Skip to main content

Winchester Mansion easily wins the Gr 3 Hollywoodbets Dolphins Cup Trial (Candiese Lenferna Photography).


Brett Crawford is happy with draws three and four for his Hollywoodbets Durban July charges Time Flies and Winchester Mansion who are being prepared out of Randjesfontein on the Highveld.

In the nine renewals of the July on the narrowed track only three winners have had single figure draws and the lowest of those was six.

Responding to this question Crawford said, “I suppose a lot just depends on horses’ running styles, but for me it is always important to be drawn well.”

The four-year-old Dynasty filly Times Flies has a progressive profile.

She was raised from a 96 merit rating to a 117 after finishing a 1,30 length second to the heroine Rain In Holland in the Gr 1 Woolavington 2000 last time out.

Crawford said, “She stepped up last time, first time in Gr 1 company, very good run. She’s got a good galloping weight (55kg), although it is not an easy galloping weight for her. I can’t fault what she’s done and how she’s progressed in the last six months. I’m happy with her and she seems to love HWB Greyville and with a good draw, a good galloping weight and, so far, a good preparation, we’re happy. She’s a bit of an unknown quantity. If you take her form with Silver Darling and Rain In Holland it puts her right in the mix, they are all horses you would have to think have chances.”

Time Flies is 1,5kg better off with Rain In Holland for that 1,30 length beating so that makes her a bit of a dark horse … and a runner with each-way value considering Rain In Holland is 14/1 with the sponsor and Time Flies is 40/1.

Time Flies is leased from Ridgemont by the Hollywood Syndicate and gives the latter their first July runner in their second year of sponsoring the race, which they immediately injected with a stake increase to R5 million.

Luyolo Mxothwa is Crawford’s first choice rider in Cape Town and he retains the ride on Time Flies, whilst Kabelo Matsunyane retains the ride on the four-year-old Trippi gelding Winchester Mansion.

The latter has always had promise and fulfilled it when running out a facile 3,10 length winner of the Gr 3 Hollywoodbest Dolphins Cup Trial over 1800m at Hollwyoodbets Greyville in his last start. 

Crawford said about the sponsor’s 6/1 second favourite, “He’s always been a nice horse. He won the Winter Derby (Gr 3 WSB Pocket Power Stakes over 2400m at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth for three-year-olds). At the beginning of his four-year-old career he was crying to be gelded, but we were in the middle of a season so we couldn’t do anything. Subsequent to that his two runs have been fantastic. The second (in the WSB 1900) and the win were both in Group company (and both at HWB Greyville) and his last win I thought was very impressive. So for me a four-year-old with 53kg with a good draw, he’s had a great prep, those for me are going to be the horses with a say. There is not much between him and Pacaya, so I think he’s definitely got to have a big chance.”

Commenting on Winchester Mansion’s apparent good turn of foot, he said, “He quickens well, he has always done that. If you go back and just look at his debut win, he came from stone last at HWB Durbanville from a bad draw. So he is a horse who has the ability to quicken well and like I say he has had a fantastic preparation. He’s nice sound horse, touch wood, so we are very happy with him.”

Winchester Mansion would give superstar Drakenstein Stud-based stallion Trippi a deserved first winner of the July.

Brett elaborated, “Winchester Mansion’s brother was a very good sprinter, Sand And Sea, but as a winner of the Winter Derby he’s got the attributes for the July. There are no stamina limitations.” 

Winchester Mansion is something of a miracle horse having broken a vertebrae in his neck as a youngster when running into a pole in the paddock.

He was a model patient who remained calm in his box for three-and-a-half months and that allowed him to recover.

He had been set for the Sales until the accident, so Drakenstein ended up racing him themselves. 

Crawford said, “He’s got his own story, so it would be nice if he can put his name in big lights.”

Asked what it would mean for he himself to win the July, Crawford said, “I’ve had a lot of runners who have been placed before. It is obviously always on a trainer’s bucket list to be a July winner so it would mean a lot and I think we have done well to get two horses in this year and I think they are two horses with chances. We need a bit of luck in running now.”

Crawford finished second with Angus in 2002, fourth with Reveille Boy in 2005, third with Futura in 2014  and third with Edict Of Nantes in 2017.

Commenting on whether experience in training July runners counted for a lot, he replied, “It’s like anything … experience, you need the right horse, you need luck in running. It’s not easy to win races like this. You need a lot of things to go right for you.” 

He concluded, “But for me it is all about preparation.”