Celebrating the passion of the past season.

With just over three days to go to the official end of the 2015/2016 racing season, we can certainly say that it’s been an interesting season, and for many of us filled with the various ups and downs that racing often dishes up.

On the ups, Sean Tarry looks set to be Champion trainer again, as there is not enough time nor enough stake money to enable Justin Snaith to catch up the R9 Million + difference between them. Sean had the most runners of all trainers this season and it also allowed him to reach a milestone record of over 200 winners in one season.

S'Manga Khumalo and Heavy Metal.

S’Manga Khumalo celebrates. Photo courtesy of Liesl King, Durban July 2013.

Stable elect jockey S’ Manga Khumalo is also in the lead to become champion again with 239 wins to date from 1325+ rides. Only Muzi Yeni comes close to this number of rides during the season, so they have both been very busy racking up air-miles, flitting between tracks to their races. On a quick average calculation, if they were to race 365 days a year, it equates to nearly 3 or 4 races a day, every day of the year, so there’s no disputing how fit they are.

Klawervlei Stud Farm and Summerhill Stud have been neck and neck in the Breeder’s Championship. Of course the Elan sponsored Gold Cup (Super Saturday which is now on Sunday due to all the heavy rain in Durban) is still to be run with four Grade two races and two Grade ones offering quite a bit of stakes money to the winners, but in relative terms it is unlikely to make much of a difference to the current standings and Summerhill do seem to hold the aces in these races.

None of these accolades come without a lot of effort and in all the cases a lot of perseverance and focus. For leading owners Ingrid and Markus Jooste, the 2016 Vodacom Durban July provided them with their first win of this prestigious trophy in over 20 years of race-horse ownership, finally giving them wins in all four of South Africa’s major feature races.

It just goes to show what a great leveller horse racing is and it is part of what makes it so exciting, as it really doesn’t matter who you are or what your horse/horses cost, anyone can compete. Obviously your odds of success are greater with more investment, from both volume of horses, as well as money spent but there is so much more to it and simply expecting returns based on what you feel you have put in usually leads to disappointment.

The most important thing is to bear in mind that we are dealing with horses – flesh and blood animals – not machines. They are creatures of quirk at times and are unable to let us know directly if they are having an off day, feeling slightly sore somewhere or would just prefer to have a day off.

So to be a true horse owner/horse man (the term refers to all horse lovers, not only men in this instance) and to enjoy ones racing ownership, it is imperative to accept the good with the bad and the rough with the smooth. If you can accept that and realise that huge disappointments can follow enormous victories, you will appreciate what it all takes and should be able to have a long and happy life in racing. This is not a game of quick returns and if you chase the runs and burn your horses, they may not have the longevity we’d all like to have. It can lead to disappointment and associated negativity.

Horses don’t even have to be racing or in training for disasters to happen! From our own personal experience, we lost two mares within six months of each other and while that may not seem like a big deal to some, they were our only two broodmares at the time. To lose one when foaling down and the second by lightning strike, does make you question your luck. Both were close to our hearts as our foundation mares, so it was an emotional loss more than anything.

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The Bee’s Knees (Stunning Jet x Byword) enjoys assisting with Imagine Racing work.

Fortunately we have a two year old and a yearling from each respectively. Both are in various stages of training and it’s the hope and anticipation of seeing them following in their dams’ footsteps that takes the edge off the loss.

With horses you have to be able to deal with the knocks and it is most certainly not easy. One thinks that after having lived a life close to horses you can accept that set-backs and problems happen but it does not get any easier and it’s even more difficult when you have to break bad news to fellow owners.

The early part of this past season was a quiet one for us in terms of runners, as we retired two and had to do surgery on a third. Final Score went to stud and is in foal to Soft Falling Rain, while we hope to see Petrichor back at the track by early next year.

The latter half has been busy with young horses making their positive debuts for a bunch of new owners who are embracing their horse racing ownership with passion and enthusiasm. Their involvement and attitude is exactly what we encourage and celebrate! We love sharing our passion for horses and ownership but we encourage our owners to come in with the right mind-set, an appreciation of the horse (at the very least), although we’d prefer to say love, an acceptance that they are athletes and not machines, and some patience when it’s required.

So from Monday we look ahead to the new season, new horses, new owners and new victories!

Just Imagine the Four P’s – Patience, Perseverance, Passion = Possibilities!