Two and three year old future bucking horses inspect their South African visitors in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Calgary, Canada.

The passion for horses

From the Calgary Stampede to Saratoga

Having just returned from a trip to Canada and North America which included a visit to the Greatest Outdoor Show on earth, the Calgary Stampede, the Imagine Racing team continues to be inspired by the magnificence of the horse.

Apart from the Bull riding, steer wrestling and calf-roping, the Calgary Stampede Rodeo showcases some of the best bucking horses and riders in the world, including a 22 year old star horse, and every evening ends with the Chuckwagon races, known as the GMC Rangeland Derby. A team of four former thoroughbred race horses pulls a small wagon around a dirt track, against 3 other teams, each backed up by two “outriders. Although a far cry from our classic racing, one cannot but be enthralled at the speed that they go in a very tight space.

Sadly this trip meant that some of us missed the Vodacom Durban July and the great win by Sean Tarry’s Pomodoro! We can’t all be everywhere but at least half the team was there to shout him home. Our congratulations to Sean and Chris van Niekerk for their first win in the race!

While still thinking of North American racing, an article by Jeff Deitz in the New York Times reminded me that Saratoga racing starts on Friday 20th July. Known almost as the grand dame of race tracks, Saratoga has an old school grace and class that does not exist at many other tracks in the US. Its position in Upstate New York means that it is lush, green and surrounded by old fortunes and great taste!

His story goes back to 1972. Having lost some money on the first few races at Saratoga, Jeff made it all back on the seventh race and was hooked for life. These images and experiences are what Imagine Racing aims to share with others and this evocative excerpt shows how the passion for the horse and racing can be ignited by just one great experience!

“Although I grew up in Baltimore with Pimlico Race Course as my home track, I did not fall in love with horse racing until the first time I saw Saratoga.” There I was 23, watching the beautiful ladies and their beaus talking with their trainers. I was dreaming of being on the owners’ side of the fence, watching my horses schooled to break from the starting gate, not worrying about being chased off because I didn’t belong.

That’s when I saw number 5 being saddled, tossing his head while the groom put on the blue-and-white checkered hood. Although he was listed as chestnut, in the late-afternoon sun, the horse was more red than brown.

The number 5 horse was Secretariat at 8-to-5 odds. I was thinking about putting my money on the favourite, Linda’s Chief but I put my last $20 on Number 5 to win.

Secretariat broke dead last and when they turned for home he was still hemmed in behind three others.

He drove between horses to reach the front and exploded past Linda’s Chief as if he were standing still. Greatness is like love. I felt it!

The thrill of witnessing champions ascending is one of Saratoga’s lures. With a first kiss like that, I was hooked for life.”

We know how Jeff feels and that is what makes racing our passion. We live it and we love it!

Imagine Racing Horse Syndication South Africa America Trip Horse Inspection