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

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