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Eric Antelme, son of Gondolier’s trainer Pat Antelme, was at the Hollywoodbets Durban July Gallops last week and spoke about that memorable win back in 1985.

He said, “I was only three years old at the time, but there is a lot of memorabilia at home and over the years I have got to know the story of Gondolier’s win well.”

Pat Antelme bought the horse at the Natal Sale for more than the budget he was given by owners John Rayner and Chris Taylor. 

“My Dad liked the horse on pedigree and conformation. He was big on studying pedigrees. ”

Gondolier was by Jamaico, who in fact sired three July winners, the legendary Jamaican Music as well as Jamaican Rumba and Gondolier.
Gondolier was out of a mare by Oligarchy, sire of the great 1978 July winner Politician.
Eric continued, “My Dad phoned John immediately after the purchase and told him he had got a horse and John’s first words were ‘How much?’ There were apparently some expletives after he had replied! But My Dad then guaranteed him this horse would be in the July line up.”
“He is one of the only horses to run in five Julys. He finished second in 1983, then fifth in 1984 ( behind Terrance Millard-trained winners Tecla Bluff and Devon Air respectively), and then he won (by a comfortable 2,75 lengths). He then went to Paddy Kruyer in the Cape and ran two more Julys, finishing 6th and 7th respectively.”
Eric believes he left the Antelme yard due to an ownership disagreement.
He continued, “Those are my memories but I still have the re-runs on betamax and the interviews with Martin Locke.”
On the build up to the 1985 July, Eric said, “My Dad was very confident. He had prepped the horse well and everything was spot on. It was tragic that his regular jockey Peter Sieg passed away in an accident, but Billy Harvey had been with My Dad when Gondolier was a young horse and actually broke him in, so he was offered the ride and won the July.”
Harvey dislocated a shoulder in a training ride a week prior to the big race and it was doubtful he would be able to meet the engagement. However, a well known Durban acupuncturist solved the problem with needles and massage. 
Gondolier was also given acupuncture, according to Eric, by the legendary horse physiotherapist “Winks” Green.
He said, “My Dad was big into homeopathy and Winks Green worked on Gondolier a lot.”
He continued, “My Dad was treating his own horses and shoeing his own horses up until he stopped training, so there were no vet and farrier bills.”
Of the actual race, he said, “Gondolier had a nice turn of foot. He sat in midfield and I think he was on the rail. There were some nice horses, it was the Millard era, and there was the like of Bodrum and Uncle Percy in the race as well as Spanish Pool, Turncoat and Count Du Barry. But Billy was very confident. He got fined for saluting before the line and standing up in the saddle. It must be a big joy to win the July.”
Eric elaborated, “Gondolier was one of those horses who had a mind on him and you had to get him right and you had to teach him how to run the proper way. Knowing my father and his methods he was probably given a nice easy prep and a nice easy July gallop, but on the day he was spot on and he used that fine turn of foot to burst clear.”
Eric is still an avid horseracing fan and has a strong fancy for this year’s renewal.
He said, “I am a big Safe Passage man. I was very impressed with his Daily News win. I also like a bit of Linebacker. You can’t discount the Cape horses when they come to Durban. He has been well prepped and so have the Snaith runners so you have to beware of them too.”