ONE wouldn’t think there’s much in common between Manchester Untied footballer Daniel James and Gauteng-based stallion Skitt Skizzle but there is – both have made outstanding starts to their careers, writes DAVID MOLLETT.
James had a dream debut scoring for United against Chelsea in August and Jet Master’s son, Skitt Skizzle, has had just 11 runners to date of which six have won 15 races.
“Skitt” won three races for champion Sean Tarry and – not surprisingly – his chief patron, Chris Van Niekerk, felt that – considering Pomodoro’s success – it was worth seeing if another of Jet Master’s progeny could fire at stud.
Skitt Skizzle stands at Neil and Lyth Orford’s Bosworth Farm Stud near Klerksdorp – many moons ago they bred with the talented Hobnob and, more recently, they hit the headlines with Heavy Metal’s win in the 2013 Durban July.
That was the second of two July wins (so far!) for Chris Van Niekerk and it understandably endeared SA’s leading owner to the Orfords.
“To be honest, we were about to call it a day and then Skitt Skizzle came along and rejuvenated us,” says Neil.
“He has been a revelation – his first runner, Cordillera, won first time out and then won the
Secretariat Stakes. He’s a burly horse with a lovely temperament – I first met him at our yearling spelling farm and he was stabled right next to Pomodoro.”
“Both are by Jet Master out of Northern Guest mares and his progeny – in my opinion – tend towards Northern Guest.”
The Orfords introduction to Chris has a connection with legendary actor, John Wayne. Chris had arranged for a horse whisperer – an American girl whose father is a plastic surgeon and grew up in Hollywood with Wayne her godfather – to break in a Fort Wood colt he’d bought at the sales.
Neil remembers the day well. “She was extraordinary – within three hours he could be ridden.”
What he said next, left me flabbergasted. “Chris rode his own horse in the lunging ring – surely a first for an owner.”
I needed to confirm this and – after chatting to Ryan Moore who was riding his grey filly Invisible in the CTS 1600 in the fifth at Kenilworth on Saturday – Chris confirmed this unlikely scenario. “Bit of an athlete in my youth, David,” he quipped.
Neil is full of praise for Chris whom he describes as “a wonderful asset to SA racing.”
“I have often said that – for a breeder – a bad horse is the test of a good friendship. The Fort Wood colt fell into that category, but our friendship only grew from those early days.”
Champion trainer, Sean Tarry, isn’t surprised that Skitt Skizzle has made such a bright start at stud. “He had tons of speed and ability – if I remember correctly, he won his maiden by 10 lengths. He did not achieve his full potential as he became way too
Last season Skitt Skizzle had 30 mares and Neil says “he has eight really nice foals at foot.”
This journo is always banging on about how badly horses are named in this country – we should learn from Coolmore who invariably come up with powerful names – and I suggested, given Heavy Metal’s July success, it might be an idea to name one or two after Heavy Metal singers.
“I love the idea – if the name’s available, Heavy Metal’s little sister by Skitt Skizzle will be called Alice Cooper,” said Neil. Donnie Osmond is a possible name for a colt.
After Heavy Metal had carried his royal blue and red colours to success in the 2013 July, Chris told the media: “I’ll remain a fool and buy more.”
The Orfords are delighted he’s done just that and SA’s leading owner has brought a spring back into the step of their Bosworth operation. Thoughts of shutting up shop have happily been dispelled.