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Two friends who work for Shoprite Checkers decided to take the plunge into ownership after subscribing to Neil Andrews and Nico Kritiosis’ online show Clocking The Gallop and they are now excitedly anticipating the Champions Season campaign of the horse they have a share in, the Mike de Kock-trained Ready To Fly (Gimmethegreenlight).

Vinod Hansraj and Sanjay Manisunker noticed the invitation to take small shares in horses with Neil Andrews’ Bennmag Brown Syndicate and decided to take a chance.

Vinod had owned once before in a similar syndicate, the Gold Circle Punters Club, where he had a hoof of the Mark Dixon-trained Shoot The Breeze (Kahal) who won one race.

However, this is the first horse Sanjay has ever owned.

Yesterday, they waited eagerly for the arrival of Ready To Fly at Summerveld.

It was the first time Sanjay had ever been to the training centre. Like many, he was not aware it was open to the public and that it offered a good sit down breakfast at the clubhouse.

Ready To Fly, bought at the National Yearling Sale last year for R240,000, is out of an unraced Jet Master own sister to Grade 1 Golden Slipper winner All Afire.

She made her debut last week over 1200m on Turffontein Inside and was backed into 5/2 despite jumping from a tricky draw of six out of nine.

She finished a promising 0,80 length second under Richard Fourie.

The friends have a small share but see it as a starting point. 

Sanjay spoke of the adrenalin rush first-time owners always experience on the debut of their first runner and continued, “It was a great run!”

Vinod, a slightly more experienced owner, added, “A filly first time around the bend, so we didn’t expect too much, but she was backed into second favourite and clearly has ability. She’s coming down to Durban today, Mike de Kock is bringing her for the season! It’s exciting!”

Asked whether a run at the Hollywoodbets Scottsville Festival Of Speed meeting was on the cards, he replied, “We will see what Mike is going to do, but Neil keeps us informed all the time.”

Vinod grew up one road away from Greyville racecourse and his Dad, who was popularly known in the area as “Mr Hans”, used to enjoy a flutter on the horses. 

He recalled, “We had a cousin who worked at Greyville, so when we were little kids we used to hop over into the racecourse. We would stand and watch the horses circling at the start and jumping away. We would then get a ride on the pens (towed by the tractor) to the starting point of the next race! My Dad also used to take horses and I would listen on the radio for him and take the numbers for him. I used to play a PA myself. I still like a PA. For the last 15 years I’ve been to every July.”

Vinod has played representative junior cricket and is still a first league tennis player, so will likely have a fair understanding of what lies ahead for Ready To Fly in the build up to peak fitness. 

Sanjay said, “I think we all learnt from our Dads. My Dad was a 25c/50c punter. We used to go to the Tote and he would punt R1 in those days.”

Sanjay used to work at the top class Hillcrest Shoprite Checkers and became quite well know at the Hillcrest Tote where he would pop in for a flutter after hours.

He said, “It’s a great feeling to be doing something different in racing now other than punting.”

He added, “We joined Clocking The Gallop and I must say well done to Neil and Nico. It’s a great initiative by them and I just want to say a heads up to them, thanks very much for giving lower profile people an opportunity to join the Sport Of Kings as they call it.”

He concluded, “Vinod came with the idea and I said ‘Let’s go for it.’ We also have a share in a Benmag Brown Syndicate horse with Dean Kannemeyer. That horse is still in Cape Town. We are quite ecstatic because the Kannemeyer stable is firing at the moment. He said he expects the horse to run in May. But we are excited about Ready To Fly. The run he gave us … he has a calm temperament, and it was a brilliant ride by Richard Fourie. It’s exciting times for us!”

Picture (left to right): Sanjay and Vinod waiting with eager anticipation at Summerveld this morning for the arrival of their promising Mike de Kock-trained filly Ready To Fly, who was journeying down from Randjesfontein.