The Borrowdale Park maintenance crew report that the “growth is good”, and have taken pics all around the racetrack…which is good news as there are only about three weeks to go before we resume racing.
At this time, each year, I tend to become slightly hysterical – will we ever race again? However, I am sure it will be alright on the night. The growth is certainly a lot better than my lawn!
This is a summary of the course preparation at Borrowdale Park for the new season.
After the last race meeting the course was rolled with spikes. This loosens up the soil and allows the fertiliser to penetrate the hard surface.
The MTC acquired 2.5 MT of AN Fertiliser to spread on the track, followed by watering to allow the fertiliser to be absorbed into the grass and the soil, The reason for this is we would be spreading the mulch (cut grass) over the track to provide cover and nutrients for the new shoots coming through. The watering process went on for 3 days after the fertiliser was laid to give enough time for it to take effect.
Once the fertilisation and watering process had been completed the cutting/”scarification” process commenced and will be completed by Saturday September 12, if all goes well with the equipment.
You can see that the mower is set at its very lowest to cut all the existing grass and thresh the roots to allow for new growth.
The picture above shows that the cut grass is left in lines by the tractor and this will be spread by rakes – See below to get an even spread.
The picture above is after the mulch has been spread across the cut.
The timing of this year’s course prep will hopefully stand us in good stead as we approach the rainy season and the natural time of growth for the grass. By the time the 18th of October comes around the course should be more than ready for the first race meeting.
As you well know the outside 15 metres of the course has not been used for a long time and that part of the course has become extremely hard, not much different to a dirt road. The MTC has hired a rotovator to try and revitalise this part of the course. See the pictures below
The above will not affect the current part of the track which is in use.
Thanks to the Mashonaland Turf Club for providing this information and congratulations to everyone involved – Merlyn Chant, Gyles Dorward, Charles Mubariki, Scott Buchan – and last but by no means least the MTC course maintenance team. Keep up the good work.
As most of you know racing at Borrowdale Park will not resume until October and the annual scarification (that awful word) of the course began on August 31.
I thought I had a reliable spy who would provide me with an essay on this process – not photographs and scrappy notes sent via WhatsApp. Fortunately, some of you probably know more about course maintenance than I do, and will be able to sort out the photographs (if in the wrong order), and the notes.
First of all the course was fertilised and watered, and “stripping” began several days later. Apparently, the watering etc goes first “to get the nutrients into the soil, and then the cuttings and mulch go on top waiting for growth to start.”
I think the pics are supposed to be self-explanatory as the only other info received so far was “All this will be swept across to make a nice covering – and then we water and the fertiliser is already in the soil.”
The photographs were taken nearly a week ago so we can assume everything is now much further forward and I await an update – anxiously.
Of course, I could go and have a look myself – but that would be far too scary.
Eight fillies and mares have accepted to run in the 1260m Sable Flyers (LR) at Borrowdale Park on Friday and, having learnt the hard way that finding a winner in this one is tricky, don’t expect any worthwhile predictions.
In my view, this 1260m event should be won by an obvious sprinter but In The Mood, by Bold Silvano and an 11-time winner who has won 8 races from 1600m to 1800m, proved me wrong in 2018 and 2019. She goes for a Sable Flyers hat-trick here. The five-year-old mare will carry 56.5 kgs after Apprentice Rodgers Satombo has claimed 4 kgs.
In addition to In The Mood the Kirk Swanson stable will saddle the three-year-old Var (USA) filly Varnica (Takawira 56 kgs), and a winner of two races over 1200m, as well as Dunas Douradas, second to In The Mood last year, and another who does well up to 1800m. This Byword (GB) mare has claiming Apprentice Walter Shumba in the irons and should weigh in at 50 kgs.
Vee Racing sends out White Winter, Moxie and Bam Bam Pebbles – quite a formidable trio – although White Winter is the obvious sprinter having won 6 races from 1100m to 1260m. By Warm White Night, this five-year-old carries 61 kgs and Nikki Sibanda is riding.
Dare I say that Moxie and Bam Bam Pebbles, just possibly, might prefer further?
Then Bridget Stidolph has thrown a spanner in the works with a Borrowdale Park first-timer, Targaryen Queen, a Jackson four-year-old with Apprentice Munashe Josi up. She has won two races over a mile and 1800m. Her last start was at the Vaal on 25 June.
Bridget has also entered Razna who has run twice at Borrowdale but won three in Gauteng from 1000 to 1200m. With Morgan Nyamagwete up Razna will carry 59.5kgs.
It is worth noting that this Gimmethegreenlight (Aus) four-year-old ran fourth to Golden Lion over 1200m at Borrowdale and was sandwiched between Varnica and White Winter. I am not going to talk about turnaround in weights, If any. If I had a race card to hand things might be easier.
This race is due off at 15.05 and could result in a worthwhile quartet – banking In The Mood and White Winter? Whatever you decide to do, do not listen to me.
Photographs by Zimbabwe Equine News. If the jockey has no mask the pics were taken iast year – and I can prove this.
We race at Borrowdale Park on Friday and the 9-race card includes the 1260m Sable Flyers, a Listed race for fillies and mares, and the 1450m Breeders Sprint.
All the runners in the Breeders Sprint, except for what A Dandy, will carry 60 kgs and Vee Racing (the Terzi satellite yard) has an extremely strong hand with Tandava, Yarraman and Fareeq. Bridget Stidolph enters the fray with Twilight Trip and the Swanson team fields What A Dandy.
TANDAVA, is drawn 3 and will have champion jockey Norbert Takawira in the irons. By Century Stand (AUS) this 8-year-old is extremely versatile with 13 wins in Gauteng and Borrowdale from 1000m to 1900m. He won this race on July 27, 2019, beating Twilight Trip by 6.55 at level weights. His last outing was on August 16 this year over 1000m, when beaten by Christofle (receiving 3.5 kgs) by .75 lengths. Twilight Trip was further back.
YARRAMAN, a five-year-old gelding by Await The Dawn (USA), has the number 1 draw and Brendon McNaughton aboard. He too raced in Gauteng before coming to Borrowdale and has 7 wins to his credit, from 1600m – 1900m. Difficult to find form over Friday’s distance but on March 10, 2019, Yarraman (receiving 2kgs) was two lengths clear of What a Dandy over 1400m.
FAREEQ by Nadeem (AUS) is drawn 2 and Nikki Sibanda rides. The 8-year-old gelding had two good wins at Turffontein over 1600m, plus two at Borrowdale over 1800m and 1260m. Quite interesting in Friday’s context are his performances in a 1260m MR 88 Handicap in February when he beat stablemate Silver Coin, and in July, over the same trip, when five lengths off Tandava at level weights. Fareeq’s last outing was on August 16 over 1600m when 4.25 lengths off stable companion, Armstrong, who was receiving 2.5 kgs.
TWILIGHT TRIP, drawn 4, is a -seven-year-old by Trippi (USA) and he will be piloted by Morgan Nyamagwete. He won three races in the Cape over 1600m, and two at Borrowdale over 1200m (the 2018 HRIB Gold Cup) and 1260m, when in February 2019 he beat Coachella by 3 lengths, receiving 9 kgs. His more recent form is not so spectacular but who knows. Twilight Trip’s last outing on August 16, when he was behind Christofle and Tandava over 1000m, came after a lengthy layoff.
WHAT A DANDY, drawn 5, has *Rodgers Satombo (claiming 4kgs) in the hot seat. This six-year-old gelding by Just As Well (USA) has won 8 races from 1000m to 1800m but has only tried the 1450m trip once, in March 2019, in a MR 68 Handicap. That race was won by Kilowatt Kid, Yarraman was second, and What A Dandy, giving Yarraman 2 kgs, was 2 lengths behind him. On Friday What A Dandy will have weight on his side and being one of my favourites I certainly would not ignore him here.
However, I am not feeling adventurous so I expect Tandava will win. The Breeders Sprint is due off at 15 40 on Friday, and the first race is at 11 35.
If you are watching from Zimbabwe the link may go down at some stage so look out for the new link if you suspect this has happened. Links will also be posted by SandSport LIVE and on Racing At Borrowdale Park In Zimbabwe and on Zimbabwe Owners & Trainers (on Facebook).
The Borrowdale Park race meeting scheduled for Sunday 9 August was postponed by the Mashonaland Turf Club on Saturday, at noon, because permission to race had not been received from the SRC – who in their wisdom must have felt there had been a breach of COVID -19 protocols somewhere along the line.
As I understand it the protocols mainly revolve around social distancing – and wearing of masks. This is in force around Harare but does not seem to apply to queuing for transport, queuing for maize meal and so on and so forth – all in confined areas. Masks are worn – and slipped down occasionally – because people need to breathe, or make themselves heard, now and again.
Borrowdale Park racecourse covers hundreds of acres so why not groups of 50 people spread at huge intervals around the course? Not that this has been happening.
At present, the size of the race fields is on average about 6 runners. But let’s say there could be 8 or 9, and that hasn’t happened often since March 27.
At the start of a race (far away from the stands and parade ring) perhaps there might be 12 handlers, 2 starters, 2 vets, 8 jockeys, 4 extras – totalling 28 – and all these figures are on the high side.
In the Parade Ring, before and after the race, there could be 8 jockeys, 4 trainers, 2 photographers, 10 grooms, 4 owners, 2 commentators, 2 stipes, 1 specimen collector– a total of 33 and also probably not so many in actual fact.
On the stands which could accommodate hundreds – all social distancing – only a handful, including some from the Parade Ring. So, what is the problem?
At each meeting, there are only 7 or 8 races – spread over about 4 hours.
A race meeting takes a lot of time to set up – and costs money. There are various stages – Nominations, Weights & Draws, Acceptances, and before that the planning, and training and feeding many horses. The only return owners get is from stake money earned in a race – and at Borrowdale, races are few and far between.
The fact that racing has been allowed in a limited fashion during the past couple of months is appreciated – but it seems permission must be sought for each meeting and that is not given timeously.
Racing is both a sport and an industry – once very successful – and some livelihoods are at stake. In Zimbabwe racing has been battling to survive for several years – and credit is due to those who have made this possible. At this stage, power plays are not helpful.
This pandemic is causing havoc worldwide but race meetings are taking place in many countries, even in those most affected. In some cases moves are afoot to step back from the most stringent of the behind-closed-doors stipulations.
I do not speak for the Mashonaland Turf Club but in the interests of Borrowdale racing in the long term, I believe I have the right to state my case.
The Mashonaland Turf Club has, regrettably, had to pull the plug on tomorrow’s scheduled race meeting at Borrowdale Park.
The MTC chairman, Gary Carter, has issued the following statement:
‘It is with great disappointment that I have to inform the followers of Borrowdale Park Racing that the meeting scheduled tomorrow is postponed.
‘On Friday the MTC were informed by the Sports and Recreation Council (SRC) of a breach of the COVID 19 protocols that had appeared on social media, and that approval was denied to hold the race meeting on Sunday 9th August.
‘The MTC appealed that decision on the grounds that it was an isolated blemish on an otherwise very successful implementation of the COVID 19 guidelines over the last three months. At this point in time the MTC has not received the outcome of that appeal and so has taken the painful decision to postpone the meeting in line with the current ruling.
‘The MTC will continue to lobby the relevant authorities for a swift return to safe racing and reaffirms its support for the measures taken by the Government of Zimbabwe to fight the spread of this pernicious disease.’