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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
There was no catching Bugatti Blue when the seven-year-old Traffic Guard (USA) gelding romped home to win the 1900m Republic Cup (Gr3) at Borrowdale Park this afternoon.
Trained by Debra Swanson and with Nobert Takawira in the irons, Bugatti Blue is owned by the Centaur Syndicate (nominee C J Danckwerts). Bred by Summerhill Stud (Pty) Ltd, Bugatti Blue has now won 10 races. The placings went to Seven Seas, Masaaken and Lily Blue.
This was the cherry on top for the Centaur Syndicate and the Swanson/Takawira combo. They also won the 1100m Maiden Juvenile Plate with first-timer Grand Warrior – who is definitely one for the notebook.
Outsider Empress Of Jade won the Zimbabwe Oaks today in an extremely close finish which seems to have become the norm at Borrowdale Park. Unfortunately, if one is not at the course, the limited TV coverage cannot be relied upon to ever give the actual result.
Both Cutback (Schwarz) and Empress Of Jade (De Gouveia) tailed the small field while Tigers Eagle set the pace. They came to the fore in the home straight and the Gokhan Terzi-trained Empress Of Jade managed to catch Cutback on the line. Then came Tigers Eagle and Midfield Girl. Winning margins 0.05, 8.00 and 8.00 lengths.
The daughter of Rafeef (AUS) is owned by Ms S P Moyo and Mr G Tafeni and was bred by Golden Touch Thoroughbred Services and Mr M Kidd.
Congratulations to the winning connections.
Photograph above by Laurent Viguie
Below:SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR
Photo Finish 2022 Zimbabwe Oaks (L) – won by Empress Of Jade from Cutback, winning margin 0.05 lengths.
The delayed Zimbabwe Oaks will be run over 2000m at Borrowdale Park on Wednesday and in this small field Cutback and Tigers Eagle seem the pick.
Cutback’s last four starts include a Maiden win over 1600m; then the Twice Over (GB) filly won the 1600m Guineas Trial; she ran fourth to Call The Wind in the Zimbabwe Guineas, and her last start was in the Zimbabwe 2000 (Gr3) on April 3, which she won. She has been beaten by Tigers Eagle over a mile but turned the tables in the Zim2000.
The Tote Free winner Tigers Eagle has been consistently placed from 1800m to 2000m and won her last start, which was over 2700m on June 4, beating stable companion Days Gone By, and Midfield Girl. Obviously, Tigers Eagle is racing fit – while Cutback may need the run.
Midfield Girl, by Alado (GB), won a 1900m Maiden Plate early in April, and was six lengths off Obscure over 2200m, so is distance suited.
Empress Of Jade, by Rafeef (AUS) and out of a Fort Wood mare, makes up the field. She has only raced twice at Borrowdale – both times up the straight – but is bred to go further.
Denis Schwarz rides Cutback and Wes Marwing will be on Tigers Eagle. Jarryd Penny teams up with Midfield Girl and Diego de Gouveia with Empress Of Jade.
Racing begins at 12 noon on Wednesday and the Oaks is due off at 15.35.
After the running of the OK Grand Challenge (GR1) at Borrowdale on Saturday, the winner, Seven Seas, has moved from a Merit Rating of 85 to 90. True Beauty has gone from 95 to 99, and Holy Land has moved up by two to 98. Lily Blue (fourth) remains on 99.
All of Captain Of Tortuga, Finchatton, Only Him, Wantage, Armstrong and Bugatti Blue dropped down one.
The Merit Ratings of Mr Greenlight, Edward The Seventh and Love The View were reduced by two.