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Prolific Cape Town-based owner Greg Bortz admitted his purchase of Saturday’s Grade 1 Jonsson Workwear Cape Derby winner Pomp And Power at the National Yearling Sales was not carefully planned but this horse now provides him with a realistic chance of realising the lifelong dream of winning the Hollywoodbets Durban July.
He said. “I suffer from African Horse Sickness … I see a horse and I buy it! I saw this
horse coming into the ring and I thought what a fantastic name. Of course i did look at the page and I liked it. And I loved the horse. He is not a “wow” specimen but I have owned “wow” specimens who have not run well.”
He landed him for R250,000 and Marsh Shirtliff and Etienne Braun then approached him and said they had wanted the horse and could they have a share.
“They are fantastic guys to be in a partnership with,” said Bortz.
Pomp And Power was well backed on the day but trainer Justin Snaith had for a long time battled to find a rider..
Snaith said, “S’Manga was going to be aboard Pacaya so we offered the ride to Richard Fourie, but his agent said he was waiting to see what else he could get. Then we decided to geld Pacaya instead but S’Manga couldn’t take the Pomp And Power ride anyway because he was suspended, so we had no rider for a while but luckily Richard’s agent then came to his senses.”
Bortz was grateful for the genius of Fourie and said, “Grant van NIekerk gave Pomp And Power a brilliant ride to win the Concorde. Then in the Guineas we were drawn in the bush and were going to scratch when S’Manga was injured but we learnt Craig Bantam was still on course … we just told him to ping the gates and see what happened and he gave him a fantastic ride. But because of those two races we viewed him as a front-running miler. But Keagan de Melo then told Justin after the Queen’s Plate he must run him in the Derby. I also remember when Pomp And Power won for the first time Stan Elley telling me he would stay (Pomp And Power is a three-parts brother to the former Elley-trained Punta Arenas, who was an unlucky second in the 2015 July) Richard also said this horse stays and suggested a happy bit so he wouldn’t pull. It was a genius ride because you could see Anton Marcus and Craig Zackey looking around asking themselves ‘Where is Pomp And Power?'(!)”
Greg continued, “He won with a bit in hand. We have been discussing whether we will go the Daily News route or protect his July weight but it depends on what the handicappers give him (he was increased just one point to 118). Also Justin and Jono Snaith have forgotten about racing what I don’t know and I will never go against any decision they make.”
Greg comes from a a completely non-racing family but grew up outside the Greyville racetrack and revealed, “I could hear the commentaries of Trevor and Eric Denman and Craig Peters and I was soon captivated. I have been taking PA’s since I was eight. At age nine I used to sneak into the silver ring and stood out like a sore thumb but I was obsessed. I had a good friend growing up called Nick Sternberg who was the son of Martin Sternberg who owned horses like Spanish Pool . It was when I started going to David Payne’s yard with the Sternbergs that the bug really bit.”
Greg has many memories of racing in those days but one which always stands out is the day the superstar filly Jungle Class made her debut and won easily but they had got her confused with another horse so she ran under the wrong name and was disqualified.
“She came out the next time officially a maiden but everybody knew about her unofficial run and she started at 1 to 12!”
She won that race by many lengths.
Greg took his obsession for racing with him to University in Cape Town but in 1994 left for the USA and as there was no internet in those day he lost touch with the sport. He did not take to the style of racing in the USA.
In 2012 he sold his business in the USA and returned to SA with his family for what was supposed to be a year’s hiatus but he is still here.
He said, “It was an amazing coincidence … I liked an apartment at Clifton to rent and when I went to view it I immediately noticed it had pictures of racehorses on the wall. It turned out to be owned by Bryn Ressell. The lease was signed on the agreement we would buy a horse together so I went to the sales and ended up buying 17!”
He speaks highly of Bryn and they are good friends today.
The Brett Crawford-trained Undercover Agent, who won the Rising Sun Gold Challenge, was Greg’s first Grade 1 winner and Pomp And Power the second, but he has had plenty of Grade 2, Grade 3 and Listed wins.
Greg used to look for precocious speed but lately has been out to buy classic horses and as he loves to go and see his horses he is going to concentrate his string in Cape Town. He thus bought both of the R1 million horses at the BSA Cape Yearling Sale over the weekend. He commented on the quality of the Sale.
Greg owns shares in 57 horses and 39 are with the Snaiths but he also supports Brett Crawford, Lucky Houdalakis, Alan Greeff, Ashley Fortune and Paddy Kruyer and he owns the useful Paul Peter-trained Bold Ransom.
However, his ultimate dream is to see his aquamarine and grey colours adorning the Hollywood bets Greyville Classic room Wall Of Honour alongside other July winners and one who already has that honour, Marsh Shirtliff, has told him to book his hotel room now for July week.
Picture: Greg Bortz leads in Pomp And Power on Saturday (Wayne Marks).