This is the last race of our 2019/2020 season and one of our jockeys will be writing his name in Zimbabwe racing’s history book. Guess who?
The first race is due off at 11 10 am – so start looking for the live stream from SandSport LIVE at around 11 am. There will be a link on this site, also on Zimbabwe Owners & Trainers (@zimracing) – and on Zimbabwe Owners & Trainers (@racinginzim) if you are a Facebook fan. Follow the navigation menu above for the live stream, tips and online race card.
COVID-19 restrictions still apply but it will be a great day.
Gary Carter, Chairman of the Mashonaland Turf Club, has issued the following statement:
‘To all of the stakeholders in Borrowdale Park Racing.
‘It is with regret that I have to inform you that the next meeting on Sunday 19th July will not be aired on Telly Track as has been the norm for many years.
‘Following the implosion of Phumelela and the changing of the guard at the top of the organisation, the MTC has been working hard to come to a working arrangement that firstly recognizes the legacy issues between the two organisations but also provides a framework of how we could work together now whilst resolution is being sought on these issues.
‘The investment that MTC has made in new technology now allows the club to stream the meeting in HD on social media platforms and these will be available on Sunday @Sand Sport live on FB and @zimracing (Racing at Borrowdale Park in Zimbabwe) Facebook pages.
‘In addition to not taking the Borrowdale Park feed, Phumelela has taken the decision to suspend Tote betting on Borrowdale Park. A decision the MTC does not understand as it provided a risk-free revenue stream for Phumelela without the attendant costs involved in hosting a race meeting. We will continue to talk to Phumelela in an effort to restore this mutually beneficial relationship but the MTC is also exploring other exciting opportunities that will become available across more FB platforms and You Tube platforms and direct to bookmakers should we not be able to conclude an agreement with Phumelela/ Telemedia in the near future.
‘My apologies for the temporary inconvenience that this may cause our supporters but the MTC will overcome this temporary setback as it has overcome every other setback thrown at it in the last few years.’
(The live stream from SandSport will be on this site.)
THE CENTAURIAN is a columnist covering international racing on a Facebook page. However this time Borrowdale Park gets one of the few bouquets he has been handing out recently.
Followers of my column on Facebook (@zimracing) will know that I hold American horse racing in very low esteem and they may even believe my views are ill founded and too emotive. These are fair assumptions but are wholly wrong. It is opportune to illustrate my feelings now as we have just seen the running of two well publicised race meetings – the Breeders Cup at Santa Anita and the Melbourne Cup at Flemington in Australia.
The meetings could not have been more different.
We could talk about many aspects of the race meeting – the publicity and hype for both was high, the quality of horses was just OK for both meetings, jockey quality was very good – Frankie did both meetings for example, the purses were excellent – circa US$ 6 million for both top races and then there was the attendance levels.
I think attendance might say much about the product. Interestingly both meetings attracted about the same number of racegoers – about 41,000 on each day – but this is down on past peaks at both meetings of 60,000 – saying something about the image of racing. This aspect is the subject of another article – where I will be castigating the media and the limp-wrists! But it’s the courses I want to talk about – they could not be more different. Flemington is a big, sweeping turf, galloping track with a circumference of over 2,100 metres and a straight of over three furlongs – this is proper racing. One fairly tight turn at about the 2000 metre post – but nowhere near a hazard being so far from home when horses are not flat out.
The Melbourne Cup was won by Vow And Declare ridden by Craig Williams for Aussie trainer Danny O’Brien at 10/1 – Master of Reality with Frankie aboard ran a close second before being demoted to fourth by the stewards. Interestingly for me, this horse is by Frankel who never raced beyond 2000 metres – but look at its dam – L’Ancresse – a Darshaan mare – this is where the stamina must have come from to see out two miles (3200 metres)
Can you believe that after such a race the first 23 home were covered by just 10 lengths – Rostropovich spoilt the stat by cracking a pelvic bone and basically pulled up. The first nine home were covered by just two lengths – again this is proper, heart pumping, exciting racing of the highest order – and I don’t often say such things about Australian sport – but this was a terrific race.
Now consider Santa Anita. To me it would be better if they raced whippets there – it’s a toy by comparison to Flemington or Borrowdale Park. The dirt track is just 1600 in circumference and the straight is about a furlong and a half – or 350 metres. Madness. The grass track is actually inside the dirt track and has commensurately diminutive distances – what nonsense is this?
The track is a tight one with two sharp bends at either end of 400 metre straights with horses travelling flat out whilst running on the second bend before the short finishing straight. The lateral forces on these horse’s legs must be severe and injury inducing – and clearly are.
Vino Rosso beat MacKinzie because the latter could not stay the 2000 metre Classic distance – and jockey, Irad Ortiz put four lengths between to two – so there were no “also rans” within two lengths of the winner and only two within 10 lengths of the winner!
Despite the size of the purse there were only 11 runners competing. (Mongolian Groom broke down and had to be put down)It was pretty clear as the horses turned into the straight there were only two horses going to contest the finish and that was about as exciting as watching Jeremy Corbyn trying to make a point in Parliament. This is dire, dire racing indeed and is typical of what can be seen in America.
For me, it can’t be about anything other than the tracks because the bloodlines, the jockeys, the trainers, the purses are fine – it’s these pitiful, dangerous, badly thought out tracks of dirt – I haven’t researched them all yet I can say they are pretty much the same. Rubbish.
In my view, American horse racing does not have what it takes to survive, let alone prosper in its current format – and certainly not when the element of gambling is added back in against all else on the internet. Finally, with the issues of Lasix, whip use and horse fatalities, I guess the nails are already in the coffin lid of US racing – it won’t take much to close that lid, hammer in the nails and bury the whole thing – and what a tragedy that would be over the next few decades.
The answer has to be about revamping the concept completely – the wheel doesn’t need reinventing – the examples are there in abundance – across Europe, Southern Africa and the Antipodes. Make American racing great again Donald!
See what I mean about tracks in the pics included here.
Island Farewell, trained by Robin Smith and ridden by Kleintjie Badenhorst, epitomises, for me at any rate, all that is required of a Triple Crown winner.
Not only was she the first to wear Zimbabwe’s Triple Crown in 1983, I knew her personally, she looked the part, gave me one of the most anxious moments ever endured on a racecourse, but lived up to expectations – oh what joy.
Back in the day the stables at Borrowdale Park were occupied by Collen Nicholson, Jackie Booth, George Uren, Haaken Mordt, as well as Robin and Keith Chant. The Smith and Chant yards, back-to-back, were in a new block and in those good old days we all liked each other quite a lot (except on race days). We talked, watched and listened, and usually knew, more-or-less, what was afoot.
Dubbles Draper, Charles Purchase and Neil Bruss stabled their strings out of town, so were more difficult to keep tabs on. Penny Fisher had stables further out on the Borrowdale Road, and Major Jack Perry was close enough to walk his string to the course every morning – but you had to be up with the larks and out on the track at dawn to keep up with his first string.
Most of the trainers had some competitive horses, but it was evident that Island Farewell, by Jamaica, was as three-year-olds go, something rare.
Once she had collected the first two legs of the Triple Crown the speculation began – could she or couldn’t she see out the Derby distance? Robin withdrew from most of the chit-chat – the pressure was on.
Meanwhile, as full-time racing editor at The Herald, I had a secret agenda. This was before the digital age and in the print media photographs had to be sent out and set on metal. I was determined to have a picture of Island Farewell, wearing a crown, so I stuck one on a photograph and sent it to the block makers.
Everything was set up and ready to roll before the big day. Only trouble was that with racing on a Saturday the Sunday Mail, not The Herald, had first bite at the results. Big problem.
Kleintjie Badenhorst takes up the tale:
“In the year Island Farewell won, she also won two fillies Classics that fell between the three races of the Triple Crown.
“I remember that on the morning of the Derby Janet and I were very nervous – and we looked at the newspaper only to see Island Farewell with a crown on her head.
“This came as quite a shock as Janet had been to a fortune teller some three months earlier and was told there was something with a crown on its head, but the clairvoyant did not know what it was.
“Janet did not understand what she was saying so totally forgot about it. Until we saw the newspaper.
“We knew then history was about to be made.
“There had been a few threats before the race about being taken out in the running. It was decided to drop in at the back of the field, to stay out of trouble, and when entering the straight to go wide and have a clear passage.
“But when we came to the straight I went right into the pack, the shortest way home.
“There was a wall of horses. I was very lucky that she was such a good horse, we saw a gap and took it. It was very tight, but she burst through and the rest is history.
“I really hope Sygone will be able to complete the Triple Crown – it is very special.”
From where I was standing that wall of horses Kleintjie refers to seemed impenetrable – there was no way Island Farewell could win – but there she was streaking up to the line.
The crowd went wild – the owners, Tom and Sue Beattie, were there, with Robin, to welcome their filly in the Parade Ring. What a day!
Everyone who races at Borrowdale Park is aware that we need more people – on the ground – placing bets – and enjoying themselves. The trouble is that racing newbies often find it rather intimidating – because they don’t understand what it is all about, and they don’t come back.
Jackie Cocksedge and I have produced an e-Book for racing beginners but as there is no money in the kitty to circulate this e-Book we are hoping the racing in-crowd will do their bit to spread it around Harare – by email, on Whatsapp and by any other innovative means you can dream up.
It would be appreciated if those of you who do Facebook would share the relevant post from either @racinginzim or @zimracing. When the TBA closed, that announcement was seen by 74 000. Why are we only motivated when the news is grim?
If you are reading this email there is probably nothing in the e-Book which will be new to you, but please pass it on to everyone you feel might be slightly interested.
Many thanks for your help.
Please follow the link below to view and obtain your free copy of RACING IN ZIMBABWE. As it is in pdf format it is easy to view in your browser and quick to download. Or alternatively, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with e-book in the subject line.