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Tattersalls’ John O’Kelly is flanked by Spencer Cook of the Gareth van Zyl yard and Cape Racing’s Devon Pretorius (Pic – Chase Liebenberg)


According to the stats there were 38 runs by raiders in Cape Town last season and only three wins, Mike Azzie winning the Grade 1 Compuform Sprint with Bohica, Mike de Kock winning the Grade 2 New Turf Carriers Western Cape Stayers with Sparkling Water and Alan Greeff winning the Listed City Of Cape Town Summer Juvenile Stakes with Cliff Top.

This season raiders have had 164 runs and 18 wins and there is still more than a month of the season to go.
The 18 wins include three stakes race victories, Sean Tarry winning both the Grade 2 Southern Cross Stakes and the Grade 2 Cartier Sceptre Stakes with Princess Calla and Gareth van Zyl winning the Listed Jamaica Handicap with Evening Primrose on Saturday.  
Mike Azzie finished last season as leading raiding trainer and was in 16th place on the Western Cape log in stakes earned. He had one win from 3 runs, a strike rate of 33,33%, and stakes of R633,750. 
Gareth van Zyl is leading raiding trainer so far this season.
He is in 12th position on the Cape log with seven wins in 29 runs at a strike rate of 24.14% and stakes of R653,587.
Sean Tarry is in 14th position with three wins from 10 runs, a strike rate of 30%, and stakes of R533,500.
Peter Muscutt is in 15th place with four wins from 28 runs, a strike rate of 14.29%, and stakes of R530,462.
Dennis Drier has had two wins in Cape Town this season, Gavin van Zyl has had one win and Alyson Wright has had one win.
Azzie will have personally earned, calculating on the norm of 10% of the stakes, R63,375 for his efforts in Cape Town last season.
This season Gareth van Zyl will have earned R65,358 plus numerous of the incentive bonuses given to raiding trainers and owners for each win. In his case those bonuses will have earned him an extra amount of around R200,000! Roundabout half of his wins have been on “festival” days, which brings a cheque of R50,000 each, and the other wins would have brought cheques of R10,000 each. 
Tarry and Gareth van Zyl are one-two in strike rate on the Cape log for trainers with ten or more runs this season.
This is not altogether surprising considering the raiding trainers bring a select squad with them.
However, it is of particular interest that KZN trainers are responsible for 15 of the 18 raider wins this season, considering KZN is these days considered a distant third behind Cape Town and Johannesburg as a racing powerhouse.
The incentives have brought out the best in the KZN trainers and they will be riding the crest of a wave.
This might have a knock on effect at the sales.
Dennis Drier’s success around the country at the beginning of last decade and beyond saw him winning increasing owner support and building a powerful yard.
The same could have been said for Duncan Howells. 
There could possibly be a repeat of this process for Van Zyl et al, although a look at ten seasons ago shows that the leading KZN yards of today have generally less runners than they had back then. 
In the 2013/2014 season leading KZN trainers Dennis Drier, Kumaran Naidoo, Duncan Howells, Gavin van Zyl and Charles Laird had had 251, 402, 290, 322 and 130 runs respectively by this time of the season compared to Garth Puller, Kumaran Naidoo, Peter Muscutt, Gareth van Zyl and Wendy Whitehead having 332, 353, 187, 175 and 170 respectively so far this season.
That is 1395 runners, and an average of 279, compared to 1217 and an average of 243.
The reasons for this downturn will have to be looked into, but it might be harder these days for a KZN yard to become a national force.
Nevertheless, they can still build their way out of a period which could be called the doldrums.