Being a ‘small’ trainer doesn’t necessary mean that you don’t know your way around a racehorse. There is often a simple reason behind the empty boxes in the yard, and quite often it boils down to personality. There are plenty of moderate trainers with full yards, but what they mostly have in common is the gift of the gab.
Gary Rich has been around horses all of his life, his father Des one of the best trainers of his era, his most famous victory being Lightning Shot in the Durban July – before the advent of cell phones.
So Rich is no mug when it comes to horses, his main fault – if you can call it a fault – being that he is a bit slow in coming forward. With owners at a premium these days it is a character trait that tends to see him overlooked in favour of the louder and more high profile. But give him a horse with some ability and he’s as good as any.
The filly Connect Me is a case in point as she got home at Scottsville yesterday under a tremendous ride from Stuart Randolph.
A narrow winner over course and distance at her previous start, she looked to have pulled a coffin draw on the extreme outside of the 15-horse field and was hence easy to back at 14-1. Those odds looked decidedly skinny as Randolph rousted her along four wide up the back straight. Prospects didn’t look much better heading for home with her rider still pumping away and Song Of The Forest seemingly singing the right tune.
But when all got tired, Connect Me kept on relentlessly to run them out of it.
Horses can be difficult to fathom, the worst are what as know in the trade as ‘morning glories’ – horses that show any amount of ability on the training track but run below expectations when in a race proper.
First race winner Candy Apple is a recent example. The stipendiary stewards had him tagged after a particularly disappointing second start but Duncan Howells had always rated the colt and was equally puzzled when Candy Apple trailed home, beaten seven lengths.
Given that showing he was relatively easy to back yesterday but after tucking him in behind early, Bernard Fayde’herbe switched the colt clear and let him loose two furlongs out; the race was over in a matter of strides.
J&B Met winning trainer Yogas Govender was once master of the powerful Plattner Racing yard in Cape Town but since going it alone and moving to KZN he has found things a lot more difficult. But like Rich, give him a horse with some ability and he will get it to perform as Deer Park showed in Track & Ball Gaming Maiden Juvenile Plate.
Alert punters will have picked up the connecting thread between Deer Park and Candy Apple, the common denominator Master Of Illusion. The step up to a mile was just what the doctor ordered and the son of Bold Silvano finished too strongly for hot favourite Knight Warrior.
In stark contrast to Gary Rich and Yogas Govender, Brett Crawford has a conveyer belt of good horses and with Peter Muscutt his able assistant in KZN his horses are always to be reckoned with.
There is not too much to GG’s Dynasty in stature but he is game as the three-year-old finished with a rattle under Corne Orffer to edge out his older rivals Tommy Grand and favourite Collabro.
Lyle Hewitson’s bid for a second national jockey’s title is on the back burner as he cried off all of his mounts yesterday – kidney stones are an extremely painful malady.
By Andrew Harrison