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Popular Cape Town-based ownership partners Mike Fullard and James Drew’s white, gold and blue silks are a familiar sight around the country and they recently had a party at Mike’s house with plenty of racing friends invited to celebrate their 400th winner together.

Both men are fanatical sportsmen and met through The Villagers rugby club and Alma cricket club.

James played fullback for Western Province U20 and was invited into the Springbok-laden Villagers first team at the time by the great Springbok and Western Province fullback and kicker HO de Villiers.

The Alma cricket club Mike and James played for had such great members as Jack Cheetham and Pieter van der Merwe (both SA captains) as well as Hylton Ackerman, Allan Lamb and Denys Hobson. . 

Ackerman, a famously entertaining batsman, shared a love of horseracing with Mike and James.

Mike and James bought their first horse in 1989 and this Stan Elley-trained gelding called Peaceful Paradise (Elevation) won eight times.

However, it was not the winning that drew them back for more, rather it was the fun they always had and a mutual love of horses.

They soon expanded their equine numbers and at this time Butch Watson-Smith, who was to become the manager of coach Harry Viljoen’s Western Province and Springbok rugby sides, became a regular shareholder in their horses and so did the legendary trainer Terrance Millard.

If this motley crew were not at the races or training centres together they were gathered somewhere for a meal or drink to discuss sport.

Fullard And Drew’s policy was to have one trainer in each of the big centres of Cape Town, Johannesburg, KZN, and Qqeberha (Port Elizabeth).

Therefore Stan Elley trained 148 of their 400 winners, Geoff Woodruff trained 130 and Dennis Drier has trained 37.

Mike and James traveled with Woodruff, Millard and Des Scott for six consecutive years to the sales in Argentina. Mike recalled those trips to always be tremendous fun.

They also reaped the dividends of Millard and Woodruff’s incredible respective eyes for a horse because the three individual Grade 1 winners they have owned, Paraca (Kitwood), Fantastic Horse (Equalize) and Private Jet (Orpen), were all bought in Argentina. They were all trained by Woodruff.

The filly Paraca was their most successful horse, winning three Grade 1s, the Allan Robertson, the Majorca Stakes and the Triple Tiara 1600 and being named the SA Champion Two-year-old filly. She also won the Thekwini which was a Grade 2 back then in 2002. She was sold to Australia where she finished eighth in the Cox Plate and won a Group 3 before being bought for $Aus800,000 on a broodmares sale by SA bloodstock agent Robin Bruss. 
Paraca was a half-sister to the Candy Stripes (Blushing Groom) mare Peru, who was dam of one of Fullard and Drew’s most beloved horses, the evergreen Elley-trained Punta Arenas (Silvano).

This galloping gelding very nearly provided them with their greatest moment, finishing a desperately unlucky second in the Vodacom Durban July of 2015.

Mike remembers the excitement of the day and recalls everybody telling them to object against the winner Power King (Silvano), who had cut in front of Punta Arenas and bumped him.

Jockey Ian Sturgeon was adamant he would have won but for the interference but the objection he lodged was overruled by the stipes.

Mike said, “It was still a fantastic feeling to have finished second. We love going for a weekend to Durban, Jo’burg or PE. We always have a good party.”

Punta Arenas also gave them three Grade 3 wins and a third in the J&B Met among many other achievements.

Fantastic Horse won the Gold Bowl for them when it was a prestigious Grade 1 and Private Jet won the Grade 1 Computaform Sprint.

The latter was a bad bleeder and because he was so talented they decided to race him in America and therefore among their 400 winners is one at Gulfstream Park, a race over 1000m won by Private Jet.

Besides Punta Arenas close July call the gallant Red Badge (Badger Land) gave them two July thirds.

Elley always regarded Kapil (Jallad) as the best horse he trained for Fullard and Drew. This smart bay gave the pair their biggest cheque when winning the US$175,000 Zabeel Mile for Mike de Kock in Dubai. He also won the Grade 2 KRA Guineas at Greyville and Grade 2 Merchants at Kenilworth and gave them a fourth in the Met.

One of the best they owned, and yet another Argeintinian-bred, was one of South Africa’s most famous ever bridesmaids, Pablo Zeta (Candy Stripes), who was trained by Tony Millard, until he moved to Hong Kong, and then Woodruff took over. 

Mike recalled, “He always used to finish five lengths ahead of the third horse but was unfortunately always five lengths behind Horse Chestnut!”

MIke mentioned a few other horses and then admitted they should have at least attempted to buy Pomp And Power at the sales. This three parts brother to Punta Arenas, who is out of Peru and by Silvano’s son Vercingetorix, won the Grade 1 Jonsson Workwear Cape Derby and is currently leading the race for the Equus Three-year-old male award.

He added, “But we did buy back into the family at the last CTS Cape Premier Yearling Sales.”

At that sale they got lot 107, who is by Erupt out of a Black Minnaloushe half-sister to Peru. This colt was officially knocked down to KZN trainer Paul Lafferty.

Since Elley’s retirement they have abandoned their one centre-one trainer policy and have horses in Cape Town with Brett Crawford, Candice Bass Robinson, Vaughan Marshall and Dean Kannemeyer and with various other trainers around the country. 

Fullard And Drew’s colours will surely be seen in the winner’s enclosure again.

Perhaps more importantly the pair will always be seen at any big raceday’s last session until stumps.   

Picture: Mike Fullard (Left) and James Drew (right) lead in another winner (Wayne Marks).