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Great Cat (Dynasty) wins for Brett Crawford and Hollywood Syndicate at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth today under Sean Veale (Picture: Wayne Marks)

Brett Crawford started the New Year on a winning note with the news in the Sporting Post that he had joined the Hollywoodbets stable, meaning he is now sponsored by South Africa’s leading international sportsbook operator.

This weekend Brett Crawford Racing kicked into overdrive with five winners in all, a treble at Turffontein Standside and a double at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth, and today (Monday) they added another double at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth.

Carwford Racing’s first winner for Hollywood Syndicate since the sponsorship announcement was made was with the Ridgemont-bred Canford Cliffs colt King Of Spin (ridden by Luyolo Mxothwa) on Saturday at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth and today the partnership had another one with the Ridgemont-bred Dynasty filly Great Cat (ridden by Sean Veale).

Hollywood Syndicate are now one short of a milestone 500 wins, which they might well reach on Wednesday at Hollywoodbets Greyville, where they reportedly have no fewer than eleven runners.

Hollywoodbets sponsor a variety of trainers countrywide, and the formal signing of a sponsorship partnership agreement with the powerful racing stable was a further building block in the symbiotic relationship that already existed between the popular purple brand and two leading industry players in Brett Crawford Racing and the Kieswetter family owned international breeding powerhouse, Ridgemont.

Talking to the Sporting Post on New Years day, Crawford said that it was an honour and a privilege for his team to take up the offer of partnering with a winning name in what is a natural step in the evolution of an association that had its roots in the Hollywood Syndicate-Ridgemont partnership that started some two years ago.

“We have been fortunate to see our support by the Hollywood Syndicate grow exponentially through their partnership with our existing top owners Ridgemont, and the momentous achievement last season of a Cape summer Grade 1 double courtesy of the brilliant Ridgemont-bred and Hollywood Syndicate-raced Dynasty filly Make It Snappy remains one of my personal career highlights.”

Make It Snappy won the Gr 1 WSB Cape Fillies Guineas and the Gr 1 Cartier Paddock Stakes.

The 52 year old conditioner, the reigning Hollywoodbets Durban July champion trainer, added that the contribution and supporting pillars provided to South African horseracing by the Hollywood brand over the past few years was unquestionably a lifechanger for the industry, and that he would carry the yellow and purple flag with pride into what is set to be an exciting 2024.

“We have all seen how the Hollywood team do things – simply properly and professionally. It’s the way I would like to believe I try and run my own business,” added Crawford.

Hollywoodbets Brand & Communications Manager Devin Heffer reciprocated Brett Crawford’s thoughts on the evolution of the broader partnership between the top stable, and the union between the Hollywood Syndicate and Ridgemont.

“The synergy and common goals for the good of racing, that already exist in what has been a thoroughly enjoyable and winning association for our team, now get taken to the next level with Hollywoodbets’ sponsorship of Brett Crawford Racing. We look forward to many more memorable racing moments!” added Devin Heffer.

With 35 career Grade 1 winners, including victories in the Durban July, Met, and the Queen’s Plate to his name since starting his career at the turn of the century, Brett Crawford ranks amongst South Africa’s pre-eminent trainers of the 21st century.

The Brett Crawford Racing headquarters are at Futura Park in Philippi, where he has a string of 120.

He also established a satellite base at Randjesfontein under the management of his 24 year old son James, some three seasons ago. The Brett Crawford Racing head count is currently 40 on the Highveld.

“While the renaissance of Cape Racing has been nothing short of remarkable, there was a time when our racing was in serious trouble and reportedly days away from business rescue. We have a loyal staff nucleus and many families that rely on us, and it was at that time that we had to reconsider our future business prospects and we looked North.”

Brett’s son James was fortunate to spend some time under the mentorship of the master Mike de Kock as part of his apprenticeship to run the new base.

“I learnt my trade from some great trainers, and James is very fortunate to have learnt from the best. A good foundation, like a good start, is vital and I knew he could only go forward. Fortuitously, the move to open a satellite yard has thus proven a winner on all fronts, with James showing his dedication and ability, and the yard proving a highly successful feeder base into our successful KZN Champion season raids – Winchester Mansion’s sensational victory in the 2023 Hollywoodbets Gr1 Durban July being the most notable!”

Crawford has a fine record in the country’s premier weight for age mile, the Gr 1 L’Ormarins King’s Plate, and in seven vintage renewals of the royal mile between 2013 and 2019, he won it once, ran second three times, third once, fourth once, and fifth once.

“I won this great race with the top-class Futura in 2015, and then that very special horse Jackson, also a son of Dynasty, ran second in consecutive years. He was beaten in 2013 by Variety Club and the next year by Capetown Noir. And then our big boy Captain America – he ran fourth, second and third consecutively in the ‘Legal Eagle years’ of 2016, 2017 and 2018. Undercover Agent ran fifth in 2019.”

This year Crawford saddled a Hollywoodbets horse in the King’s Plate, the 2023 WSB Gr1 SA Classic winner Anfields Rocket.

He finished a respectable eighth.

Earlier Crawford and Hollywood had gone close to causing a massive upset in the Gr 1 Cartier Paddock Stakes.

Their charge Happy Chance went within 0,60 lengths of winning the prestigious fillies and mares weight for age event over 1800m, beaten only by the now twice Gr 1 winner Beach Bomb and the reigning Equus Horse Of The Year Princess Calla.

Crawford is obviously relishing being sponsored by Hollywoodbets as his yard has been firing on all cylinders since the announcement was made.