Gareth van Zyl and Athandiwe Mgudlwa have become a force to be reckoned with and the yard’s late charge to retain the KZN Trainers Championship only just failed last season (Candiese Lenferna Photography).
By Charl Pretorius
Youthful Gareth van Zyl has arrived in Cape Town with a string of 20 horses based at the Milnerton training centre. He will send out his first two runners at Saturday’s Durbanville meeting. It is unusual to see a KwaZulu-Natal trainer in the Cape before the start of summer, but Gareth explained on Monday that his early arrival is part of an important career move.
The 37-year-old, champion of KZN in 2021/2, is pursuing his ambition to be national champion and is in the process of moving his family to the Western Cape. Gareth’s father Gavin, the veteran top jockey turned successful trainer, will be staying on at Summerveld to run what will eventually become Van Zyl racing’s satellite yard.
The Van Zyl’s have 100 horses in their care and Gareth said from Milnerton on Monday: “When you are aiming for the top of the log you can’t have your sights set on just a top 20 finish. We’ll be reshuffling our runners so that we have the best ones competing in the races that offer the best stakes. Having a stable in two centres gives us a chance to move them around for race and track suitability, ultimately to the benefit of owners.”
Gareth said that Cape Racing’s recent series of stakes initiatives played a part in his decision to launch his title attack from two bases. “We haven’t had the quality to take on the best in all the major races yet, but we have bigger buying power now and we were able to step up on quality at this year’s auction sales. I’m excited about our prospects in the new season.”
Gareth has been allocated 33 stables at Milnerton. “We’ve trucked seven older horses and 12 two-year-olds to the Cape, to start. I want the string well settled before the Cape season gets in full swing.”
His first runner is Stars In Heaven, who arrived from in his new home with two good places under his belt and takes on a few promising Cape three-year-olds in race 3 over 1400m. Said Gareth: “He would have been odds-on to win if this was a Maiden Plate in Durban, but the rivals are stronger here. He travelled well, we’d like to see how he shapes and we’re hoping for a stake cheque.”
Moya Waya Liga (race 9), fresh off two Scottsville wins over 1200m, has the inside draw in race 9 over 1250m, a bonus for his hat-trick bid. Gareth noted: “He is in good form, perhaps still ahead of the handicapper and is one you have to respect. He is good enough to win this.”
1st Race: (5) Triptothewoods (1) Ponte Vecchio (8) Lady Renee (2) Head Girl
2nd Race: (1) Firealley (6) Sachdev (2) Linebacker (3) Itsrainingwilliam
3rd Race: (3) Celtic Chief (2) Stars In Heaven (1) Lexican Point (7) Golden Grey
4th Race: (2) Oliver (9) No Apologies (7) All About Ronnie (4) Future Gem
5th Race: (5) Woman’s World (9) Mothership (7) Flamboyant Flyer (1) Dawn Of Gold
6th Race: (6) Tothemoonandback (7) Rule Of Thumb (10) Max The Otter (1) Gentleman Joe
7th Race: (7) Royal Watch (8) Night Ruler (4) Love Is A Rose (3) Sudden Song
8th Race: (9) Champion Warrior (4) Hammie’s Hero (5) Dean Street (2) Dance Variety 9th Race: (7) All About Al (1) Moya Waya Liga (12) Night Tiger (5) Faire Advantage