Deacon recalls Big City Life’s July win
PUBLISHED: June 25, 2019
Raymond described the build-up of “unbelievable pressure” as a seemingly unattainable dream came within grasping distance…
One of racing’s great characters Raymond Deacon recalled yesterday the moment ten years ago he believed his Glen Kotzen-trained horse Big City Life was going to win the Vodacom Durban July and described a feeling of being in a dream bubble as he charged like a rugby player through a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd for the winner’s enclosure.
His wife Paula turned to daughter Lois and said, “What’s Dad doing, what’s happening?!”
Lois replied, “I think we’ve just won the July!”
Big City life had come into the July off the back of victories in the KRA Guineas and the Daily News 2000, having also won the Investec Cape Derby on J&B Met day.
Raymond described the build-up of “unbelievable pressure” as a seemingly unattainable dream came within grasping distance.
He recalled, “It suddenly all gets released, I can’t think of a better drug, it is just an amazing release of joy. It is probably why we still do our pensions on this game. I could hardly see the horses through the crowd as they went past, but earlier when he hit the front I felt almost as if the script had already been written and there was no way he could lose. I have never had a feeling like it. It all happened in slow motion, I can’t remember any noise, it was like being in a dream where you knew the end result.”
Raymond always watches races at Greyville from the bottom step of the grandstand opposite the finish line as this was where his late father Maynard watched from.
He reckoned he reached the short distance to the winner’s enclosure almost before Big City Life had crossed the line and was thankful Gold Circle’s media relations manager Gill Mostert (nee Simpkins) was on hand to tell some irate members of the public he had just won the July. Their irritation turned to cheers and they helped him over the winner’s enclosure railings.
Raymond said, “I would have looked a right royal idiot if he had not won, we often joke about it, although I would also have been happy with second.”
The memory of the victory is ever present in the Deacon home through a painting and all sorts of memorabilia.
Raymond said, “The only thing I haven’t got from that day is my phone!”
He lost his cellphone during the mayhem that followed the win so was unable to field the myriad of congratulatory messages.
One thing which struck Raymond later was, for the only time in his on-course ownership career, he did not lead his winner in.
He recalled, “I was too busy hugging Frikkie (Greyling – assistant trainer at the time to Glen Kotzen) and the groom.”
Upon receiving the winner’s sash Raymond entertained the crowd with an impromptu dance.
He said, “I don’t even remember doing it but have seen the footage and hope I am capable of dancing better than that! It is hard to explain but the emotion grabbed me and it just felt right.”
He also remembers, upon leaving the winner’s enclosure, a punter grabbing him and throwing him in the air. It was the excited man’s way of thanking Raymond as he had just won the July quartet, which paid a massive amount because 11/2 chance Big City Life was followed home by 55/1, 100/1 and 70/1 shots respectively.
Raymond continued, “One of my best recollections of the day was when Patrick Loker and Gill took us through to the Classic Room and showed us Big City Life’s colours displayed on the wall alongside all the other famous silks which have won the race. That’s when I knew it wasn’t a dream and had really happened.”
Raymond inherited the purple and white colours from his father.
The Chairman’s Dinner, a traditional function in those days on the Monday evening after the July, was also memorable and Raymond said he definitely felt the presence of his father that night.
He said, “It was a glamorous, old fashioned occasion and that is the way my Dad used to race, in a formal suit for every meeting. They also had a band come and sing the popular hit song after which Big City Life was named which was special and so were the 400 drinks, everybody wanted to buy us a drink!”
One of the joint-owners was Raymond’s cousin Glen Mitchell. As youngsters they used to sneak on to the course at Clairwood and help Raymond’s grandfather Reg Deacon in his role as the numbers board operator.
The Big City Life story is of course tinged with sadness.
He brought more joy by finishing third in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and then winning the Rising Sun Gold Challenge at Clairwood.
However, after the latter race he pulled a tendon during a workout at Summerveld.
He was laid off for almost a year but was able to line up for the 2011 July. He finished a gallant sixth but took a bad step after the line and broke down.
He had to be euthanased on course.
Raymond said, “That memory is why July day is never a good day for me, I will find it hard to go to the July unless I have a runner, so instead watch it on TV.”
Big City Life’s place of honour at Summerveld is kept neat and tidy by the connections and visited perennially.
Raymond said, “He will never be out of our lives and before this year’s July we will visit his grave with Glen and have a glass of champagne.”
Raymond is planning a big July function at his holiday cottage in Port Edward for this year’s big race and said, “It is a hot field, wow, but the only thing that matters to me is they all come home safely.”
He concluded, “Even if The Sheik wins he will be excited!”
By David Thiselton
Image: Raymond Deacon wears the blue Vodacom Durban July sash in the winner’s enclosure after his horse Big City Life had won the country’s premier race in 2009. He will be supporting the Glen Kotzen-trained Eyes Wide Open in this year’s race and any horse Big City Life’s July-winning jockey Greg Cheyne rides.
Photographer: John Lewis
The Highveld Hawks to defend their title
PUBLISHED: June 25, 2019
Last year’s Hawks team of Muzi Yeni (captain), Craig Zackey, Ryan Munger and Raymond Danielson (in for the injured Lyle Hewitson) amassed 146 points…
The popular New Turf Carriers Inter-Provincial Rider Cup is scheduled for Sunday, July 21, at Greyville.
The Highveld Hawks defended their New Turf title last year and will be out for three-on-the-bounce.
Last year’s Hawks team of Muzi Yeni (captain), Craig Zackey, Ryan Munger and Raymond Danielson (subbed in for the injured Lyle Hewitson) amassed 146 points to the Cape Eagles total of 137 and the KwaZulu-Natal Falcons 127.
The Victor Laudorum prize for the leading individual jockey went to Aldo Domeyer of the Eagles.
The teams are chosen from the top three riders on the national log in each province with the fourth member of each team being decided by the captain.
Based on the NHA’s National Stats at May 31, the following would be the makeup of the teams for the 2019 Rider Cup.
L Hewitson (Captain)
+ Captain’s Pick
G Cheyne (Captain)
+ Captain’s Pick
K de Melo
+ Captain’s Pick
Under the competition rules, winning rides collected 20 points for a team, second places 16 points, thirds 14 – on a descending scale over the 12 runners, with last place garnering a single point.
As winning team member last year Munger said: “It’s a great initiative, with everyone trying really hard – right down to last place.”
By Andrew Harrison
Jockey’s title at stake
PUBLISHED: June 25, 2019
The tireless Yeni is not far short of 1 600 rides so far this term and Hewitson (who missed the early part of the season) has ridden in some 1 325 races…
Lyle Hewitson and Muzi Yeni take their title fight to Kenilworth today with Yeni on 185 and leading the current champion by one after yesterday’s Flamingo Park treble.
Four-time champion Anton Marcus takes the day off but, with 180 on the board and an infinitely better strike rate, his shadow looms ominously over the other two.
The tireless Yeni is not far short of 1 600 rides so far this term and Hewitson (who missed the early part of the season) has ridden in some 1 325 races. Marcus, an astute judge of form who picks his rides accordingly, has had just over 600 rides.
Hewitson rides in all eight races today and, according to the bookmakers at least, he has the stronger hand with one favourite (Russet Air), a joint favourite (Lesedi La Rona) and a second favourite whereas Yeni, with five rides, partners favourite Stormin Norman in the first and one joint second favourite.
Stormin Norman does not have much to spare over Matchless Captain (who disappointed last time, possibly because he got worked up down at the pens) and Fighter but Joey Ramsden is fitting blinkers and that may just swing the balance.
Fortunately the ground will not be as soft as it was on Saturday when the change in going cost punters dear but there will be a bit more give in it than at earlier meetings so backers need to tread carefully.
Lesedi La Rona is 33-10 joint favourite with stable companion Crowded House and Vaughan Marshall’s Charge D’Affaires for the Play Soccer 6 Pinnacle but she was beaten nearly 11 lengths in the Olympic Duel and over six in the Sweet Chestnut on her previous start. Candice Bass-Robinson is fitting blinkers and a tongue tie in a bid to get her back to her best.
Glen Kotzen is responsible for three of the six runners and his trio come out best on adjusted ratings. However they have all been off since January and February. Crowded House is, theoretically at least, the worst in at the weights but she has good recent form and has won with give in the ground so she gets the vote.
Hewitson has a good chance on 9-2 chance Indian Song for the Bass-Robinson stable in the Tellytrack.com Handicap but the Snaiths have a high opinion of Sleeping Single. True, she has gone up three points for last time’s win – and it was only by half a length – and she has not raced on anything softer than good but the 33-10 favourite is a name to note and hopefully she can make it three on the bounce here.
By Michael Clower
Setback for Captain Of Stealth
PUBLISHED: June 25, 2019
Vaughan Marshall said: ”He has had a bit of a setback. He wrapped himself below the joint and just above the coronet… hopefully it is not serious”…
The unbeaten Captain Of Stealth, odds-on for the Langerman at Kenilworth on Saturday, was a shock absentee from yesterday’s declarations for the two-year-old Grade 3.
Vaughan Marshall said: ”He has had a bit of a setback. He wrapped himself below the joint and just above the coronet. John McVeigh says that he has only seen one case similar to this. We are waiting for the scan results but hopefully it is not serious.”
The stable has won the 1 500m race in the past two seasons with subsequent Cape Guineas winner Tap O’Noth and One World. It will be represented this time by Silver Operator (M.J. Byleveld) and Path Of Choice (Sandile Mbhele). The former looked something special when storming home three and a half lengths clear on debut earlier this month and he was odds-on at 0.85-1 when Track And Ball put up it prices yesterday afternoon.
There are 11 declared for the Winter Derby on the same card making it the first time in four years that the race will be in double figures. Majestic Mozart and Herodotus, third and fourth in the Winter Classic, would appear to dominate the race on ratings but the East Cape Derby winner St Vladimir joins them in the betting. T & B make them all joint favourite at 2.85-1. Helen’s Ideal is 18-10 favourite to complete a clean sweep of the fillies winter series in the Winter Oaks.
Marinaresco, the 2017 Vodacom Durban July winner, has been moved from Dubai to Singapore and is temporarily on the sidelines.
Marsh Shirtliff, in whose famous colours the now six-year-old races, said: “He recently had a minor op – a chip taken out of his near-fore knee – but we hope to race him again in about four months and he will then go for staying races. Ricardo Legrange, a protégé of Pat Shaw, is to train him. He will stay in Singapore but, when we retire him, we may bring him back to South Africa.”
Pretty Young Thing, who won the finale at Kenilworth last Wednesday with scarcely believable ease, is to run again quite soon.
Brett Crawford said: “She has definitely improved and I will probably give her one more run during the winter. It will be in the next three weeks and we will see how she gets on in her first race out of the maidens. We will then put her away.”
Ridgemont’s Jackson filly with the Australian pedigree had finished second on her first two starts at Durbanville but last Wednesday’s run was in a different league. She came right away in the straight and, even though Anton Marcus let her ease down in the closing stages, she still won by three lengths and, in the words of commentator Jehan Malherbe, “She could have won by a dozen.”
By Michael Clower
Kenilworth Tuesday Tips and Race Previews
PUBLISHED: June 25, 2019
Kenilworth Tuesday June 25 Tips and Race Previews by Warren Lenferna…
Kenilworth Tuesday Tips and Race Previews by Warren Lenferna
Preview: FIGHTER (4) has run two fair races thus far and can improve now to go close to winning. Jockey Bernard Faydherbe has been booked for the ride. STORMIN NORMAN (8) has strong each way claims and BENICARLO (2) could do well first time at school today. (Warren Lenferna 4-8-2)
Preview: ESSENCEOFLIFE (3) is consistent and has finished second in her last two – she is overdue her next career win and is the firm first choice here. CROWDED HOUSE (6) and CHARGE D’ AFFAIRES (5) look set to fight it out for the minor positions. (Warren Lenferna 3-6-5)
Preview: ATHALIA (2) was far from disgraced on debut finishing 7th of 15 runners. She can improve to go close and has therefore been given each way claims and made the narrow first choice. DUCHESS OF STATE (5) is beautifully bred and not green and finding this 1200m trip too short should be concerned in the finish – respect. GLOAMING (6) could be worth including in the quartet. (Warren Lenferna 2-5-6)
Preview: MACTHIEF (10) charged home late on debut and should now be much wiser for the run. He should relish the extra distance and looks hard to beat. PACIFIC RIM (11) and ROCK THE NIGHT (12) can both improve a lot on their debut efforts to finish much closer. SALT (2) has obvious claims and should win soon. (Warren Lenferna 10-11-12)
Preview: The two year olds could have the upper hand here! SIR MICHAEL (12) walked out the pens last time and arrived late on the scene – it was a top class effort – today he gets 1400m and a good draw – they might battle to beat him here. CANE LIME ‘N SODA (7) is another that can improve a lot to get much closer over the extra trip and is the exacta choice. CELTIC VOYAGER (8) is a must for the quartet. (Warren Lenferna 12-7-8)
Preview: SLEEPING SINGLE (2) has won her last two well and can reel off the hat trick. FAYE (8) is holding her form and as always has strong each way claims and VODKA LIME (1) is seldom far off the action and could be the place value in the race. (Warren Lenferna 2-8-1)
Preview: RUSSET AIR (4) has solid form and gets the services of Lyle Hewitson – she looks to be the right one in the race and is tipped to go one better. WHAT A WINNER (5) won last time and must be respected again and VINCENTE (3) is seldom far off the action and one of these days will find himself in the number one box again. (Warren Lenferna 4-5-3)
Preview: RED RASCAL (2) is holding his form well and is the first pick for Adam Marcus and Craig Zackey. TROJAN WINTER (6) has a deep draw to deal with but is running very well and it would be no shock if he were to end up winning. APOLLO ACE (1) is much better than his last run and is a natural inclusion in the trifecta and quartet. (Warren Lenferna 2-6-1)