Tatendo Gondo says ‘Watching Racing Is Helping Me Heal’

“On the 28th of December 2019, I was involved in an accident that almost took my life. I sustained a leg injury that saw me spending 69 days in hospital.

 “Those who know me are aware of my passion for sports.

“I remember Sheldene Chant sending me a message and advised me to consider writing more articles about horse racing in Zimbabwe. After that long hospital stay, I was discharged in March. Then, after two weeks, lockdown restrictions were introduced in Zimbabwe.

“Weeks later horse racing received the green light to resume. I remember how Sheldene broke the news to me, “Tatenda, racing is back my dear. But no fans allowed – we have to be content with live streaming the races.”

“With twin scourges of a leg that was healing and COVID-19, I felt as if that was enough. But then I remembered Sheldene’s voice, full of excitement, telling me horse racing was back. The racing ‘analyst’ seemed to have even analysed my mind. I remember tapping on a Facebook notification stating, ‘Borrowdale Racecourse is LIVE’.

“After 69 days in hospital the first sport code I watched was horse racing. Just watching the first race was a beautiful experience that resonated throughout my whole body. Giving me hope that everything would be alright. This kind of hope I will hold in my heart forever.

“But what exactly gave me this kind of hope you would ask? After 79 days off racing the filly, Dindingwe, very nearly won the Jacaranda Tote Free Handicap, finishing 0.10 lengths behind her stable companion True Beauty. There I was comparing 79, and 69 plus days.  

“Why compare a horse and a human you might ask? The answer is a human being and a horse share a special connection.

“After such a long layoff Dindingwe still lived in the moment. This taught me to embrace the present. Being in the present helped me cope with the pain, thus reducing distress.

“Before the race began Dindingwe was quite hard to get into the stalls, and shortly after the start she was bumped by another runner. As a champion she never surrendered, but because of acceptance, managed to race, and almost won, being beaten only 0.10 lengths by True Beauty. The lesson I learnt from Dindingwe is that acceptance is an essential part of life relationships, and the recovery process.

“I have found a new sense of self confidence and self-worth and this has helped me to be more responsible, and to take care of myself. I am grateful for the supportive network, particularly from my parents, Sheldene, and my siblings.

“They say the journey to recovery is very long, and painful, and I am battling with a relapse, indescribable pain, and feeling that this is the order of the day.

“There are no quick solutions, no easy answers, you just breathe deep and wait for it to subside. Most of the time pain gets you where you least expect it. It hits you below the belt and doesn’t let up. Pain creates misery and gives you sorrow, and sometimes can even trouble you.

“But watching horses has been, and is, a great therapy. As we wait for the next race meeting, here’s to a speedy recovery for me.”

(Tatenda Gondo is an established sports reporter, also known as Sports Fanatic. Unfortunately, her introduction to racing has been plagued by ill health and racing behind closed doors, so she has been unable to meet many racing people – or explore the course.  Notwithstanding those difficulties she has been pressing on regardless.)

ABOVE: True Beauty (nearest camera) and Dindingwe in the Jacaranda Tote Free Handicap.  Photograph by Jenny Stock.

BELOW: Dindingwe won the Breeders Fillies Mile (L).  Photograph by Gavin MacLeod.

What A Day Apprentice Walter Shumba

Apprentice Walter Shumba rode the winners of four races at Borrowdale Park on Sunday – Jubilee, Citrusdal, Wantage and Red Pollard.


He and Obscure came a close second to Magnus Maximus in the last race of the day, the 1600m Guinea Trial. Magnus Maximus owned by the Centaur Syndicate is trained by Swanson Racing and Apprentice Rodgers Satombo was in the irons.

Well done to all the winning connections.

Photograph by Zimbabwe Equine News: Apprentice Shumba and Jubilee, trained by Tomcat Racing.

First Race At 12 30 Today

COVID-19 protocols apply so racing at Borrowdale Park is still strictly behind closed doors.

The SandSport Livestream from Borrowdale Park will be on ClockingThe Gallop on UTube, with a link on this site. In addition, the Borrowdale races will be on DSTV Tellytrack Channel 249.

The online racecard, tips, card changes etc are available here.

Photograph by Gavin Macleod

A Tougher Test For True Beauty

The 1600m Guineas Trial at Borrowdale Park this Sunday should provide an interesting clash between stable companions True Beauty and Magnus Maximus.

I have said this before – and cannot resist saying it again – but the Guineas Trial is no more a trial for the Zimbabwe Guineas (with set weights) than the 1600m Tote Free Handicap. If one looks back over the years the fancied topweights often feature in the Guineas Trial, but there have also been upsets. For instance, in 2019 Opaque (52 kgs and starting at 44/1), beat Action Jackson (59 kgs) by a length.  

However, last year the race was won by Wantage (60kgs) who finished 3 lengths clear of Tree Of Wisdom (57.5 kgs).

True Beauty looks the horse to beat, having won both the 1200m Jacaranda Free and the 1600m Tote Free Handicaps, and finished second to Dindingwe in the Breeders Fillies Mile. Norbert Takawira rides and True Beauty will carry 59.5 kgs.  

With claiming Apprentice Rodgers Satombo in the irons, Magnus Maximus will receive 2 kgs from True Beauty on Sunday.  *Satombo rode True Beauty in the Tote Free, and she received 2kgs from Magnus Maximus then.

Magnus Maximus has won 2 out of 4 starts, beating Veseo and Mazikeen over 1200m. His last outing was in the 1600m Tote Free Handicap won by True Beauty in soft going. That day Sunday’s runners, Mazikeen, Suave Judge and Obscure finished in front of Magnus Maximus who was 20 lengths off the winner. No explanation in the Stipes Report but let’s assume that was too bad to be true.

Of course, its not all about the Swanson pair, True Beauty and Magnus Maximus. The remaining runners, all with weight on their side, will be waiting in the wings. Suave Judge received 4 kgs from True Beauty in the Tote Free and will now receive 2kgs; Mazikeen is 2 kgs better off, and Obscure, with claiming Apprentice Walter Shumba aboard, meets True Beauty 3.5 kgs to the good.

Obviously, this will be a tougher test for True Beauty, but I’m hoping she will shine.

Photograph Zimbabwe Equine News: True Beauty and Norbert Takawira team up in the Guineas Trial.

No Catching What A Dandy

What A Dandy, owned by John Koumides, made light work of the 1100m Hachiman Sprint at Borrowdale Park this afternoon.

The six-year-old Just As Well (USA) gelding, donned blinkers for his return to sprinting and made every post a winning one. Apprentice Rodgers Satombo was in the irons and What A Dandy is from the Swanson stable.  He was bred by Barton Hall Stud and has now won 11 and been placed 22 times from 40 starts.

Minor placings went to Gladstone, Golden Lion and Verdier.

Congratulations to all the winning connections.

Photograph by Gavin Macleod

Good Wishes For Happy Racing In 2021

The Hachiman Sprint will be run over 1100m at Borrowdale Park on Sunday – the first race meeting in Zimbabwe in 2021.

All things being equal – but they are not – any one of the six runners could, on their day, win. The field includes two-time Gold Cup winner, Verdier, and Christofle who won the Hachiman Sprint in 2019.  Gladstone, a whisker behind Verdier in the 1200m Gold Cup on December 11, is also there, along with What A Dandy (placed in the Hachiman before), Love To Bluff and Golden Lion – who likes to surprise from time to time.

The answer might lie in the going and who can tell what that will be on Sunday?  On December 20 it was soft underfoot, penetrometer reading 29, but since then the course has had a chance to recover. However, this week Zimbabwe had been rife with flood warnings, but nothing has materialised in Harare, so far.

The first race on Sunday is at 12 15 and the Hachiman Sprint is due off at 15 55. The Borrowdale Tipsters have been asked to submit their predictions by this afternoon (Thursday) which is quite cruel in view of the uncertainty about the rain – but one must get the serious stuff out of the way early on New Year’s Eve.

The two races prior to the Hachiman are also rather mind-boggling, but once punters have recovered from their hangovers on Saturday, they will be better placed to make their selections with the help of the online Borrowdale card.

I hope every Borrowdale Park supporter enjoys the New Year celebrations and wish you all a happy and prosperous 2021.  We always know next year will be better – don’t we?  


Dreaming Of Imagined Opulence

Did you notice that this year the lead up to Christmas was somewhat muted – although I am sure it all came right on the day.

Possibly, in Zimbabwe, this was partly due to soaring prices because, for mean-spirited people like me, it is hard to feel festive when simple shopping leads to traumatic shock.

The next hurdle is New Year’s Eve when we are meant to be optimistic and brimming over with good cheer. Zimbos all know next year will be better – and in this case it better be – but I have found out how to be wildly happy, instantly, and bursting with plans for 2021.

The answer lies in imagined opulence. Take a few moments to imagine money is no object and it is amazing how quickly one adapts to this lovely idea. Then decide what you want to happen next year – after you have spread some of your boundless wealth around, buying horses and looking after the less fortunate, of course.

Personally, I want my old stamping ground back – the Ipi Tombe Room at Borrowdale Park with its easy access to the important parts of the racecourse. I miss that relaxed atmosphere with down to earth racing people, who get their kicks out of winning the odd quartet.

And before you say that is not going to happen remember money is no object so I can do what I like.

I have not checked up on what is left in the Ipi Tombe Room for several months. The devastation is too depressing and talked about plans never come to anything. Perhaps someone has leased these premises but so what. With my unlimited funds I can buy the lease, if any; buy tables and chairs, get tablecloths; refurbish the kitchen, stock the bar, replace everything that was summarily sent “upstairs”, order flowers, lavishly, and hire a with-it manager who will keep it clean, engage necessary staff and keep us supplied with delicious snacks.

We could be up and running in a couple of weeks, with all the help that would be forthcoming from other people who also miss the good old days in the Ipi Tombe Room. And there will be a grand re-opening, of course, when former Ipi Tombe patrons will be invited to fill a table with invited guests – drinks and snacks on the house.

Having got that off my chest I feel much better. This sense of empowerment will last several hours, at least – but back to earth and basics.

Racecourses need people, as well as owners, and worldwide the trend is aimed at attracting racegoers. Unfortunately, no-one is going to come racing if there is nowhere to have a drink and chat in between races and meet up with other people.

All credit to those who have kept Zimbabwe racing going during difficult times. However, COVID will not last forever and, hopefully, the powers that be will, in 2021, give some thought to improving the facilities on offer so that new, and former, racing fans come on to the course.

Merry Christmas…

2020 has been memorable for unfortunate reasons but THE CENTAURIAN SAYS there have been achievements“So, there you have it – bucket loads of crap heaped on us all for much of the year – but, despite the challenges, Zimbabwe and its racing community have achieved much.” Read all about it on this site – The Centaurian Takes Aim

BELOW: Photograph by Scott Buchan – last look at Borrowdale Park in 2020.

Borrowdale Racing Today

The first race at Borrowdale Park today, Sunday, December 20, 2020, is off at 11 35.

COVID-19 protocols apply so racing is still behind closed doors.

The SandSport Livestream from Borrowdale will be on ClockingThe Gallop on UTube, with a link on this site..

In addition, the Borrowdale races will be on DSTV Tellytrack Channel 249.

Photograph by Andrew Philip

On A Hiding To Nothing?

The Borrowdale Park Tipsters could be on a hiding to nothing tomorrow – and please don’t ask “What’s New?”

The going was soft at the December 11 meeting and there has been plenty of rain this week, with the possibility of more. At Borrowdale, the going is on top for most of the year so identifying mudlarks is somewhat hit and miss.

Surprisingly, the tipsters seem to have few doubts about the winners of three of the seven races on Sunday’s card.

Red Pollard
has all the support in the 1450m MR 65 Handicap and Port Elizabeth jockey, Teaque Gould, has the ride. In the 1600m MR 85 Handicap three out of four tipsters have taken Mr Greenlight to win, with Nikki Sibanda in the irons.

Citrusdal, with Jarryd Penny up, is the unanimous choice for the 1700m MR 75 Handicap, and the son of Duke Of Marmalade (IRE) is hoping for a hat-trick here.

The get-out stakes are a 1900m Pinnacle Plate 100, but here the tipsters are evenly split between Peggson and Yarraman.

The first race is due off at 11 35 – and “closed doors” still applies.