Peggson Should Go Very Close

Borrowdale Park veteran, Peggson, again carries top weight in the 1800m National Foods Plate due to be run on Sunday October 24, and all being well could record his 10th victory.

Six of Sunday’s runners finished in the first seven in the 1800m OK Grand Challenge on June 5.  The OK was won by Finchatton, followed by Peggson, Holy Land, Fareeq (not in this race on Sunday), Three To Tango, Yarraman and Wantage.

All finished within 3.75 lengths of Finchatton. Mr Greenlight was also in the line-up that day but was 8.95 lengths behind.

Although Finchatton can be expected to perform well this Sunday, on paper, he has a bit more to do. On June 5 he was receiving 3.5 kgs from Peggson (only half-a-length back) but on Sunday this weight advantage will be cut to 2 kgs. Holy Land, third in the OK Grand Challenge, was receiving 7 kgs from Peggson. On Sunday he will heft 56 kgs, to Peggson’s 60, and although Holy Land has been enjoying a purple patch, he is back with the big boys here.

Wantage, could be cheeky, as he will be 1.5 kgs better off with stablemate Peggson .

HOWEVER, let’s not forget that in the OK Grand Challenge Peggson lost lengths at the start and, providing this has not become habitual, he should be home and dry.  

Without doubt Sunday’s field is competitive, and there may be a change in the going as at the time of writing there has been some rain.  

Photograph by Laurent Viguie – 400m out in the 2021 OK Grand Challenge.

Mashonaland Turf Club – On Course – Flat And Hurdles

Borrowdale Park is a very special place, steeped in history, glory, tragedy, noise, laughter, tears, heroes, villains and characters. It is the home of Mashonaland Turf Club.

For me it is one of the best racecourses in the world – and I have raced at quite a few – and it has been the crucible in which many lasting friendships have been forged. It is a very special place indeed.

In recent years the MTC has been dogged by a series of viability difficulties – as have many comparable clubs in Southern Africa. Successive Boards of Stewards – usually made up of the highly capable captains of commerce and industry – have done their very best to steady the ship with varying degrees of success.

That we are still racing today is testament to all those efforts because the Chairman and his Board of Stewards have survival as their core objective. Everything else might be important but can only be secondary to survival.

Central to the efforts of the Board has been the support and generosity of a phalanx of benefactors – they know who they are – but we are all very grateful to them and for the faith they have placed in the Board of Stewards. And it is important to stress that some of these benefactors are in fact serial benefactors. These individuals have provided the financial support needed to allow the Board sufficient time to restructure the club, and to forge a self-sufficient entity which will see the MTC continue racing in perpetuity.

Over the past three years some good things have been achieved – but at the same time, there are elements remaining which are far from satisfactory.

To survive and prosper, every business needs to balance the books, and this has been the core of Board strategy.

BETTING

Whilst you can have an argument about a number of moves made, for me it is clear that the MTC simply has not had the resources to manage anything other than the club itself for some time. In this regard, for example, I mention the string of betting outlets across the country. The MTC should have had the ability to run this business unit, as gambling is technically a very profitable area of racing – as Moors World of Sport is demonstrating – but it didn’t. It was before my time as a Steward, but my guess is that we managed to lose money, lots of money in this function and thus it was right to ditch it and find a different angle back into the gambling potential. More news of that in a future column.

Whilst we all know that racing is rarely a profitable business, the idea that owners would accept lower purses came as a big surprise to all. But cost cutting had to include lower prize money. Having said that, I would contend that the economics of owning racehorses in Zimbabwe are still better than anywhere else in the world – scroll through my previous columns to find the maths which prove this.

I will list other cost cutting successes in future columns

REVENUE

As cost cutting efforts were being driven, so too were, and are, efforts to enhance revenue streams. Central to this work is the repurposing of the club’s fixed and intangible assets. As is evident, many retail outlets are now to be found around the stands, all paying rents into the club’s coffers. It is also evident that many advertising hoardings are displaying posters – and paying the club site fees. With our return to the screens of Tellytrack, such opportunities can only become much more valuable. 

For me, the repurposing of our very considerable facilities holds much potential for the future viability of the club – again, more to follow in future columns.

So, there we are, a few of the good steps which have been taken in recent years.

But there are still areas which are less than satisfactory. For example, Admin and PR. I am not going to go into the detail of these things, suffice to say that I am strongly on the case and have the full support of my fellow Stewards in tackling these important secondary objectives.  

With regard to Public Relations, I would say that I am doing my best to keep members informed either through this column or through specific WhatsApp groups. I would also say that I am available to hear any representations from interested parties on any subject – and to this end, I have held many meetings in the past months. Moreover, if anyone has a particular issue, they can write to me on cjohnsmith1@aol.com – but in addition to the issue you wish to raise, I would require to be given one or more solutions to that issue. I am not an “agony aunt” – nor do I want to hear of these issues on race day – such days are for fun only.

Overall, I can report that the efforts of the Board of Stewards are taking the club in the right direction and – as might be expected – whilst we may not always see eye to eye with each other, I do believe we have a common cause – survival, then prosperity – and that is all that matters.

Finally, I would ask all MTC members to make sure they bring their annual subs with them on Sunday 24th October – prompt payment of a modest $150 per annum will help us at many levels.

C John Smith, aka The Centaurian, posts regularly on this site… this time he writes as an MTC Steward.

Figures Boffin – Shrewd Punter – Family Man

Peter Cawood, a former chairman of the Mashonaland Turf Club, kept a low profile but achieved a great deal.

He died peacefully in Harare on Thursday after a long illness, bravely borne, and will be sorely missed by friends and colleagues. Paul Rugg, who succeeded Mr Cawood in 2009 as MTC chairman, said, “Peter Cawood was an amazing and intelligent gentleman. He loved to have a bet and knew everything about form and punting. He understood the operations of the Tote better than anyone in Zimbabwe and was aware of exactly what a punter and the Racing Operator needed.


“His commitment to the Turf Club was second to none, and its continued existence was due in many ways to his knowledge. All round he was a magnificent man to work with – never stressed – and if things went wrong, he simply said ‘Stop – just let’s apply ourselves to the problem.’”


Peter was MTC Chairman from 2004-2007, having been brought on board as a steward in the early 2000’s, mainly to sort out the TOTE, introduce commingling, and deal with LOTTO. Off the course he was a senior partner and tax consultant at Price Waterhouse.


Henk Leyenaar says it was an honour and privilege to have known Peter. “He was my mate, through racing, for over 50 years – a boffin with figures and a shrewd and successful punter who only bet when it was worthwhile. Strangely he never owned a horse, and when I offered him a share in a syndicate, for free, he said ‘No’.


“Peter was a dedicated family man – he lived for them – and he was the kindest person.”

Rest in peace, Peter Cawood. You were an integral part of racing in Zimbabwe, and we will remember.


Deepest sympathy to Peter’s family and friends.

Ultra Edge!

Ultra Edge, the 2021 Sable Flyers (L} winner, was ridden by Jarryd Penny and followed across the line by Heart Of A Legend, Widjaan, and Seven Seas. Winning margin 2.50 lengths.

The Master Of My Fate filly is trained by Bridget Stidolph and was bred by Varsfontein Stud. She is owned by Messrs R S Dyer, S N Buchan, N Evans, M K Chant, G de Jong, A Dixon, R Morgan, R Sherwood and Bryn Russell.

Congratulations to all the winning connections.

Photograph Gavin Macleod.

Borrowdale Park Racing Today


The first race at Borrowdale Park today (Sunday) is off at 12 25pm and the main race, the 1260m Sable Flyers (LR), at 15 50.

The meeting can be viewed on TellyTrack DSTV Channel 249 – and the Livestream will be on Clocking The Gallop on UTube.


Tips, Final Fields, Online Card, Card Changes etc can be found on https://zimracing.com/

A direct link to the online race card is https://mcusercontent.com/2a1c7dfa1eb4e4b185607f5a6/files/6e466a11-a217-6a57-78c4-cf48b4c84266/MTC_race_card_10_October_2021.pdf

SABLE FLYERS ON SUNDAY – and remembering some who went before


Eight fillies and mares are due to run in the 1260m Sable Flyers (L) at Borrowdale Park on Sunday, so let’s remember some of those who have been victorious in this race before.

In 2016 the race was won by Invincible Swan (J P van der Merwe), trained by Gokhan Terzi.

Belle Epoque won in 2018 with Apprentice M Mjoko in the irons, trained by Kirk Swanson.

The Swanson yard also won the Sable Flyers in 2018 and 2019 with In The Mood. Francois Herholdt was aboard in 2018, and the following year Norbert Takawira was up.

White Winter, trained by Gokhan Terzi and ridden by Nicky Sibanda, scored in 2020.

Photographs by Gavin MacLeod and Jenny Stock.

Stidolph Off To A Good Start

FINAL Fields for the Borrowdale Park race meeting on Sunday, October 10, should be available later today, and the feature race is the Sable Flyers for fillies and mares.

The Bridget Stidolph yard was off to a good start to the 2021/22 season, winning four of the seven races on the Borrowdale card on Sunday, 26 September. Port Elizabeth based jockey, Teaque Gould, won with Tradition, Magic Vision, Magic Mike and Love To Bluff.

Love To Bluff scored in the 1000m Borrowdale Plate and has now won 12 races. By Judport (USA), this five-year-old gelding was bred by Millstream Farm and is owned by Messrs R S Dyer, S N Buchan, N Evans, M K Chant, G de Jong, A Dixon, R Morgan, A Sherwood, G Carter and Mr J P Lewis.


The Debra Swanson yard had two winners – Bold Idyll (Herholdt) and Tulip Way (*Shumba), and Wijdaan (Matsunyane) won for Vanessa Birketoft of V Racing.

Congratulations to all the winning connections.

Photographs: Zimbabwe Equine News

Borrowdale Racing Today

There is racing at Borrowdale Park after a break of 86 days, and the first race is off at 12 35 pm. It is a 7-race card with the main race at 16 05. 

The meeting will take place behind closed doors but can be viewed on DSTV Channel 249 – and the Livestream on Clocking The Gallop will be on this site.

The Park View restaurant will be open during races with numbers strictly limited to 100, and a COVID-19 vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test result (within 48hrs) will be required for entry. As normal, entry is for paid-up members and their guests (USD10 per person entrance fee). Dress code is smart casual, collared shirts for men, no jeans or shorts.

The parade ring, unfortunately, remains closed to owners

Photograph by Zimbabwe Equine News.

Tomcat Team Pressing On And Upward

Michael de Haast, co-founder of IRC, with Cape Trainer Carl Hewitson, and his son Lyall Hewitson, who is sporting the IRC silks. Photograph Credit: Candiese Lenferna/Gold Circle.

His new Borrowdale Park yard was getting into stride when COVID struck, but far from being a candidate for a padded cell, Trainer Thomas Mason is extremely upbeat about the new racing season.


Despite the lengthy lockdowns, and on and off race meetings for months and months, things are looking up. Tomcat Racing has a couple of new owners – and we all know those are like hen’s teeth.


Michael de Haast (IRC), and Craig Dankwerts, have entered into partnership in a two-year-old Vercingetorix filly, Evocative, out of the Fantastic Light mare, Especially (IRE) – part of the formidable E-family which includes Elusive Fort and Empress Club. Fantastic Light, now retired from stud duties, was one of Godolphin’s original globetrotters. racing in seven countries and winning G1 contests in five.


It was recently reported that the International Racing Club (IRC) is approaching the 70-winner mark, worldwide, and with 45 runners in South Africa, the club has won 12 races and secured 18 places, so far. Joao da Mata and Michael de Haast, with his wife, Laura, launched IRC six years ago. One can join as a syndicate member, partner or fractional owner. It’s all about affordability, attracting more people into racing, and sharing the thrills.


Craig Dankwerts, has been racing at Borrowdale Park for many years, and he will also be supporting Tomcat Racing with three colts.


Strictly speaking Sibongile Moyo, who gets top marks for enthusiasm, is not a new owner having had shares in Tomcat Racing runners before. Now two of her horses, True Beauty and Diesel ‘n Dust, recently on holiday, are to join the Tomcat team.


It is not surprising Tom is feeling optimistic. He started his yard from scratch in August 2019 and you can catch up on some background in an article published in Sporting Post at that time – https://www.sportingpost.co.za/2019/08/thomas-mason-zimbabwe-trainer/

Since then, memorable Tomcat Racing moments include Rawedge’s triumph in the 2700m Sunshine Cup in September 2019, and Holy Land, winning the Independence Trophy in June 2020.


So, onwards and upwards, Mr Mason, and all the best for 2021/22.

Jubilee, seen here with Tom Mason, Colleen de Jong and Apprentice Walter Shumba, will be stepping out again at Borrowdale Park on Sunday. Photograph Credit: Zimbabwe Equine News.

New Roles For Familiar Faces


Racing returns to Borrowdale Park on Sunday and some very familiar faces now have new roles.


Former Borrowdale Apprentice Jockey O’Meara Rusike has joined Tomcat Racing with a view to becoming an assistant trainer in due course. In addition, former assistant trainers, Vanessa Birketoft of Vee Racing, and Debra Swanson of Swanson Racing, now have their Trainers Licenses.


O’Meara has recently returned from South Africa after a stint at the South African Apprentice Academy followed by three months at Drakenstein Stud.


And do not forget…Rodgers Satombo is now a fully-fledged jockey and so can no longer claim.


Due to COVID lockdowns and so forth the last Borrowdale Park race meeting took place on July 2, and this will be the first meeting of the 2021/22 racing season. There are seven races on Sunday’s card and Final Fields are published on this site.


The first race on Sunday is due off at 12.35 pm and the feature race, the 1000m Borrowdale Plate, at 16.05.


Photograph: O’Meara Rusike has joined Tomcat Racing.

One Certainty In This Disappointing Year

This has been a disappointing year with enforced racing breaks, thanks to COVID-19, and constant changes.  However, one thing is certain.  Come what may the 2020/21 racing season in Southern Africa will end on the 31st July.

On 1st August all Thoroughbred horses foaled in the Southern Hemisphere officially become one year older. If the Borrowdale Park race meeting cannot take place before the end of this month that will put paid to the 2021 Zimbabwe Oaks (third leg of our Triple Tiara) and the 2021 Champion Juvenile Stakes.

The race meeting scheduled for July 18 had to be abandoned as permission was not forthcoming and, apparently, the Mashonaland Turf Club is not permitted to apply for permission to race until July 26. If the SRC gives the go-ahead then (and we know that seldom happens timeously), permission must then be sought from the ZRP and COH.

All going well this could mean an important race meeting (behind closed doors) having to be set up within two or three days. Difficult as this would be the MTC would do so as plans have already been made to run the 2021 Castle Tankard on July 31.

So that’s where we stand right now with everything up in the air. Meanwhile, racing continues around the rest of the world – and in many countries, spectators can now attend.

Watch this space.