Garth Puller leads the KZN trainer’s championship at this early stage of the season.
He said whilst he was always striving to improve and build his clientele he was realistic enough to admit he did not have the firepower yet to hang on to this lead.
He said, “We usually have a good run at the beginning of the season but I know how these things change and we don’t have the top horses to compete with the big yards in the Champions Season.”
The former jockey great has 68 horses at present although a lot of them are youngsters.
He has had 15 winners this season from 100 runners, so his strike rate is 15%.
Among the promising ones is the three-year-old Gimmethegreenlight filly Travelling Light, who won by 4,80 lengths on debut last season before finishing unplaced in the Grade 1 Allan Robertson Championship. She has had two starts since in a handicap over 1000m at Hollywoodbets Greyville for a narrow second and a win in a Graduation Plate over that same course and distance. Her merit rating is 99. She is currently resting on the farm after being given her African Horse Sickness vaccinations.
Puller said, “She is very fast and will be back in training in three weeks’ time.”
Puller’s long-striding four-year-old Jackson gelding Jack Of Hearts has won his last two starts over 1950m and 2200m respectively. The Jacksons are starting to shine throughout the country and Puller rates Jack Of Hearts “an improving stayer.”
His promising three-year-old colts Bay Tibbs (Bold Silvano) and Brass Bell (Pathfork) are both owned by Hong Kong residents and Puller expected them to soon be on their way overseas to David Ferraris’s yard.
Puller is hard working and arrives at Summerveld at 20 to four every morning and only leaves at half-past six in the evening.
He was known as a fine horseman during his riding years so it is not surprising he has become a good trainer.
Meanwhile, the nine times KZN champion trainer Dennis Drier is currently lacking in big race firepower and will only be sending a “low key” string down for the Cape Summer Of Champions season this year.
Drier is sure to make a bold bid for a tenth KZN championship, although he is currently only in fourth place with nine winners gained at a strike rate of 10,59%.
Dennis Bosch and Gavin Van Zyl are in joint second place on eleven winners apiece, achieved at a strike rate of 18,97% and 17,19% respectively.
Johan Janse van Vuuren is in joint-fourth place with Drier on nine winners.
Former KZN champion trainer Duncan Howells is in a rebuilding phase following the departure of his chief owner Dave McLean, but he has still managed to send out seven winners this season to put him in joint sixth place on the KZN log together with Alyson Wright.
Next on the log with six winners each are Tony Rivalland, Kumaran Naidoo, Dean Kannemeyer and Brett Crawford.
Drier and Howells have dominated the KZN championship over the last few years.
However, this season it looks to be more open, although Drier is still the overwhelming favourite to win it.
By David Thiselton