Ramsden’s final VDJ

PUBLISHED: 02 July 2019

This looks like being Joey Ramsden’s final Vodacom Durban July with next year’s race seeing him watching it on TV from Singapore.

“We are definitely going and we are looking to open up there in October or November,” he says. “It depends when all the paperwork goes through.”

“Also I am waiting to see what happens with the export protocol. I am hearing lots of good things about this so I could wait for a few months, certainly until Christmas. But I am not going to wait for ever. If there is no action, and it proves to be a lot of bollocks, then we close up here before Christmas.”

Joey Ramsden (Nkosi Hlophe)
Joey Ramsden

There has been talk on the local grapevine that Ramsden will keep a satellite yard here, with the anticipated opening up of the protocol playing a big part in the way he runs (and fills) the Singapore operation. “I can’t answer for what the future might be,” he says when this is put to him.

Ramsden is speaking in his second floor box at Kenilworth last Saturday. His July prospects are the intended subject of the interview. “Twist of Fate?” he repeats the question. “He is doing good, doing brilliant in fact. He has worked very well.”

So what chance does he give the 12-1 shot on Saturday? “Not as good a chance as I gave him before last Tuesday,” is the immediate and unsmiling reply. His disgust at being landed with a 17 draw was pretty evident at the Gateway function and seemingly nothing has changed since.

“The trouble is that you are not in charge of your own destiny with a draw like that,” he explains. “If those drawn low decide not to make use of their draws then you have got a chance. But, if they do take advantage, your outside draw automatically becomes a huge handicap.”

The Conglomerate was drawn 20 and started at 20-1 when he won for Ramsden three years ago – an occasion that the trainer described at the time as “the best day of my life”. Had Ramsden given him much chance considering the draw? ”Yea, I did,” he recalls. “You always go there with a bit of hope.”

So what chance does he give Fresnaye? Better than the current 80-1?  “She is probably back to her right trip. The July is a rough race and I have the human bowling ball Greg Cheyne on top so I have got the right man.”

I’m not sure that Cheyne (in the art of jockeyship something of a craftsman) will appreciate the bowling ball analogy but what Ramsden probably means is that, if there is any argy-bargy, Cheyne is more than  capable of holding his own.

Is it always a rough race? “Always,” is the unhesitating reply. “People are invariably trying to get in from the outside and the fellow in front is usually easing back so there is a terrible concertina effect – and, if you get involved in the middle of the bait ball and you are going no pace, then you are in trouble.”

Bait ball? “Have you never watched National Geographic?” Ramsden makes the omission sound as if you have never heard of sliced bread. “Let me educate you.” He takes out his phone, goes into Google and comes up with a picture of a huge ball of sardines trying to protect themselves against hungry dolphins. Not quite like the July but you get the message.

The Mauritian-owned Twist Of Fate will be the third July ride for Nooresh Juglall but Cheyne, successful on Big City Life in 2009, is an old hand. He rode in the great race for the first time back in 1996 (London News’ year) on the Mike de Kock-trained Stride Head on whom he had already won the Greyville 1900.

By Michael Clower