Tomcat Team Pressing On And Upward

Michael de Haast, co-founder of IRC, with Cape Trainer Carl Hewitson, and his son Lyall Hewitson, who is sporting the IRC silks. Photograph Credit: Candiese Lenferna/Gold Circle.

His new Borrowdale Park yard was getting into stride when COVID struck, but far from being a candidate for a padded cell, Trainer Thomas Mason is extremely upbeat about the new racing season.


Despite the lengthy lockdowns, and on and off race meetings for months and months, things are looking up. Tomcat Racing has a couple of new owners – and we all know those are like hen’s teeth.


Michael de Haast (IRC), and Craig Dankwerts, have entered into partnership in a two-year-old Vercingetorix filly, Evocative, out of the Fantastic Light mare, Especially (IRE) – part of the formidable E-family which includes Elusive Fort and Empress Club. Fantastic Light, now retired from stud duties, was one of Godolphin’s original globetrotters. racing in seven countries and winning G1 contests in five.


It was recently reported that the International Racing Club (IRC) is approaching the 70-winner mark, worldwide, and with 45 runners in South Africa, the club has won 12 races and secured 18 places, so far. Joao da Mata and Michael de Haast, with his wife, Laura, launched IRC six years ago. One can join as a syndicate member, partner or fractional owner. It’s all about affordability, attracting more people into racing, and sharing the thrills.


Craig Dankwerts, has been racing at Borrowdale Park for many years, and he will also be supporting Tomcat Racing with three colts.


Strictly speaking Sibongile Moyo, who gets top marks for enthusiasm, is not a new owner having had shares in Tomcat Racing runners before. Now two of her horses, True Beauty and Diesel ‘n Dust, recently on holiday, are to join the Tomcat team.


It is not surprising Tom is feeling optimistic. He started his yard from scratch in August 2019 and you can catch up on some background in an article published in Sporting Post at that time – https://www.sportingpost.co.za/2019/08/thomas-mason-zimbabwe-trainer/

Since then, memorable Tomcat Racing moments include Rawedge’s triumph in the 2700m Sunshine Cup in September 2019, and Holy Land, winning the Independence Trophy in June 2020.


So, onwards and upwards, Mr Mason, and all the best for 2021/22.

Jubilee, seen here with Tom Mason, Colleen de Jong and Apprentice Walter Shumba, will be stepping out again at Borrowdale Park on Sunday. Photograph Credit: Zimbabwe Equine News.

New Roles For Familiar Faces


Racing returns to Borrowdale Park on Sunday and some very familiar faces now have new roles.


Former Borrowdale Apprentice Jockey O’Meara Rusike has joined Tomcat Racing with a view to becoming an assistant trainer in due course. In addition, former assistant trainers, Vanessa Birketoft of Vee Racing, and Debra Swanson of Swanson Racing, now have their Trainers Licenses.


O’Meara has recently returned from South Africa after a stint at the South African Apprentice Academy followed by three months at Drakenstein Stud.


And do not forget…Rodgers Satombo is now a fully-fledged jockey and so can no longer claim.


Due to COVID lockdowns and so forth the last Borrowdale Park race meeting took place on July 2, and this will be the first meeting of the 2021/22 racing season. There are seven races on Sunday’s card and Final Fields are published on this site.


The first race on Sunday is due off at 12.35 pm and the feature race, the 1000m Borrowdale Plate, at 16.05.


Photograph: O’Meara Rusike has joined Tomcat Racing.

One Certainty In This Disappointing Year

This has been a disappointing year with enforced racing breaks, thanks to COVID-19, and constant changes.  However, one thing is certain.  Come what may the 2020/21 racing season in Southern Africa will end on the 31st July.

On 1st August all Thoroughbred horses foaled in the Southern Hemisphere officially become one year older. If the Borrowdale Park race meeting cannot take place before the end of this month that will put paid to the 2021 Zimbabwe Oaks (third leg of our Triple Tiara) and the 2021 Champion Juvenile Stakes.

The race meeting scheduled for July 18 had to be abandoned as permission was not forthcoming and, apparently, the Mashonaland Turf Club is not permitted to apply for permission to race until July 26. If the SRC gives the go-ahead then (and we know that seldom happens timeously), permission must then be sought from the ZRP and COH.

All going well this could mean an important race meeting (behind closed doors) having to be set up within two or three days. Difficult as this would be the MTC would do so as plans have already been made to run the 2021 Castle Tankard on July 31.

So that’s where we stand right now with everything up in the air. Meanwhile, racing continues around the rest of the world – and in many countries, spectators can now attend.

Watch this space.

Sunday’s Borrowdale Meeting Abandoned

The Mashonaland Turf Club has advised that they were unable to get the necessary clearances by the deadline on Tuesday, and therefore the race meeting scheduled for Sunday, July 18, has been abandoned.

With regard to the meeting to be held on the 31st of July 2021, a decision will be made in due course.

Running For Johnny

Seven of Zimbabwe’s top middle-distance horses will line up for the 1700m Johnny Dardagan Pinnacle Plate 100 at Borrowdale Park this Friday.

Sadly, Mr Dardagan passed away in Cape Town recently and he will be particularly remembered by family and friends at this race meeting, which we will all be watching from home.

In this top field finding the winner will not be easy although Mr Greenlight, Wantage and Three To Tango are first to catch the eye. The Swanson stable will saddle Three To Tango, Bugatti Blue and Horseplay, while the Terzi yards are represented by Mr Greenlight, Yarraman and Edward The Seventh.  Bridget Stidolph is pinning all her hopes on Wantage.

It should be a great race and a fitting tribute to one of Borrowdale’s ardent supporters who will be missed.

The first race on Friday is at 12.15 and the Pinnacle Plate is due off at 16.25. This an 8-race card and the Livestream will be shown by Clocking The Gallop on UTube.

Photographs by Jenny Stock, Gavin MacLeod and Andrew Philip.

Another Successful Day For Terzi Yards

The Gokhan Terzi yards hit the high spots again at Borrowdale Park on Wednesday, winning five of the seven carded races.

Veseo (shown here) was the winner of the 1200m MR 80 Handicap and is owned by the Brumby Syndicate (nominee: Grant Littleford). Diego De Gouveia in the irons.

The Terzi/ De Gouveia combo also scored with Seven Seas in the 1200m Graduation Plate and Karvani in the 1600m Maiden Plate.

Calvin Habib, riding for Terzi, won with Armstrong (1600m MR 85 Handicap), and Shesalegend (1700m MR 65 Handicap).

Congratulations to all the winning connections – very well done.

Photograph by Laurent Viguie.

Borrowdale Racing Tomorrow – Wednesday

Borrowdale Park is racing strictly behind closed doors tomorrow (Wednesday).

There are 7 races on the card and the first is due off at 12.15 and the last at 15 40.

The races will be televised on DSTV Channel 249 – or follow the Borrowdale livestream on UTube via ClockingTheGallop.

When available card changes will appear on this site, together with links to the online race card, tips and, hopefully, the livestream.

Photograph by Gavin MacLeod.

Just Carry On Punting – For Fun

The recent OK Grand Challenge race meeting at Borrowdale Park had significantly larger fields than we have become used to.

Personally, I am quite happy with 8 to 10 runners – less reason for bumping and boring – but owners want their horses to race, and punters enjoy the challenge.

Surprisingly, the nominations for the June 23rd meeting number 92, with 24 horses entered for the 1700m MR 65 Handicap. It remains to be seen how many will stand their ground, but assuming we end up with a field of 18, what could we learn from the 2021 OK Grand Challenge, run over 1800m on June 5, with a field of 18?

Prior to that race I agonised over wide draws – something I haven’t been too bothered about of late. However, on the day, the first 10 horses across the line were drawn 9, 1, 6,10, 20, 12, 13, 2, 19 and 3, respectively. Weight was also an issue, but really? Referring to the first 10 again, they carried 55.5, 59, 52, 54.5, 56.5, 56.5, 56,5, 54, 52 and 54.5 kgs.

The Tote favourite for the OK Grand Challenge was Holy Land, drawn 6, and only carrying 52 kgs – which ticked all the boxes – and he finished third – while Finchatton (9) and Peggson (1) finished in front of him giving away 3.5 and 7 kgs. Although Peggson was drawn 1 he lost two lengths at the start which cancelled that advantage.

So, what can we assume moving forward? Be pleased if the horse you fancy has a good galloping weight and is drawn well – but don’t despair when that doesn’t happen because ability also counts a great deal.

One can also put one’s faith in a lucky pin and just carry on punting for fun.

Photograph by Andrew Philip.

FINCHATTON – 2021 OK Grand Challenge (GR2) Champion

For the two Gokhan Terzi yards Saturday’s OK Grand Challenge race meeting was an unforgettable experience.

Apart from saddling the winner of the OK Grand Challenge – Finchatton – Terzi also sent out the winners of seven of the eight races on the Borrowdale Park card. Has that been equalled at a local race meeting before?

Finchatton is a nine-year-old gelding by Right Approach (GB) out of a Fort Wood (USA) mare.  This was his third outing at Borrowdale and in his previous start he was a close second to Daffiq in the 1600m Independence Trophy.  Finchatton has now won 8 races and was bred by Wilgersbosdrift.

Congratulations to the owner Gengiz Goksel and winning jockey Diego de Gouveia, as well as to Gokhan and Wilgersbosdrift. The minor places went to Peggson, Holy Land and Fareeq – and Terzi trains Holy Land and Fareeq. Winning margins 0.50 lengths, 0.50 lengths, 1.50 Lengths. TIME: 106.11sec.

The Bridget Stidolph-trained Peggson also rates special mention having lost about three lengths at the start but managing to finish within half a length of the winner who was receiving 3.5 kgs.  I still don’t know how he did this.

OK Zimbabwe sponsor this prestigious 1800m event and must also be congratulated for pressing ahead, regardless, in these difficult times. 

Photographs by Laurent Viguie

Most OK Fans Will Watch From Home

As COVID-19 restrictions remain in force in Zimbabwe most of us will be watching Saturday’s OK Grand Challenge race meeting at Borrowdale Park from home – and, if this cold snap continues, I will not complain about that!

There will be TV coverage on DSTV Channel 249 but this will probably be limited as there is so much going on in the racing world right now. In addition, I believe ZBC/ZTV will be covering racing from 3.00pm to 4.30pm on Saturday.

If you can, the best bet is to tune in on TV, but also go online with a laptop or PC and view the Borrowdale Livestream on U-Tube via Clocking The Gallop. Links to the Livestream will be posted here when available. This way one can keep tabs on everything that is going on.

The first race is due off at 12.05pm and the $70 000 OK Grand Challenge is at 16.00pm. There are 8 races on the card so make your plans and have a great day.