Had there been racing 2 000 years ago the Good Lord might well have changed his famous ‘camel through the eye of a needle’ analogy to it being harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than for a trainer starting from scratch to get off the ground.
Yet ex-jockey and coffee machine businessman Piet Botha looks like making it. The Ossie Noach-ridden Tiger Roll at Kenilworth on Saturday was Botha’s second winner in as many meetings and his fourth since his first runner in September, and his numbers have increased from ten to 18.
“I own half of them so it is not that good,” he said modestly. “But people want to see results and things are now expanding a bit.”
Peter Wrensch, who took over the late Ronnie Sheehan’s horses ( there weren’t many) and had his first runners six months ago, is still at the nervous nought stage but half the racecourse was willing him on as Over Again headed for the line in the Interbet.co.za Handicap. Just when it looked as if he was going to hang on, the Richard Fourie-ridden Spirit Festival came with a wet sail to kick the legs from under the celebration table and the trainer in the teeth. Hopefully “Lester” won’t have to wait much longer for consolation.
The winner was the second leg of a quick Justin Snaith-Fourie double with Frank Lloyd Wright’s victory in the Tellytrack.com Handicap coming too late for Qatar Racing. There were big hopes for this horse and the encouragement that he would give the rulers of the oil-rich country to increase its investment in South African racing. But Qatar Racing is no longer involved and Etienne Braun now shares ownership with the gelding’s breeder Drakenstein.
Chris Snaith said: “The handicapper was brutal with this horse and he lost his form totally. He has now got to the stage where he is competitive again (he has come down 20 points) but it has taken a long, long time.”
More than an inch of rain turned the going to officially good-to-soft (“soft but even, ie soft throughout” was the opinion of the jockeys.). However it played havoc with the form and punters were left feeling like investors in the South Sea Bubble. Six favourites floundered and half the winners started at prices varying from 18-1 to 36-1.
The Candice Bass-Robinson-trained newcomer Arctic Drift was the rank outsider in the Tabonline Maiden Juvenile – “A great surprise,” said Mark Bass. “We chucked him into the race for a gallop.”
Anthony Andrews, who rode the gelding, was fined R1 500 for using his whip more than the permitted dozen – it was his third offence – and Bernard Fayd’Herbe paid the same penalty for the same thing when scoring on the Glen Kotzen-trained Miraculously Ours.
Randall Simons, who came down from Johannesburg at the request of Adam Marcus, doubled his Cape Town score with victories on two-year-old newcomers Late At Night and Templeton (Dean Kannemeyer).
The former carries the colours of Tony Millard patron Robert Ng and so has Hong Kong as his eventual destination. “I was pleasantly surprised even though he has done so well in the last four to six weeks,” said Brett Crawford. “He is going to keep progressing.”
Jabu Jacobs impressed when making all on the Andre Nel-trained Suite Francaise at 28-1 in the last. It was the apprentice’s second winner.
By Michael Clower