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.
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.
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.
Bridget Stidolph has a remarkable record in the OK Grand Challenge (GR2) having trained the winner of this 1800m event in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. She first won this race with Duffy’s Call, then Royal Honour, before Simona collected the OK Grand Challenge honours twice.
On Saturday Bridget will saddle Peggson, Wantage and Only Him – and possibly Fortuna Doro and Christofle – who will only get a run if there are late scratchings. At present Fortuna Doro and Christofle are listed as the Reserve Runners 1 and 2 respectively.
Will this yard do it again?
2 Drawn 1 PEGGSON 59kgs (MR98) PENNY
6 g Jay Peg – Pistol Dawn by Tara’s Halls (SNL). Peggson has won 9 races from 1200m to 2000m, the most notable being the 1600m Ipi Tombe Stakes (L) and the 2000m Castle Tankard (Gr1) in 2019, and the 2000m Breeders Champions Cup (L) and the 1800m Borrowdale Challenge in 2020. Although he has not won the OK Grand Challenge, Peggson ran second to his stable companion Simona in 2018 and 2019. He has proved he can carry weight and win and has a good draw for Saturday providing he gets off to a good start and doesn’t lose his position. His last outing was in the Independence Trophy on May 2.
6 Drawn 13 WANTAGE 56.5kgs (MR93) GOULD
4 g Ato – Angora by Tamburlaine (IRE). Wantage has won 7 races from 1200m to 2000m, including the 1600m Tote Free Handicap and the Guineas Trial, as well as the 2020 Zimbabwe 2000, second leg of the Triple Crown. He was second to Lily Blue in the other two legs of the Triple Crown, namely the Zimbabwe Guineas and the Zimbabwe Derby. As a four-year-old Wantage has lived up to that early promise. He won the 1600m Ipi Tombe Stakes in March, beating Saturday’s runners Mr Greenlight, Three To Tango, Yarraman, Bugatti Blue, Fareeq and Peggson, at level weights. His next victory was in the 2000m Breeders Champions Cup (L) and once again Mr Greenlight, Yarraman and Three To Tango followed him across the line. At the last race meeting Wantage was second to Love To Bluff over 1260m. He deserves respect and I wish he had a slightly better draw this time.
16 Drawn 19 ONLY HIM 52kgs (MR84) STEYN
3 g Mambo In Seattle (USA) – Only Emily by Captain Al. Only Him, having his second start at Borrowdale Park, made a name for himself when he held on to narrowly beat the more fancied Diesel And Dust in the 2400m Zimbabwe Derby on May 16. Prior to that this lightly raced three-year-old had won over 1400m at the Vaal. Hopefully, he will get a chance to prove his worth on Saturday – from a dreadful draw.
19 Drawn 18 FORTUNA DORO 52.5kgs (MR85)
5 m Pomodoro – Fortunes Hand by Elliodor (FR). Won at the Vaal over 1450m and 1600m, and at Borrowdale over 1450 and 1500m. Her last outing was in a 1500m Pinnacle Plate on May 2 when a length behind Holy Land who was receiving 1.5kgs.
20 Drawn 17 CHRISTOFLE 52kgs (MR84)
6 g Tiger Ridge (USA) – Malmaison (AUS) by French Deputy (USA). Christofle won the 1100m Hachiman Sprint in 2020 and 7 of his other 8 wins have all been in sprints. However, his last outing was on May 2 when 1.50 lengths off Holy Land over 1500m. Fareeq and Fortuna Doro were in front of him then but there wasn’t much in it. However, I have yet to be convinced that Christofle will shine over more ground.
Over the years the Swanson yard has had a fair share of big races successes. For the 2021 OK Grand Challenge to be run over 1800m at Borrowdale Park on Saturday they have thrown two seasoned campaigners, the 2019 Zimbabwe Derby winner, and two top-performing three-year-olds into the mix.
Three of the five Swanson entries have good draws but unfortunately Three to Tango and Borrowdale’s favourite filly, Dindingwe, have drawn wide, and at the time of writing only two jockeys have been declared.
These are the Swanson runners:
5 Drawn 20 THREE TO TANGO 56.5kgs (MR93) TAKAWIRA
5 h Greys Inn (USA) – Danseuse by Joshua Dancer (USA). A winner of 6 races, including the 1600m Tote Free Handicap and 2400m Zimbabwe Derby, consistently placed, and always an interesting runner. On December 20 he won a 1900m Pinnacle Plate in a tight finish with Wantage, who was receiving 1.5kgs. Yarraman was two lengths back (giving away 4.5kgs), and this trio meet at level weights on Saturday. Peggson and Fareeq followed. Three To Tango’s last race was in the Independence Trophy on May 2 when third to Daffiq. He has to cope with a wide draw here.
8 Drawn 5 WHAT A DANDY 56kgs (MR92) No jockey declared
6 g Just As Well (USA) – Leba (IRE) by King’s Best (USA). One of Borrowdale’s super troopers who has won 11 races from 1000m to 1800m. A versatile and consistent sort who has yet to crack a big one – and I would love to see him do it. He has a good draw for Saturday’s race so maybe.
12 Drawn 4 BUGATTI BLUE 54.5kgs (MR89) No jockey declared
6 g Traffic Guard (USA) – Vintage Event by Braashee (GB). Another reliable type who finishes in the money more often than not and has won seven races from 1700m to 2400m. Bugatti Blue will be comfortable in this company, has a nice draw and could go close on Saturday.
14 Drawn 2 DIESEL AND DUST 54kgs (MR92) DERERE
3 g Futura – Jalinga by Jallad (USA). Won his first start, a 1700m Maiden Plate on 24 February and his next outing was in the Zimbabwe 2000, second leg of the Triple Crown, which he won. On May 16, in the 2400m Zimbabwe Derby, Diesel And Dust was beaten 0.10 lengths by Only Him. There is no doubt this lightly raced three-year-old has ability and on Saturday we will see just how good he is.
15 Drawn 16 DINDINGWE 53KGS (MR90) No jockey declared
3 f Futura – Miss Delish by Jallad (USA). Dindingwe’s seven wins include the 1200m Champion Juvenile Stakes (Gr3) and the Breeders Fillies Mile (L), the Fillies Classic (first leg of the Triple Tiara) and the second leg, the 1800m Silver Slipper (L), as well as the Zimbabwe Guineas (Gr3). Her last outing was on 18 April when third behind Diesel And Dust and Mazikeen in the Zimbabwe 2000. This outstanding filly has plenty of fans who will be hoping for another scintillating performance, but she has to overcome a wide draw on Saturday.
Photographs by Jenny Stock, Gavin MacLeod and Andrew Philip.
Cash Time, a six-year-old gelding by Gimmethegreenlight (AUS) out of a Casey Tibbs (IRE) mare, is here to take part in the $70 000 OK Grand Challenge at Borrowdale Park on Saturday – the only entry from down south.
The four-time winner raced at Borrowdale on May 16, over 1260m, but it is better to draw a line through that as the distance was far short of his best, and the gelding had just travelled from Gauteng. He has won over 1600m, 2000m and 2600m and been placed 11 times in 35 starts, earning R542,675.
Cash Time has drawn 7 for Saturday’s 1800m event, will carry 52 kgs, and Wes Marwing has the ride. His trainer, Ashley Fortune, is from Zimbabwe and her husband, Andrew, rode regularly at Borrowdale for Gokhan Terzi a few years back.
It is safe to assume that Ashley hasn’t sent her charge all this way for a fun run so Cash Time is a must for exotics.
The US$70 000 OK Grand Challenge (GR 2) will be run over 1800m at Borrowdale Park on Saturday. It seems there will be 18 runners and at this stage it looks as if the two Gokhan Terzi yards will field nine of them.
The Kirk Swanson stable’s five OK acceptors include the top three-year-olds, Diesel And Dust and Dindingwe, while Bridget Stidolph wIll send out Peggson, Wantage and Only Him – with Fortuna Doro and Christofle in reserve should there be any scratchings. Cash Time, trained by Ashley Fortune is the only South African acceptor.
A full field of 18 has become a rarity at Borrowdale so the draw regains importance, and punters have work to do, so let’s have a look at the Terzi runners – for a start.
1 Drawn 14 TANDAVA 60.5kgs (MR101) – No jockey declared.
8 g – Century Stand (AUS) – Davuli (ZIM) by Kitalpha (USA). Last start was at Borrowdale on the 28 August 2020 when third behind Fareeq and Yarraman at level weights over 1450m. Winner of 9 races in Gauteng and at Borrowdale from 1000m – 1900m, including the 2019 Republic Cup (Gr3) at Borrowdale Park. At his best Tandava would be a strong contender but has not raced for nine months.
3 Drawn 11 DAFFIQ 58.5kgs (MR97) SAMPSON
7 g – Silvano (GER) – Crown Office (USA) by Horse Chestnut – Won over 1450m at Turffontein and has won three races at Borrowdale from 1200 – 1600m. His last outing was on May 2 when he won the Independence Trophy, beating OK runners, Finchatton, Three To Tango, Yarraman and Peggson.
4 Drawn 8 MR GREENLIGHT 58kgs (MR96) HERHOLDT
5 g – Gimmethegreenlight (AUS) – Rakara by Rakeen (USA). Won twice over a mile at Greyville and has won five races at Borrowdale from 1000m to 1600m. Last time out was on April 4 in the 2000m Breeders Champions Cup (L) when 3 lengths off Wantage who was receiving 2 kgs. Yarraman and Three To Tango were further back.
7 Drawn 13 YARRAMAN 56.5kgs (MR93) GREYLING
6 g – Await The Dawn (USA) – Leading Light (AUS) by Fantastic Light (USA). An 8-time winner from 1600m to 1900m including the Ipi Tombe Stakes (L) and the National Foods Cup in 2020. Has beaten the main players before but only managed minor placings in last four outings. His last race was fourth to Daffiq in the Independence Trophy on May 2. Distance suited so must be considered.
9 Drawn 9 FINCHATTON 55.5kgs (MR91) DE GOUVEIA
9 g – Right Approach (GB) – Rose Lipped Maiden by Fort Wood (USA). Has only had two starts at Borrowdale and last time out was a close second to Daffiq in the 1600m Independence Trophy when receiving 3 kgs. In his career Finchatton has scored 7 Wins and 17 Placings from 68 starts from 1400 to 2000m. Maybe the dark horse.
10 Drawn 15 GLADSTONE 55.5kgs (MR91) KADUMBA
4 g – Pathfork (USA) – Lupin (AUS) by Royal Academy (USA). Four of his five victories have been from 1100m to 1260m but in June 2020 Gladstone won a 1700m Novice Handicap, beating stable companions Fire To The Rein and Hold The Biscuit, when giving weight to the field.
11 Drawn 3 ARMSTRONG 54.5kgs (MR89) SCHWARTZ
5 g – Var (USA) – Walkingonthemoon (AUS) by Galileo (IRE). Won once at the Vaal, beating Over Sharing, and he won his first start at Borrowdale on November 16, 2019, beating Born To Shine. Has subsequently won three from 1260m to 1700m and drawn 3 and with a handy galloping weight in the OK could finish in the money. His last race was on February 24 when second to Greenwood Drive (AUS) over 1700m, giving the winner about 7 kgs.
13 Drawn 10 FAREEQ (AUS) 54.5kgs (MR89) SIBANDA
8 g – Nadeem (AUS) – Azwa (AUS) by Haafhd (IRE). I have given up guessing what Fareeq might do. He has won five times from 1260m to 1800m – and his win over 1800m was in October 2019 when he beat Yarraman, who was receiving 4.5 kgs, by five lengths. Later Yarraman turned the tables but in August 2020 Fareeq scored again over 1450m, beating Yarraman by a length at level weights. Fareeq’s last outing was on May 2 when second to Holy Land in a 1500m Pinnacle Plate. That day Fareeq gave Holy Land 1.5 kgs and was three-parts of a length behind, with OK Grand Challenge Reserves, Fortuna Doro and Christofle further back.
18 Drawn 6 HOLY LAND 52kgs (MR83) MATSUNYANE
5 g Ideal World (USA) – Lalibela by Silvano (GER). Won a Maiden 1600 at Greyville in 2018, and in June 2020, won the 1600m Independence Trophy, beating Fareeq by three-parts of a length when receiving 1.5kgs. That day Three To Tango and Peggson finished third and fourth, and Holy Land was at that time trained by Thomas Mason. Latterly Holy Land has won his last two starts, over 1600m and 1500m. With a light weight and a good draw should finish in the money on Saturday.
This is a big race everyone wants to win, so watch this space for information about the rest of the OK Grand Challenge field.
Only Him, a recent arrival at Borrowdale, won the 2021 Zimbabwe Derby on Sunday, beating the more fancied Diesel And Dust in a tight finish.
By Mambo In Seattle (USA) out of a Captain Al mare, Only Him was having his second start in Zimbabwe and Bridget Stidolph’s charge was bred by Moutonshoek. He is owned by the Newbury Racing Syndicate (Pty) Ltd (nominee Mr D E Evans) who had a winner earlier in the afternoon when Prescott scored in the 1800m MR60 Handicap.
Although this wasn’t the Derby result most punters expected, jockey Teaque Gould’s strategic ride provided plenty of excitement. He and Only Him stole a march on the field soon after entering the straight, leaving Magnus Maximus and Diesel And Dust playing catch me if you can – and they couldn’t – although Kevin Derere’s mount, Diesel And Dust, almost made it. The winning margins were 0.10, 1.00 and 13 lengths.
Congratulations to the winning connections. The Stidolph yard had a good day winning five of the seven races on Sunday’s card.
Both Only Him and Diesel And Dust are among the 31 horses entered for the 1800m OK Grand Challenge (Gr3) at Borrowdale Park on June 5. It will be interesting to see if the three -year-olds stand their ground. The top three-year-old filly Dindingwe has also been nominated.
Photograph by Zimbabwe Equine News: The finish of the 2021 Zimbabwe Derby.
The Borrowdale Park racing community were shocked to learn of the passing of Mark Tunmer in Johannesburg yesterday.
Mark was a respected member of the Mashonaland Turf Club and an integral part of the Sunmark Syndicate for many years. He was also a successful businessman and will be sadly missed by a wide circle of friends.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Trish, his brother, Richard, and their families.
Rest in peace, Mark, after a life lived well.
Photograph by Rosemary Dorward: Mark Tunmer (centre), with other members of the Sunmark Syndicate when Casey’s Dance won the Zimbabwe Oaks.
When Diesel And Dust canters down to the start at Borrowdale Park on Sunday his connections will be hoping Futura’s capable son will complete a hat-trick of wins – in the 2021 Zimbabwe Derby, no less.
The three-year-old gelding has only raced twice and collected admirers on each occasion. His last outing was in the Zimbabwe 2000 on April 18 and he handled that trip well. Sunday’s race is over 2400m and none of the runners have tried that yet.
Diesel And Dust is from the Swanson yard, and he will be taking on his stable companions, Magnus Maximus and Rocquette. Bridget Stidolph will saddle Only Him, by Mambo In Seattle (USA), and a recent arrival at Borrowdale.
Also lightly raced, Only Him won over 1400m at The Vaal, and at the last Borrowdale meeting he ran two lengths off Hedwig over 1600m. Magnus Maximus, by Jackson, is a three-time winner – twice over 1200m, and the 1600m Guineas Trial on January 17 where he narrowly beat Obscure.
The Jay Peg filly, Rocquette, is still a maiden but has had several races around the turn. To date she has been somewhat unreliable but, in this field where the ability to stay the Derby distance has to be taken on trust, I am not discounting anyone.
This will certainly be an interesting race. Diesel And Dust has proved himself over 2000m and looks to be the one the others must beat.
Photographs: TOP: The finish of the Zimbabwe 2000 when Diesel And Dust defeated Mazikeen. BELOW: Magnus Maximus held off Obscure in the Guineas Trial.