SEASONED Western Cape horseman Greg Ennion has held a trainers’ licence for longer than most of today’s racing enthusiasts have been alive. At 70, he’s cracking on at Milnerton and he posted a good stayers’ double in high 70s MR Handicaps at Kenilworth on Saturday.
Ennion won Race 8 over 1800m with Jay Peg’s son Line Editor and followed half an hour later with Cedar Man, winning over 2500m. Both were ridden by Singapore-bound JP van der Merwe.
Ennion has good future hopes for both stayers, who are only three years old and have a number of opportunities in races over ground, in months and years to come. He said: “Line Editor and Cedar Man are working companions, both progressive horses we’d like to get into the Investec Cape Derby on Sun Met Day.
“Cedar Man was actually sold to a Mauritian interest after Saturday’s win, but the owner is keeping him in my yard for now. He’s a baby still, a tall horse with scope and improvement in him. I’d like to predict that, if he stays in South Africa, he’d be a Gold Cup contender next year.”
Line Editor, a CTS graduate like Cedar Man, was bought back for R20,000 by breeders David and Sandy Hepburn-Brown of Hemel N Aarde Stud and Ennion said: “I told them to keep him, he was too nice a horse to sell off for nothing. We couldn’t find an owner at first, but Etienne Braun came on board and took 75% of him in due course.
“Line Editor was immature to start, he failed up to 1400m and his merit rating was so low he was eliminated from races over middle distances, so I said to the owners we should throw him in deep, try him over 2400m. He got in and won a good Maiden over 2400m and he’s run very well since.”
Ennion, who has proved himself over and over around the country with runners in all divisions, including Gr1 winners like Master Plan, said that business is tough. “It’s one thing to have a desire to keep on training, but it’s hard when you arrive at empty stables in the morning!”
Ennion’s string has dwindled from a consistent 40-plus down to 16 (from which he’s had eight winners this season), consistent with several other Cape trainers in the prevailing economic conditions. Everyone knows how good he is, so it’s not a question of being under-rated, just under-supported!
Racing needs more owners. The industry has to find ways to bring new blood into the game, we all have to try harder with concerted and ongoing efforts, as not to rely on the bigger owners all the time. They can only spread their wings in support of smaller stables only so much, and for so long and Ennion tells: “I had most of Braam Van Huyssteen’s horses, but he’s also had to cut back his string and he’s started focusing on joint-ownership in proven horses, so I’m down to just one!”
Photo: Line Editor with part-owner owner Etienne Braun, breeder John Koster of Klawervlei and trainer Greg Ennion.