestimate his abilities. After all he has amassed a lifetime’s experience, has been champion Northern Cape trainer twice in the last four seasons and he went into last Monday’s meeting heading the log. He also sent out a big race winner at Turffontein from there – King’s Temptress who won the 2012 SA Fillies Nursery at 150-1 on debut.
By Michael Clower