Mahachi PaBorrowdale with Tatenda Gondo

BRENDON GLAD TO BE BACK RACING

Zimbabwe roared back to life at Borrowdale Park on Saturday and talented veteran jockey Brendon McNaughton had three rides.

Two were for 2019/20 champion trainer Gokhan Terzi, and one for Thomas Mason. Of these three rides two of them finished in the top three. Brendon’s first race back after the break was in the Pinnacle Plate run over 1200m on Golden Lion, trained by Terzi in his satellite yard.

Speaking to Mahachi PaBorrowdale, McNaughton said he had always had a soft spot for Golden Lion since the first time he saw him, therefore it was fantastic winning with Golden Lion.

 In the competitive Merit Rated 65 Handicap McNaughon finished third on Crown Brewed, behind Cool Solution and Hold the Biscuit. He was happy with the third as “the horse gave me his all, as I gave mine.”

Asked what he attributed his best finishes to on Saturday, McNaughton said,” I have ridden both horses before which always helps, and I have almost 14 years’ experience in horse racing.”

McNaughton believes this wasn’t a bad start and he is is happy to be racing again after a lengthy break. He intends to do his best with every opportunity given to him during the rest of this season.

Photograph by Zimbabwe Equine News

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Rodgers Satombo’s thrilling moment with Cool Solution

There is no secret so close as that between a jockey and his horse, and such is the story between Cool Solution and Rodger Satombo.

The young apprentice jockey has had many rides on the Swanson-trained horse – both at work and on the racecourse. This was the fifth time he climbed aboard Cool Solution to take part in a race.  Some of them quite disappointing, but they say there can be no deep disappointment where there is no deep love.

During Saturday’s race meeting the two teamed up again in the competitive Merit Rated 65 Handicap run over 1800m at Borrowdale Park. In what horse racing analysts described as the best finish of the afternoon, Satombo was chuffed when he knew he and Cool Solution had crossed the line first, ahead of Hold The Biscuit, Crown Brewed and Centre Stage.

“There’s nothing more thrilling than watching replays of the two of us crossing the line first” said an excited Satombo.

“All thanks to Mr and Mrs Swanson for trusting me with their horse again. I am very thankful and will forever be grateful for having such strong support from them.”

Photograph by Zimbabwe Equine News

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FIVE FROM SEVEN FOR THE SWANSONS

The much-anticipated return of racing to Borrowdale Park on Saturday October 17 resulted in a field day for Kirk and Debbie Swanson – the yard won five of the seven carded races.

Although it seemed like it, this was not the beginning of the 2020/2021 racing season.  That began on August 1, and race meetings were held at Borrowdale on August 26 and August 28.

The course was looking good on Saturday after the annual maintenance break. Kirk Swanson sent out 12 horses in six out of the seven events. In a ‘you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great’ scenario, the Swanson yard’s first win was in the 1200m Maiden Plate, race two.

 Norbert Takawira brought this one home with Magnus Maximums who outshone Veseo. Then came Varnica in the Merit Rated 70 Handicap run over 1260m. Takawira recording his second win of the day by half a length.  Titelist from the Stidolph yard came second.

With a weight advantage of 4kgs, apprentice jockey Rodgers Satombo, together with What A Dandy, proved determined to record Swanson’s third win of the day in the 1600m Merit Rated 85 Handicap.

Satombo scored again when clocking up the stable’s fourth win with Cool Solution in a competitive Merit Rated 65 Handicap run over 1800m.

Norbert Takawira’s experience was evident again as he rode True Beauty when winning the Jacaranda Free Handicap, finishing ahead of Dindingwe,  Willfull Path and Mind Master.

Photographs by Gavin MacLeod. ABOVE” Stable companions What A Dandy and Bugatti Blue in the MR 85 Handicap.  BELOW: Varnica from Titelist in the 1260m MR 70 Handicap.

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ALL ACTION AFTER THE BREAK

The top horses from last season and some from years before are spread throughout the seven races carded for Saturday’s Borrowdale Park in what should be an exciting return to racing after the annual break.

The card includes several larger fields and these should improve payouts to punters who have missed the Borrowdale Park Racecourse during the last seven weeks.

With horses such as Razna, Jenny’s Word, Love to Bluff, Fire to the Reign, Mr Greenlight, Cool Solution and Dindingwe, all in different races, it is surely a mouthwatering line-up.

The highlight of the afternoon is the main feature race, the 1200m Jacaranda Free Handicap which pits a newcomer to Borrowdale, Powder Puff, trained by Amy Bronkhorst, against some of Borrowdale’s best three-year-olds. Other contenders are Willfull Path, Dindingwe, True Beauty, Mind Master, Mazikeen and VainLikeThat.

Two Maiden Plates also add to the excitement of the day. These are for horses that are yet to win a race and all are hoping for their first ever first finish.

Photograph: Cool Solution all set for his 60th outing at Borrowdale.

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A VERY GOOD ‘YEAR’ FOR CHAMPION APPRENTICE SATOMBO

The 2019/2020 horse racing season ended a month ago in what had been one of the most exciting periods at Borrowdale Park Racecourse.

This season saw a number of young black apprentice jockeys excelling. O’Meara Rusike became the first female apprentice to win at Borrowdale and all the apprentices and black jockeys came to the fore following COVID-19 restrictions.

Third year apprentice jockey, Rodgers Satombo, shone. He was involved in 90 races and rode 13 winners, as well as several top four place finishes. He has been named Champion Apprentice of the 2019/20 season.

Asked if he remembered his first ever race at Borrowdale, Satombo said that all he remembers is that it was not exactly an exhilarating moment.

“I was literally sick to my stomach and shaking, and at some point I felt as if even the horse that I was riding was shaking too, maybe just because it was my first race.

”As a budding jockey I think I made plenty of mistakes along the way, however, I maintained my peak fitness, kept a steady posture, and paid careful attention to my horse’s previous outings.

“My first win was with Double Dab. I still can’t describe how it felt crossing the wire in front. My most memorable race was when I won with Tandava, after losing the stirrup iron coming out of the starting stalls. Thank God I somehow managed to bring it back and won the race. After that win I truly appreciate the fact that he is an amazing horse with a very good turn of foot.”

On being named the best apprentice jockey of the season Satombo attributes his success to Kylie Bonthrone. a high-performance equine physiotherapist and level 4 human sports therapist; Stride Free and Health Alliance.

“Without their support I honestly don’t think I would have won races. I also have to thank Swanson Racing, Vee Racing and all the owners for supporting me during this previous season.

“During this off season I am home relaxing and preparing for the start of the next horse racing season. I wake up every day at 5 30 am and start my fitness exercises. On Tuesdays and Fridays, I go to the academy where we have a wooden horse to practice on.

“This helps me a lot as I will also be maintaining my weight. I can’t afford to let my fitness levels drop at this stage. You know core strength is an absolute must, and so is fitness a test for all jockeys.”

Keep up the good work Rodgers Satombo and go well in 2020/2021.

21 September 2020

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IT’S A WRAP – UNTIL OCTOBER

On Friday Borrowdale Park hosted the last race meeting before the annual racing break, with 63 runners in a nine-race card and the first race was a 1100m Graduation Plate for three-year-olds.

The six runners represented three yards – Gokhan Terzi with four, and one each for Kirk Swanson and Bridget Stidolph.

Going into the race True Beauty and Mazikeen were favourites. The race began with all in a straight line, then Willfull Path under the capable hands of Morgan Nyamagwete had an early lead at the 800m mark.

Behind Willfull Path came Mind Master with Rodgers Satombo, True Beauty under Norbert Takawira and Mazikeen with Nikki Sibanda up. Safiyaa (Brendon McNaughton), and Jenny Bee with Bernard Mwindiwa up, were at the back.

True Beauty outpaced Mind Master to occupy the second position at the 600m mark. However, the  fast Willfull Path was still in control 400 metres out, followed by Safiyaa, Mazikeen and Mind Master.

Willfull Path was leading by a length at 200m, then Mazikeen proved why he was one of the favourites after he joined Willfull Path at the 100m mark. The last 50 metres saw Willfull Path bringing it home smartly for Bridget Stidolph.

‘We were a bit worried about her fitness after quite a long rest, so it was nice to have her winning this race’, Bridget Stidolph said. On the other hand, Nyamagwete was impressed with how Willfull Path was so determined to bring it home, especially in the last 300m.

WIDJAAN AND LOVE TO BLUFF FANCIED

A 1200m Merit Rated 80 Handicap was the second race of the day with six runners – Love to Bluff and Wljdaan being well fancied.

Love to Bluff (Nyamagwete) broke smartly but approaching the 800m mark it was In Good Time (*Satombo), with Wljdaan (Sibanda), Over Sharing (Takawira) in contention and Love To Bluff still leading the pack. Kilowatt Kid (*Josi) and Golden Lion (McNaughton) were further back.

At the 400m mark Love to Bluff put up a splendid performance outpacing Wljdaan and Over Sharing,  but by 300m it was In Good Time and Love to Bluff, with Wljdaan  between runners.

In Good Time, Love To Bluff and Wljdaan were head to head 100 metres out but a strong push by Nikki Sibanda saw Wljdaan winning for the Gokhan Terzi yard.

This was the first win of the day for Nikki Sibanda. Assistant Trainer Vanessa Birketoft said she was impressed with Wljdaan’s performance as she though Love to Bluff would win.

The 1450m Novice Plate got off on a slow start with Petroni Vini  (*Satombo) taking an immediate strong lead, followed by Milford Sound under Nikki Sibanda. Missy Franklin, recent winner Candy Cane, and Boatswain followed.

This race changed completely when Boatswain outpaced the front runners and by the 400 m mark he had a commanding lead.

Debra Swanson thanked ‘Progress for the effort he had put in working with Boatswain at home’, and also applauded Norbert Takawira on his winning ride.

Holy Land was a late scratching from the 1800m Allowance Plate and Bugatti Blue refused to load, so the field was reduced to five.  Legend dropped out of the race quite early on and the fancied Verdier and Mr Greenlight dominated, although Butchie Boy looked as if he might do something at one stage.

At the line Mr Greenlight (Sibanda) was clear of his stablemate Verdier, with Butchie Boy and Sygone filling the remaining places. The Gimmethegreenlight (AUS) gelding has now won both his starts at Borrowdale.

Vanessa said she knew Mr Greenlight would be up there at the front and she was happy that two of their horses fought out finish.

A DING DONG BATTLE

The 1600m Maiden Plate resulted in a ding dong battle approaching the finish between Farm Yard Tractor and newcomer to Borrowdale, Rapid Response, with the latter getting the verdict by a nostril. This gave the Stidolph yard its second winner, with Morgan Nyamagwete in the irons.

As Diamonds ‘n Rubies was scratched from the 1800m MR 65 Handicap, nine runners were left to battle it out, with Infinity Blue and Cool Solutions off to an early lead, soon to be overtaken  by Tree of Wisdom – a position he maintained, closely followed by DoubleOSevenAgain, Fire To The Rein, Cool Solution and Haga Haga. 

DoubleOSevenAgain (*Shumba) and Red Pollard (*Josi) pulled their magic at the 200m outpacing Tree of Wisdom, but finally It was a fight between Thomas Mason’s Crown Brewed, under Brendon McNaughton, and Red Pollard. This was a tight finish with the first 6 horses finishing within 2.65 lengths.

Apprentice Munashe Josi scored for Bridget Stidolph with Red Pollard. Bridget said this horse had come back from a very long layoff, and Munashe had ridden him well.

The first feature of the afternoon, the 1260m Mashonland Turf Club Sable Flyers was won by seasoned sprinter White Winter (Sibanda) in fine style – winning margin two lengths – followed across the line by stable companion Bam Bam Pebbles and then Varnica and Dunas Douradas.

This was the third victory on Friday for the Terzi yard (Vee Racing) and Nikki Sibanda, and congratulations to the winning owner, Gengiz Goksel.   

Tandava disappointed his supporters in the 1450m Pro Bar Breeders Sprint won by stablemate Fareeq, with Yarraman finish second ahead of Tandava and What A Dandy.  Nikki Sibanda had the winning ride again for Vee Racing – they saddled the first three horses home. Congratulations Gengiz Goksel.

A SPECIAL HORSE

Vanessa said Fareeq was a special horse, the eight-year-old by Nadeem (AUS) being the old man of the yard. Fareeq has now won eight races.

And, believe it or not, Nikki Sibanda picked up the ride on Zambezi Rapids for the Swanson yard in the last race, the Dean’s Catering MR 75 Handicap over 2700m – and won by seven lengths. Seattle Frost (Derere) was second, then came Flapjack and Designer Pot. Playing a waiting game paid off here as the front runners faded badly. Horseplay did not take part as he was not striding out on his way to the start.

So, five wins for Nikki Sibanda on the day. Well done.

It has been a long time since there were nine races on the card at Borrowdale.  However, with the annual racing break now, we have seven weeks in which to recover. The course will be scarified, racing staff get a well-earned rest, and horses have their injections.

Keep well, and  I hope to be with you again sometime in October.

28 August 2020

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That race – when the two apprentices, O’Meara Rusike and Rodgers Satombo, went head to head.

ONWARDS AND UPWARDS O’MEARA

Last year she became the first black female jockey to win a race at Borrowdale Park Racecourse, winning a 1100m MR 70 Handicap.

O’Meara Rusike relocated to South Africa after the decision was made to close the Apprentice Jockey Academy in Harare due to financial restraints. Luckily, O’Meara was offered a place at the academy in Durban.

Recently the young Rusike was given the green light to ride races in South Africa. Below is our interview with O’Meara.  Please note OMR means O’Meara Rusike whilst MB means Mahachi paBorrowdale.

MB: Take us through your journey at the South African jockey academy from day one up until you were given the green light to race.

OMR: It has been basically a lot of hard work, much as I expected it to be …Since day one I can assure you that I am way better than I was. I’ve become much stronger and more dedicated with help from the South African Jockey Academy. They have helped a lot and despite having this pandemic, I stayed in the academy with the other apprentices during lockdown, and I worked so hard along with the riding masters helping me in every corner and  at every step.

OMR: I started going to track a few weeks after racing was given the green light. That was when I started riding at least 15 horses per day – before it used to be at least 8. I’ve learned and improved my skills by doing that and I’m loving it. It was easy for me to adjust because I don’t settle for less…the more I ride the better jockey I can be.  It’s something that I’ve always wanted and because of being here and working the horses at the academy during the lockdown, I am prepared for riding more horses at track.

OMR: Waking up as early as 4am to go and do what I love is such a blessing, and I appreciate every moment , and every horse, as they are part of making me  a better and successful jockey.

MB: What have been your challenges and how did you manage to overcome or navigate them?

OMR: Of course, in everything you do there are one or two challenges, but I can say I’m like a horse with blinkers. I’m much more focused on the future and what’s in front of me, so I don’t welcome challenges to pull me down or distract me.  Whatever the situation may be, I stay positive.

MB: How does it feel been given the green light to race in South Africa?

OMR: It feels like a dream come true as I have been working hard and putting all my all efforts into achieve this goal.

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Veteran jockey Morgan Nyamagwete wins his first Zimbabwe Derby on Lily Blue

FIRST IMPRESSIONS ARE OFTEN WRONG

Friday’s race meeting at Borrowdale Park was the third since the government of Zimbabwe announced that low risk sports codes could resume, and RTGS 580 000 was up for grabs for stakes winners of the seven carded races.

Racing on Friday reminded me of the Lemony Snicket book ‘The Bad Beginning’. Snicket said, ‘I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong’. Such was the story on Friday for veteran jockey Morgan Nyamagwete.

The first race was a 1000m Juvenile Plate where Nyamagwete finished fourth on Obscure; in the second race of the day, the 1260m MR 60 Handicap, Born To Shine ridden by Morgan finishing ninth.

The 1260m Merit Rated 85 Handicap also proved difficult for Nyamagwete who finished last with Coastal Torrent. It really was a bad start for this jockey who has won 400+ races spread between Zimbabwe, Kuwait and Sudan.

Citrusdal, trained by Bridget Stidolph, was the game changer for Nyamagwete, when winning the 1700m Maiden Plate. Then with Flapjack, Morgan won the Merit Rated 70 Handicap – an 1800m race. 

Then came the big one. For the first time ever Morgan Nyamagweta won the Zimbabwe Derby with Lily Blue. The Zimbabwe Derby is run over 2400m.

‘It was a very good race meeting for me today, especially considering that I won my first Zimbabwe Derby’, Morgan said.

In the last race of the day, the Pinnacle Plate 100, Morgan finished fourth on Owlinthetree.

Nyamagwete told Mahachi PaBorrowdale that it quite difficult to race wearing a mask, but then equine safety and everyone’s welfare has been an important consideration.

‘Racing with fans motivates us, so we hope to see them soon at the racecourse once Covid-19 is declared over.

‘All credit for my wins today to the Stidolph racing team. All of my three winners are trained by Bridget Stidolph.  I would also like to dedicate the wins to my family. They have been quite supportive to my career.’

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KYLIE BONTHRONE – APPRENTICE MENTOR – SAYS IT’S ALL UPHILL FOR APPIES IN ZIM

Kylie Bonthrone is a high performance equine physiotherapist and  Level 4 Human Sports Therapist.

She has a BSc Hons in Equine Science and is the owner of Equestrian Performance.

Recently Equestrian Performance has helped a number of apprentice jockeys and in today’s epIsode Kylie talks about horse racing in Zimbabwe and also the much talked about apprentice jockeys that continue to shine at Borrowdale Racecourse.

Apart from horse racing, Kylie also helps in sports codes like Polo, Polocrosse, Dressage, Showjumping and Eventing.

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*RODGERS SATOMBO – COMING UP ROSES

For the second time since racing behind closed doors returned to Borrowdale Racecourse after COVID-19 sports restrictions, local jockeys had the chance to shine at Borrowdale. On Friday three of of the seven races were won by Apprentice Rodgers Satombo.

This was the highest number of wins coming from Rodgers Satombo at a meeting – his first career treble. On Friday Satombo had six carded rides but in the first race his horse was scratched. Then came the second race of the day, a 1200m Maiden Plate, with Petroni Vini, ridden by Rodgers, and trained by Vee racing, finishing first.  

In the Merit Rated 50 Handicap 1600m the young apprentice jockey won again with Supa Memories trained by Swanson Racing.  Then in the 1700m Novice Handicap (70) Rodgers recorded his second win for Vee Racing, and his third win of the day, with Gladstone finishing in front of Fire The Reign and Hold The Biscuit.

Just when we thought Satombo was about to record his fourth win in the Merit Rated 80 Handicap over 1800m, Nikki Sibanda spoiled the party winning the race with Action Jackson, leaving Arte ridden by Satombo, to finish second. Rodgers finished his day with a third place on Tree Of Wisdom in the Allowance Plate.

“I really can’t explain the feeling but what I do know is that I will never forget this day for the rest of my life. My first career treble,” he said.

Asked by ‘Mahachi PaBorrowdale’ how it felt racing without fans Rodger said “I feel like we are running trial races.”

He dedicated his three wins to Kylie Bonthrone and his sponsors, Fresh In A Box.

He has now won eight races.