MILNERTON trainer Piet Steyn gets a special thrill from winning with ‘cheapies’, something he is known for and has had to rely on more than ever in these trying times for small stables.

Steyn bought Gitano Hernando’s son Man About Town for only R30,000 at the CTS March Sale of 2016 and owners Marsh Shirtliff and Bryn Ressell have been smiling all the way on this one, four wins and some R350,000 later.

“Listen, Man About Town’s a good horse, he’s even better than his form looks now. I mean, just a few runs ago he gave the feature performer Run Red three kilo’s and a sound beating over 2000m at Kenilworth. That day Aldo Domeyer got off and said, ‘Mr Steyn, this one can win a feature.

“Back over 2000m on Tuesday we were quite confident and he won carrying a big weight again, and they ran off slow fractions. If there was a good pace on, he wouldn’t have come off the bit!”

Jockey Bernard Fayd’Herbe confirmed, saying: “He is a nice galloper. We had to do it the hard way, from the front, but they allowed us to go and Man About Town kept finding strongly. He is going to win several more races.”

Steyn felt that Man About Town hadn’t cantered down too well, again confirmed by Fayd’Herbe, who said: “He didn’t feel too good, but he was fine after I warmed him up at the start.”

Tellytrack’s Stan Elley disagreed, expressing his opinion that Man About Town did in fact stride out well on the way down, and Steyn said this morning: “I know this horse so well, I thought I’d seen him canter down better than this, but when I watched the replay I have to say Stan was right, he did look well, one couldn’t really fault him on the naked eye.”
Steyn told: “Man About Town got a hit on his near fore cannon last time and that left a little bump. It’s a swelling near the tendon and it may have bothered him a bit yesterday, but it didn’t show in his run. It’s the type of thing that goes away after a few weeks, like a man bumping his shin. It heals quick.”

The trainer said he’ll be looking for a suitable feature in Cape Town and pointed again to Man About Town’s form. “Have a look, when he won his Maiden race last year he beat Magnificent Seven, who is now in KZN with Justin Snaith and is a feature contender. He’s also run very well against Rainbow Bridge and Doublemint, not too far off. This is the type of form that makes Man About Town good enough to pick off a feature race here.”

As for the other 20 horses in his yard, Steyn said he’s “making do and doing the best I can”, but he again lamented the fact that there is a lack of races for lowerdivision handicappers in the Western Cape. “I had to sell six runners to Kimberley trainers recently because they can’t compete in Cape Town, there are no races for them.

“Several Cape owners are sending their horses to race in Port Elizabeth and that’s another problem, because most of them don’t come back. They have opportunities there. We need to address this, and I say again we, the smaller trainers, need to get support from more bigger owners and breeders. You know, years ago middle class workers, general managers and so on, could afford to own a horse or two. Now, the same people are battling to pay for 10%, the game has become so expensive and we need to put our heads together so we can find solutions.”

We’ve written about the problems facing small stables often, and we echo Steyn’s sentiments. What would this game be without the smaller man?

-From Turf Talk Newsletter.