The Hollywood team end the season on a high through Isivunguvungu’s victory in the Gr 1 Mercury Sprint (Candiese Lenferna Photography).
The Hollywood Syndicate had a season they could barely have dreamed of.
Last year they reached 100 wins in a season for the first time and they were the early leaders in the National Owners Championship this season.
However, their racing manager Anthony Delpech, interviewed in October, said frankly that if they ever hoped to be champion owners they needed to acquire a Gr 1 winner or two.
They had never had a Gr 1 winner before and there were no Gr 1 winners evident among their horses at the time, with the possible exception of the ever improving sprinter, the Peter Muscutt-trained Isivunguvungu.
However, their relationship with Ridgemont, who kindly leased good horses to them, began to bare fruit.
The Ridgemont-bred three-year-old Dynasty filly, the Brett Crawford-trained Make It Snappy, was one of the horses they leased.
Pundits sat up and took notice when she beat the smart Marina and the former Gr 1 WSB Cape Fillies Guineas winner Chansonette by three lengths over 1600m in the Summer Bowl in just her third career start.
However, she was receiving 11kg from both, so she was still quoted at double figure odds in the opening betting for the WSB Cape Fillies Guineas.
A flurry of money saw her starting 6/1 and she gave Hollywood their first ever Gr 1 winner.
It was the conversion of a lifelong dream for Owen Heffer.
However, even then, none of the Hollywood team could have imagined they would have five Gr 1 wins under the belt by the end of the season.
Make It Snappy downed four older Gr 1-winning stalwarts in her next start in the Gr 1 Cartier Paddock Stakes i.e. the reigning Equus Horse of The Year Captain’s Ransom, Woolavington 2000 winner Silver Darling, Hollywoodbets Durban July winner Sparkling Water and Willgerbosdrift Triple Tiara heroine Rain In Holland.
Luyolo Mxothwa rode Make It Snappy in both of her Gr 1 wins.
Perhaps Hollywood’s most rewarding Gr 1 win was with Anfields Rocket in the Gr 1 WSB SA Classic. He is by unheralded sire Coup De Grace and they bought him in training from trainer Grant Maroun. Magnanimously, they did not take him away from Maroun’s yard. The deal paid dividends in the best way possible way. The versatile gelding stayed on resolutely under Raymond Danielson to win the SA Classic.
Meanwhile, Isivunguvungu, the powerfully built What A Winter gelding named by Springbok Odwa Ndungane, blossomed into the top sprinter he had the potential to be.
After a good Cape Town campaign he won the Gr 1 wfa Computaform Sprint in devastating style despite jumping from the draw which is perceived to be the worst on the Turffontein 1000m course, draw 1.
It was Muscutt’s first Gr 1 win.
On Sunday, Isivunguvungu was over a trip which has stretched him in the past, the 1200m of the Gr 1 wfa Mercury Sprint, because he does tend to take a keen hold.
However, Richard Fourie had analysed a lack of pace in the race and from draw eight around the Hollywoodbets Greyville turn he found the rail.
The Muscutt yard had worked on settling the horse, so they also played a big part in the victory because the masterful Fourie was able to switch the gelding off.
Isivunguvungu thus found extra when challenged and fought back to beat Surjay by 0,30 lengths.
Isivunguvungui will fight out the Equus Champion Sprinter award with the other dual Gr 1-winning sprinter, Gimme A Prince.
Make It Snappy is the only dual Gr 1-winning three-year-old filly and won an open wfa Gr 1, so is the favourite to be made Equus Champion Three-year-old filly.
The Holywood team had a competition to predict how many winners they would have in the season. Delpech would have gone close as he chose 125 and they were just one shy of that number on 124, an improvement of 23 on last season.
It was not only locally that Hollywood and Ridgemont’s racing relationship blossomed. Ridgemont owners the Kieswetters have a stud in Ireland called Barnane Stud and they initially raced a couple of jumps horses together with Hollywood. The Hollywood colours were thus carried to Gr 1 glory by the Willie Mullins-trained hurdler Il Etait Temps at Leopardstown. They also had a couple of runners at the Cheltenham Festival.
Hollywood and Barnane also have a promising campaigner on the flat in the Richard Hannon-trained Siyouni filly Bourgeoisie, who only just failed to win second time out.