I am on a great WhatsApp group of racing aficionados – meaning persons who are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about a subject, activity or pastime. Collectively these “WhAppers” know everything there is to know! But when the subject of which might have been the best horse in Zimbabwe since 1892 – debate ensued.

For a viral afternoon of diversion, I suggested a decision could be derived on a points-based system….. more debate!

Despite protestations, I have decided to have a go – and have developed the following matrix. It’s not supposed to be gospel or exhaustive – it’s supposed to be a bit of fun and something we can populate whilst we are locked down and running low on beer, wine and spirits.

Group 1 race win 10 points
Group 1 second 2 points
Group 1 third 1 point

Group 2 race win 7 points
Group 2 second 1 point

Group 3 race win 5 points
Feature or Listed race win 4 points
A division or Equivalent win 3 points
B division or Equivalent win 2 points
C division or Equivalent win 1 point

Wins outside Zimbabwe 1 point extra
Wins by 10 lengths of more 1 point extra if outside Zimbabwe

And use the ranking each race was at the time it was run

I am not going to justify any of this matrix – it’s a Centaurian thing and smells about right.

Despite having a decent horse or two over the last forty years, for me, the best horse to either be bred or to have raced in Zimbabwe is undoubtedly Ipi Tombe. Now I have to say that this horse appeared at the 2000 Yearling Sales at Harare Showgrounds and had the ideal breeding for my shortlist – you recall, Mr Prospector sire line and Northern Dancer dam line – Manshood out of Carnet De Danse. And yes I did have a good look at her and came to the conclusion is was a piece of utter c**p, small, squibby and might have made a pit pony if there were any coal mines using them at the time. It sold for diddly squat to Sunmark Syndicate – and I think for the maiden bid.

I defy anyone to say they spotted a future champion or Zimbabwean legend on that day – which confirms that horses are both great levellers and are capable of making fools of us all. Perhaps that is why I love racing – running a business is far easier than picking a champion racehorse – just accept it’s the truth.

So to Ipi Tombe’s score. I make it a towering 73 – based on the following information taken from the Racing Post database – plus the brain cells of Doug Jaffray.

Date Course Grade Place Distance Points
23 Sept 01 Borrowdale Park Maiden Plate 1 1
14 Oct 01 Borrowdale Park Allowance 1 1 02 Dec 01 Borrowdale Park Allowance 2 0
16 Dec 01 Borrowdale Park Allowance 1 1
0 2 Jan 02 Borrowdale Park Allowance 1 4 1
3 Mar 02 Turfontein Triple Tiara Gr 1 2 2+1
06 April 02 Newmarket Fillies’ Classic Gr 2 1 3 7+1
04 May 02 Greyville Fillies’ Guineas Gr 1 1 3 10+1
01 June 02 Greyville Woolavington Gr 2 1 2 7+1
06 July 02 Greyville Durban July Gr 1 1 sh 10 +1
06 Feb 03 Nad Al Sheba Al Fahid Fort Listed 1 2 4+1
08 Mar 03 Nad Al Sheba Jebel Jatta Gr 3 1 4 5+1
29 Mar 03 Nad Al Sheba Dubai Duty Fr. Gp 1 1 3 10+1
28 June 03 Churchill Downs Locust Grove Gp 3 1 5+1

It would be good to see if any other horses to have graced Borrowdale Park could get close to this magnificent outcome – I doubt it.

But it would be good to see how close any might have come – that is the challenge for the all aficionados of Zim racing to research and post in this column.

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