Even with its regular doses of politics, woes and heartaches, racing continues to deliver the kind of special moments that keep viewers glued to their screens and get the die-hards returning for their ‘fix’ of the kind of pure emotion only this wonderful sport can bring.
Approaching Race 4 over 1450m at the Vaal on Tuesday, 4Racing’s hosts, Alistair Cohen and Nico Kritsiotis, were debating who would be interviewing trainer Jannie Borman if his runner Lorna Lily, the firm favourite, managed to win it. Both were keen, because Lorna Lily was about to provide a rare winner to a trainer who carries his heart on his sleeve and is known for his impassioned conversations in the winner’s enclosure.
Alistair must have won the coin toss, or perhaps he just beat recently-turned 60, Nico, for speed down the stairs from the commentary box to the winners circle. Lorna Lily got there in an exciting finish under Dennis Schwartz, and this was always going to be a chat worth watching.
Jannie (70) said: “I am so pleased with this win because I bought Lorna Lily online for R7,000. She came from Lucky Houdalakis and she had an early scare on the track so she was intractable. I decided to start from scratch with her, broke her in and reschooled her and over time she improved. It was satisfying to see her win. She races for Shaun Potgieter, who runs a food business in Port Elizabeth and has supported me from my early days of training in Bloemfontein.”
Jannie’s held his licence since 1997 and said: “I started training on a farm with my dad, Henry Sham. When I took out my own licence I trained at Bloemfontein alongside Mike Maclachlan and Bertie van der Merwe and in 2005 I went to Kimberley.”
He joked: “Kimberley was great until Markus Jooste brought all his battling runners and gave them to the late Peter Miller to train. Peter had 80 horses at one stage, charging R8,000 a month, the rest of us were charging R2,500. Peter must be a millionaire, wherever he is now!”
Jannie has three horses stabled at the Vaal – the older stabling area on the right side of the main entry road. Since the closure of Kimberley Racecourse in 2019 and the subsequent onset of Covid, he has never had more than five runners in his care and his has been an uphill battle. From being a regular in the frame at Flamingo Park with runners like seven-time winner Beach Flight, and multiple winners Groovy News, Whistling Gill and Razzle My Tazzle, Jannie’s had only three winners since moving to the Vaal, but he’s knuckled down, hoping for someone to step through his door.
“I am a good trainer and I can prove it. All I need is a few more horses in my yard. If I can get just five or six more I will be a blessed man!”
Aside from Lorna Lily he has Forever Mary, a filly by Wings Of Desire, unplaced in three runs but growing stronger after a rest and better than her form suggests; and an unraced filly by One World that looks promising.
Jannie was accompanied on Tuesday by Sylvester Makoena and he said: “Sylvester is a good friend to me, it gets lonely here at the Vaal. We discuss things, we have a braai now and then and a few beers, and he helps me mentally. He previously owned racehorses but now is focused on running his businesses with his family. I live here at my yard, I’ve made it neat and nice, a good place to train. Stephen Moffatt and his son have also been helpful. And my groom, William Kepele, has been with me 14 years, through thick and thin. He is just the best in the land!
“Now, all I have to do is fill some of my boxes. I am here for the love of horses and the game, I have a happy stable with room for owners. It’s not easy to train moderate horses, one goes faster driving a Mercedes Benz than a Tata. I am capable of training good horses!”