Right now, one can only wonder what people in Zimbabwe are doing for fun.

Electricity comes on very late at night and is turned off long before dawn. Announcements about foreign currency have added to the abba jabba doo effect – and have not been conducive to coherent thought about racing or anything else.

Although I might get up at 3 am to cook the dogs’ food, I am unwilling to crouch over my PC, in the middle of the night in mid-winter, to check out form. Of course, I could, with a magnifying glass, study past form printed in the back of the official race cards, but that’s another mind-boggling exercise.

There are eight races at Borrowdale Park this Sunday – the first due off at 12.55 pm – and no doubt we can look forward to some exciting finishes and the usual race day fun. However, as far as predictions go, you are on your own.

Strangely, perhaps, racegoers seem to like tips and previews. Regular punters, I suspect, don’t take too much notice, apart from thinking, ”What is he, she or it smoking now?” Those who don’t take their racing as seriously may miss the usual build-up but do not worry…your guesses this time will be as good, if not better, than mine.

Several of the carded runners on Sunday have been nominated for the 1900m Republic Cup (the last of Borrowdale’s big three) on July 13. Many raced at the last meeting on June 15 so, if desperate, get up very early and view the race videos which have been posted on the Mashonaland Turf Club website.

In the meantime, I will spend my day reading books I have read before as an alternative to digging up the garden. Life without Twitter and WhatsApp etc is quite awful but noisy generators are not my thing.

Oden adds to the drama

Oden, three-year-old son of Oratorio (IRE), kept us guessing in the 1200m MR 79 Handicap on Saturday.

He broke through the pens and had to be reloaded and then lost many lengths at the start. It seemed it was not going to be his day as he tailed the field – and then burst through to record an incredible finish.

At the wire he was 1.25 lengths clear of Butchie Boy and I am not sure how he and Hennie Greyling did it. Will have to watch the replay.

Bred by Mr A C Dickerson, Oden is owned by Gengiz Goksel and trained by Penny Fisher. He has now won four races and there must be more to come.



It has been a while since Adrian Nydam commentated at Borrowdale Park but he was back to his best in the last race on Saturday.

Give him something to work with and Adrian can raise the excitement level by 100 decibels, and he was given that in the 1700m MR 70 Handicap – won by Three To Tango by an astonishing number of lengths.

Bugatti Blue went onto the pace – and he was motoring, When it looked as if he had stolen a march on this field his stable mate, Three To Tango, took up the running and left the pack for dead. I thought 1700m was a tad short for Three to Tango but how wrong can one be.

Roman Discent was second, followed by Bush Pilot and Action Jackson.

This victory gave the Swanson yard their fourth winner on Saturday. Three To Tango is owned by Mr C M and Mrs E B Shepherd, Mrs K Bonthrone and Mr J Koumides. By Greys Inn (USA) he was bred by Geoff Armitage. Congratulations everyone.


Mia Finola by Var (USA) led from start to finish to win the 1800m Silver Slipper (L), comfortably, at Borrowdale Park this afternoon.

Trained by Bridget Stidolph and ridden by Mathew Thackeray, the three-year-old filly is owned by Newbury Racing (Pty) Ltd (nominee Dennis Evans). She was bred by Piemonte Stud.

Adrian Nydam called this race which didn’t stretch his commentating skills too far with only three horses in the race.
Mornington Sheila ran second, followed by Missy Franklin.

Congratulation to the winning connections.

Honours in the first race of the day – an 1100m Maiden Plate – went to Street Party with Apprentice Munashe Josi in the irons. Josi is the first of the present batch of Borrowdale apprentices to bring home a winner.

Street Party is owned by Rosemary Dorward and trained by Bridget Stidolph. This Fencing Master (GB) gelding was bred by Sunmark Thoroughbreds in Zimbabwe.


The main race at Borrowdale Park on Saturday is the 1800m Silver Slipper (L) with a field of four where Mia Finola must surely be a banker.

The daughter of Var (USA) has five wins from 14 starts to her credit and takes on one-time winners Missy Franklin, Mornington Sheila and Ineffable at level weights.

Mornington Sheila, by Duke Of Marmalade (IRE) shed her maiden certificate over 1600m at the last meeting and it will be interesting to see how she fares this time. She is trained by Kirk Swanson who saddled five winners on OK Grand Challenge day.

The first race on Saturday is due off at 13 15 pm.


There are four apprentice jockeys – Munashe Josi, Rodgers Satombo, Omeara Rusike and Walter Shumba – riding at Borrowdale Park and collecting qualifying rides.

Unfortunately, due to the small fields and a limited number of races, they do not get as many opportunities as they might at a larger centre, but at the last meeting, Rodger Satombo came close to recording his first win.

Cool Solution (Satombo) went down by a whisker to stable companion Supa Memories over 1260m on June 1, and this pair team up again in the 1200m MR 60 Handicap on Saturday. Of course, it is another race and another day, but plenty of people will be hoping Rodgers makes it to the Number One Box this time.

This is quite a competitive field and Omeara Rusike on Switchblade must also have a chance.


When she made her move there was no catching the flying Simona in the 1800m OK Grand Challenge at Borrowdale Park this afternoon.

Trained by Bridget Stidolph and with Calvin Habib in the irons, the five-year old Gimmethegreenlight (AUS) mare won this race in 2018 – and came to the fore again today.

She is owned by the Newbury Racing Syndicate (Pty) Ltd (nominee Mr D E Evans), and was bred by Nadeson Park.

Fareeq, with Hennie Greyling up, valiantly tried to close the widening gap, and he was followed across the line by Verdier and Peggson.

This was Simona’s 10th victory.

No Predictions Just Observations

It is OK Day at Borrowdale Park on Saturday where the RTGS 70 000 OK Grand Challenge (GR2) will be run over 1800m.

After a disastrous attempt to predict the outcome of the recent 2000m Castle Tankard (GR1) – won by Peggson – I will confine this strictly to observations.

Last year the OK Grand Challenge was won by Simona ((53.5 kgs) who beat Peggson (52 kgs) by two lengths. Both line up again on Saturday but carry more weight this time, and are drawn wide.

With the exception of In The Mood and Coachella, the rest of the runners in Saturday’s big race took part in the Tankard, and the less said about how most finished the better. Leven Point, Fareeq and Arte were placed.

On second thoughts Wolves Among Sheep did not actually take part in the Tankard as he broke through the pens and bolted – and was subsequently withdrawn. Let’s hope for better luck this time.

In The Mood comes into this race fresh off a hat-trick of wins over 1800m, but steps up in class here. This four-year-old Bold Silvano filly has heart so we shall see.

The inclusion of Coachella – Zimbabwe’s top-rated sprinter – is a bit of a surprise. Earl of Surrey, best over sprints and middle distance races, managed to win the Zimbabwe Triple Crown, so maybe we should not overlook Coachella.

He runs off a Merit Rating of 103 and will carry top weight of 61.5 kgs on Saturday. Peggson and Simona are rated next best and will carry 56.5 kgs and 56 kgs respectively.

Perhaps we are in line for another huge Quartet. The Tankard Quartet paid RTGS 23 811.20!

This is sure to be an interesting race. May all the runners perform well and return safe and sound.

Photograph by Andrew Philip


Dubbles Draper hadn’t been seen at Borrowdale Park for quite a while but returned to the scene of her former triumphs on 2019 Castle Tankard Day, accompanied by her family. In 1983 Dubbles trained the Castle Tankard winner, Little Chief, for Mr & Mrs L W Baldwin and Mrs L M Corser, And, if my memory is correct, also saddled Pin Royal, who ran second.

Jackie Cocksedge recently visited Dubbles to catch up on old times and capture some details about a family steeped in the thoroughbred tradition – and still going strong. As time passes it becomes harder to record times past. Thank you, Jackie:

“Audrey Mary Silcock made her entry into the world on the 16th August 1922 at Colesberg, in the heart of Karoo country in South Africa.

“Her parents Mary Josephine “Lassie” (nee Wilmot) and Sidney Silcock were farmers and horse breeders in the region. Sid came out to Africa from Albury in Norfolk as a young man at the invitation of his older brother, Joe, and found employment with Henry Nourse, at that time reputed to be the largest racehorse owner in the world.

“Sid Silcock founded Starston, about 20 kilometres from Colesberg, quite near to the Orange River, after leaving the service of the remarkable but highly fastidious Nourse, in around 1933. Dennis, Dubbles’ elder brother, subsequently started his own farming career working for the astute Raymond Ellis, at Hartford Stud, which then occupied the land subsequently acquired by Gary Player. Dennis who became an expert on the soils and plants of the Karoo, after returning from a lengthy period of incarceration, after World War II, set up Knoffelfontein on Starston’s boundary.

“As a child of 5, Audrey followed her father everywhere on her chubby little legs, and he would call to her “Come on Dubbly Wubbly, keep up”. The nickname Dubbles stuck, and she has been known by that ever since.

“Dubbles recalls growing up in Colesberg and from a very early age being horse mad. As she said she would ride any horses she could lay her hands on. An early memory she treasures is that she had a pet nanny goat, that was orphaned, named Nancy. Her father made a little cart, and a bridle to fit the goat, and Dubbles spent many happy hours being pulled in the cart by Nancy until her father put a stop to it because her route involved the road to the post office and the traffic was deemed dangerous. Apparently, Nancy was also banished as she ate the washing.

“Growing up Dubbles took to schooling polo ponies, and a chance introduction through the Worsley-Worsick family to Ella Lockie saw Dubbles visiting Rhodesia to stay with Ella and her sister Gwen, at Ellerslie Farm in Bromley. It so happened that the neighbours who farmed had a very successful young polo playing son, Bob, and at the age of 23 Dubbles became Dubbles Draper.

“The couple acquired a farm at Bromley, Woodleigh, where Bob did a bit of tobacco and raised a magnificent herd of Hereford cattle. Bob continued to play polo and in the 1950’s was the Rhodesian number one player in the era of Rodney Morris who captained the Rhodesian team from 1949 to 1960.

“Dubbles started riding work for Lord Kensington, who farmed nearby and had a small training track on his property. As a result, she met Dorothy Rutherford, a successful racehorse trainer based at Marandellas. Dubbles credits Dorothy with being the most influential person in her early days of training, giving very generous and helpful advice. With help and encouragement from family and friends, they put in a training track at Woodleigh, and so it started.

“At the height of her career as a trainer Dubbles says she probably had about 30-odd horses in training. Dubbles recalls she was blessed with very good patrons through the years, making special mention of Terry Cutter, Laurie Baldwin and Terry Hardy, who was a big supporter of her yard.

“We recalled the good old days when attending a race meeting was an occasion to dress up. In fact, all ladies sported hats and often gloves too. Dubbles says her late mother-in-law who lived with them, plus her mother who came to live with them after her father’s death in 1958, would not miss a race meeting and were always dressed to the nines.

“Bob and Dubbles only child, Leigh Josephine, also grew to love horses. She married Graham Carey whose family farmed in Bromley. After running the Windsor Stud for Terry Hardy in Ruwa, the young couple decided to try their fortunes in Cape Town and relocated to Somerset West. Tragically Graham was killed in a car accident in 1989, and Leigh plus two small children came back home to Woodleigh, where Leigh started a successful stud farm.

“After the farm invasions in 2002, Dubbles and Leigh moved to Harare and kept one mare with Diz Buckler at Sarahdane Stud. Mated to Fencing Master, the mare Click On produced a filly in 2015 which was named Solinski. Wanting to keep a small interest, the filly was syndicated and went into training with Kirk Swanson.

“Sadly, Leigh did not live to see Solinski excel on the track, winning the Zimbabwe Oaks, The Zimbabwe Derby and the Silver Slipper, and earn herself the title of Spey Bridge Champion Three-Year Old Filly 2016/17. Solinski has notched up 6 career wins and continues to bring much joy to Dubbles who watches her races on TV with keen interest.

“Dubbles lives with her granddaughter, Audra, her husband Dirk, and her great-grandchildren in Harare. Audra seems to have avoided the horsey bug but Dubbles’ grandson, Craig, and his wife Amanda are very hands-on, and recently joined the powerful Kieswetter set-up of Ridgemont/Highlands Stud Farm in Robertson in the Cape.

“As Craig says, “All said and done, a life amongst horses has always been a natural progression for me.””


I am sad to say that Dubbles Draper died in Harare a few hours after this article was posted. She will be missed by all who knew her.


John Koumides’ In The Mood, a four-year-old Bold Silvano filly, made it four in a row when winning the 1800m MR 70 Handicap on Castle Tankard Day.

Trained by Kirk Swanson, ridden by Raymond Danielson and bred by Summerhill Stud, In The Mood is among the nominations for the 1800m OK Grand Challenge to be run at Borrowdale Park on June 1st. Will she hang in there?

The Swanson stable won the 1700m Maiden Plate earlier with Ineffable, by Alado (GB). The filly stumbled coming out of the pens but put that behind her. Wesley Marwing was in the irons and the three-year-old is owned by Messrs C & B Kieswetter and Mr C M & Mrs E B Shepherd, Mrs K M Bonthrone and Mrs D J Swanson.

Good to see the Kieswetters on course on Tankard Day.

Photograph by Zimbabwe Equine News.