Getting There…

The maintenance team, with continued help from Gyles Dorward, is getting there.  The trotting ring is completed, trainers’ collecting rings relocated, and a new road has been made to the Beach House.

The actual course is ‘looking great and ready for racing on 8 October’, Gary de Jong reports.

Great stuff!

Not Just Watching Grass Grow

Borrowdale Park’s maintenance team has had plenty to do during this extended racing break. They haven’t been relaxing while watching the grass grow.

You have all heard about the potato crop, and another 1.2 hectares are expected to be ready for reaping in six weeks’ time. To ensure there is sufficient water for this exercise a new borehole has been drilled and the first water was found at 21 metres, which is encouraging.

To accommodate further crops graders were needed to remove boulders from the infield – and it didn’t end there. The trotting ring had to be relocated and this will now be in front of the grandstand.

“This has been a huge job”, Gary de Jong said, “as it involved plotting the size, and bringing in graders. Then applying quarry dust, followed by sand. The original trotting ring poles must also be relocated.”

It has been a race against the clock to ensure that the trainers are only inconvenienced for a few days. All going well the new ring should be up and running early this week.

Keep up the good work, maintenance crew!

Blazing Their Trail

Made In Zimbabwe

Even in its heyday, Borrowdale Park could not quite compare with Epsom and Churchill Downs, but so many who cut their racing teeth in Zimbabwe have moved on to other racing centres, worldwide, and succeeded.

I would be surprised if any other local ‘industry’ has exported a comparable number of trailblazers. For the record – and I know before I start that there will be errors and omissions – let’s mention some of them.

Currently, the stars of this show probably are Owen Heffer of HollywoodBets; Brian Finch, the recently appointed chairman of Epsom Downs; James Frank, winner of a Godolphin Award a couple of years back, and still employed on a stud in England, and Daniel Muscutt, busy booting home winners overseas, while his father, Peter, is saddling them in South Africa.

Nico Kritsiotis has also made his mark – initially as a commentator, and latterly with ClockingTheGallop on U-Tube.

With the help of some friends, I have been compiling lists – and losing them. I can’t keep on dithering so will put out what I have – hoping that when posted on Facebook readers will come to the party with updates and corrections.

For many South Africa was the obvious choice when deciding to move on, and former ZImbos have done well. Among the trainers are Paul Matchett, Roy Magner, Ashley Fortune, Stuart Pettigrew, Clint Binda, Brett Crawford, Peter Muscutt, Alyson and Kevin Wright, and Ivan and Darryl Moore. Sadly Neil Bruss, Colin Lee, George Uren and Ronnie Sheehan have passed on.

Sharon Patterson of Bayshore Barn has swelled the spelling ranks, while her son, Sean, assists Stidolph Racing at the Vaal.

And…we must not forget Michael J Clements Racing Stables in Singapore!

Geoff Armitage, formerly of Trelawney Stud in Zimbabwe, established Sandown Stud down south, with his son, James; Robin Bruss needs no introduction to anyone in South African breeding, and Annie Woodham, now deceased, also had a role here. Craig Carey is with Ridgemont Highlands, and Amanda Carey recently joined Maine Chance Farms. I am almost sure to be called on some omissions in this category.

The NHRA has also been invaded – starting at the top. Arnold Hyde, Racing Control Executive, hails from Gweru and comes from solid Rhodesian/Zimbabwean stock; former Zimbabwean jockey, Robert Moore, is Senior Academy Riding Master, and Martin Ball, previously a Borrowdale Park Stipendiary Steward, is also a South African Jockey Academy Riding Master.

Other members of the NHA Staff with Zimbabwean connections are Hazel Kayiya, Stud Book Manager (from Bulawayo), and Shan Rowe, who is the Central Provinces Inquiry Reporter, and she comes from Harare. Peter Patterson, who passed on recently, will be remembered as a Stipendiary Steward both in Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Former jockeys are hard to keep track of. Taps Manxusw and Michael Mangwendeza are still in racing, but maybe not riding, while I understand Rogan Norval won a Gr1 in New Zealand as a jockey, but is training now. Brendon Fitzgerald is training in Australia, Reid Paterson, Gary and Russell Waterston, and Mark du Plessis are alive and kicking. Craig Wonnacott is far away and into Fine Art. Indeed, we are due for some updates here.

Some of you will remember Basil Thomas and Gary Lottering, both formerly part of Borrowdale Park’s administration team. Basil took control at Clairwood in KZN, and Gary is working hard in Tasmania, I hear.

Last, but certainly not least, are the handicappers – Michael Wanklin, Ryan Skelton, Alistair Pulford and Matthew Lipman. Ryan was the handicapper in Qatar for several years but is now handicapping in the United Kingdom. Matthew (better known as ‘Lips’) is in South Africa, and Mike Wanklin is doing great things as the Dubai Racing Club’s racing advisor, having worked all around the world to get there. Alistair Pulford left Zimbabwe, aged 21, and went to Australia. In due course, he became Darley’s Head Of Sales.

This is a very interesting quartet – and I hope to follow up with in-depth coverage of their exploits later.

In the meantime, thank you to everyone who helped with the lists – apologies to everyone who should have been included – and thanks, in anticipation, to those who are going to help put this record straight.

This will also be published on Facebook – on the group page LoveRacingZimbabwe.

Borrowdale Still In Potato Business

The Borrowdale potato crop is flourishing and, when available, pockets are being sold for around US$6 a pocket, depending on size.

Well worth making a trip to the course and finding the relevant shed!

Rosemary Dorward took these photographs yesterday. The first shows the day’s lifting being loaded into the shed; followed by the pockets being weighed – and then (below) 1,400 pockets being loaded into a truck.

Keep going well potato team!

What A Dandy – Of Course

What A Dandy, now a 15-time winner, ended the 2021/22 racing season with aplomb at Borrowdale Park on Sunday.

He was an easy winner of the 1450m Breeders Sprint and was followed by stable mate Bugatti Blue, then Holy Land and True Beauty.  The winning margins were 2.50. 0.10 and 0.05 lengths.  

Trained by the in-form trainer Debra Swanson, and ridden by in-form Norbert Takawira, the Just As Well (USA) gelding is owned by Borrowdale stalwart John Koumides, and was bred by Barton Hall Stud.

Congratulations to the winning connections of a truly gallant performer – who is eight years old from today, the 1st August 2022. 

This photograph by Jenny Stock was NOT taken yesterday.  Another win but same place.

Last Meeting Of 2021/22

Zimbabwe’s 2021/22 racing season has had its share of ups and downs, but it ends at midnight on Sunday. Then we can all sing “Happy Birthday Horses” as Southern Hemisphere Thoroughbreds turn a year older on August 1.

The last race at Borrowdale Park on Sunday is the 1450m Breeders Sprint, due off at 4pm. I have had years to get over it, but I still mourn the loss of the superb Borrowdale 1400m straight. The prospect of any 1450m event (50m having been added to accommodate the turn) makes my hackles rise and I regard 1450 and 1500m events as mongrel trips.

Not that I am suggesting that the 10 runners due to take part in the Breeders Sprint are ill-bred. In fact, they are quite the opposite, and this field includes the recent winners of Zimbabwe’s big three – the 2000m Castle Tankard, the 1800m Ok Grand Challenge and the 1900m Republic Cup. If you had time to total the collective wins of these 10 horses (without a race card) the result would impress.

What A Dandy, Bugatti Blue, Holy Land, Captain Of Tortuga, Love To Bluff, Oden, and Mr Greenlight will all carry 60 kgs. The fair sex – four-year-old filly True Beauty, and the five-year-old mares, Seven Seas and Enrapture, carry 57.5 kgs.

Although this is a field with undoubted ability it includes the gifted sprinter Oden, while many others have collected most of their laurels over more ground. On form, few can claim to be distance suited – so far. A couple have never tried this trip, and then you have the likes of What A Dandy who has won, often, from 1000 – 1800m.

One of the exceptions is Holy Land who won the 1450m Zimbabwe Challenge on 21 November, carrying 60 kgs. Republic Cup winner Bugatti Blue (also 60) was 6.25 lengths behind, and Seven Seas (53kg) who won the 2022 OK Grand Challenge, was further back.

However, in 2019, at Greyville, Seven Seas had won a 1450m Maiden Plate, and at Borrowdale, in February, she won a 1450m Pinnacle Plate 85, beating Fortuna Doro.

In 2018 and 2019 in Gauteng, Captain Of Tortuga won three times over 1400m. He has only had 5 starts at Borrowdale, over 1200m, 1600m and 1800m. He won his first race here over 1200m, beating What A Dandy by half a length. Both carried 60kgs. LoveTo Bluff also ran here but did not shine.

In October 2020 Love To Bluff, usually pretty nifty up the straight, won a 1500m Allowance Plate, when Holy Land and Mr Greenlight, both receiving weight, were beaten.

Finally. Enrapture has won from 1260m to 1600m, and these wins included a 1400m event at Greyville and a 1500m Graduation Plate in January at Borrowdale.

At the end of this exercise, I was even more irritable, having reached no worthwhile conclusions. Can we assume the Breeders Sprint will be won by one with some sort of 1450m form? Not necessarily. How can one ignore Oden, who might like to go further, or Tankard winner True Beauty, even if she has never tried this trip, or Bugatti Blue – the list is endless.

Just watch the betting – or use a pin – and if you lose drown your sorrows when seeing in the 2022/23 season in Park View at Borrowdale Park.

The first race on Sunday is off at noon. This is the last race meeting before a longer-than-usual annual racing break.

Photograph by Andrew Philip

The Answer Lay In Some Spuds

You know what they say… when the going gets tough the tough get going…and make a plan if they live in Zimbabwe.

This week Borrowdale Park has been a hive of activity and Rosie Dorward’s photographs tell the story. In these trying times maintaining a racecourse is expensive, and hosting race meetings even more so. The Mashonaland Turf Club had to make a plan – and decided to plant potatoes.

The MTC Board, and everyone else involved, get full marks for their innovative initiative. Fortunately, some people who know how to grow spuds were included in this line-up.

I don’t doubt that marketing arrangements were in hand before the first potato was planted. However, if one asks around one might be able to buy a pocket or two.

Tigers Eagle Can Stay

Craig Danckwerts’ handsome Flying The Flag (IRE) filly, Tigers Eagle, was a convincing winner of the 2400m Zimbabwe Derby (Gr3) at Borrowdale Park this afternoon. Cordobesa ran second and Cutback, third.

Teaque Gould was in the irons and Tigers Eagle is trained by Debra Swanson, who saddled two earlier winners – Mill Creek with Gould up, and Masaaken, ridden by Nobert Takawira.

The Derby winner was bred by Wilgerbosdrift and Mauritzfontein.

The rest of the day’s training honours went to Gokhan Terzi who won with Windsor Lane (Munashe Josi), Differentiate (Thabiso Gumede), Var Aglow (Josi), and Enrapture (Walter Shumba).

Congratulations to all the winning connections.

Tigers Eagle Looks Good

Tigers Eagle

Midfield Girl is a card scratching which leaves a field of four for the 2400m Zimbabwe Derby at Borrowdale Park on Wednesday.

Tigers Eagle, a recent winner over 2700m, is the only member of this quartet to have raced further than 2000m – but given a chance who knows what the others might do. The first race on Wednesday’s 7-race card is due off at 12 20 pm and the Derby (third leg of Zimbabwe’s Triple Crown) takes place at 15 40.

1 MASTER MING

Trainer: Thomas Mason – Jockey: W Shumba

Breeding: Toreador (IRE) – Madame Ming by Overlord (AUS)

Colours: Russet, orange and yellow armbands, black cap.

He won his first start over 1000m in July 2021 and was distantly placed in the 1600m Tote Free Handicap and the Zimbabwe2000(Gr3) won by his stable companion Cutback.  I have yet to be convinced that staying is his preference.

Master Ming

2 CORDOBESA

Trainer: Bridget Stidolph – Jockey: J Penny

Breeding: Great Britain (GB) – Run Girl Wild by Fort Wood (USA)

Colours: Black, white hoop, yellow sleeves and cap

Winner of a 1600m Maiden Plate at Greyville and subsequently placed over 1700m and 1900m.  Won her first start – a 1700m Pinnacle Plate 85 – at Borrowdale in April when Seven Seas, Differentiate and Obscure were behind her.  However, Seven Seas, 0.25 lengths back, gave Cordobesa 9 kgs. The three-year-old filly has been well beaten in her next three starts – possibly due to the change in altitude. Quite an interesting runner.

Cordobesa

3 CUTBACK

Trainer: Thomas Mason – Jockey: F Herholdt

Breeding: Twice Over (GB) – Suedette by Dynasty

Colours: Shocking pink, black chevrons, shocking pink sleeves, black armbands and cap

Won twice over 1600m before beating Regulate by 1.25 lengths in the Zimbabwe2000(Gr3). Next time out Cutback was involved in the closest of finishes with Empress Of Jade in the 2000m Zimbabwe Oaks, when Tigers Eagle and Midfield Girl were further back.  Cutback is gutsy and all heart – I only wish there was a bit more of her. She has yet to race further than 2000m but hold thumbs.

Cutback

TIGERS EAGLE

Trainer: DJ Swanson – Jockey: T Gould\

Breeding: Flying The Flag (IRE) – Neck Of The Woods by Al Mufti (USA)

Colours: Gold and black checks, gold sleeves, black seams, collar and cuffs, gold cap

Won a 1700m Maiden Plate and the 1600m Tote Free Handicap. Consistently placed from 1800m to 2000m before winning a 2700m MR70 Handicap on June 4 when Midfield Girl, receiving 2 kgs, was 2.75 lengths behind. Tigers Eagle has ability and will, without doubt, see out the 2400m Derby trip.

Photographs by Zimbabwe Equine News.