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Mary Slack’s famous black with a scarlet cap colours will be on the Hollywoodbets Durban July wall of honour in the Hollywoodbets Greyville classic room for the first time courtesy of the Mike de Kock-trained four-year-old filly Sparkling Water (Silvano), who was ridden by S’Manga Khumalo in Saturday’s showpiece event.
 
However, it is the 7th time a member of the Oppenheimer family have won the race as owners.
 
Six of those winners have been with homebreds and they have bred a further two July winners.
 
Mary’s parents Harry and Bridget Oppenheimer became involved in horseracing after buying a farm in Kimberley in 1945 and setting up Mauritzfontein Stud.
 
Mauritzfontein has remained in the family and now partners with Wilgerbosdrift Stud, a stud which Mary founded after buying a farm in Piketberg in the Western Cape in 1997.
 
The Oppenheimer family have been on the July winner’s roll nine times in total:
 
1959 Tiger Fish (Janus) owned by Mr and Mrs HF Oppenheimer bred by HF Oppenheimer trained by Tim Furness ridden by Benny Little
 
1965 King Willow (Wilwyn) owned by Mr and Mrs HF Oppenheimer bred by HF Oppenheimer trained by John Breval ridden by Ian Bailey.
 
1975 Principal Boy (Free Ride) owned by Mr and Mrs HF Oppenheimer bred by Mr and Mrs HF Oppenheimer trained by John Breval ridden by Robbie Thompson
 
1992 Spanish Galliard (Gay Fandango) owned by Mr and Mrs H F Oppenheimer and Mr D G Nicholson bred by estate late HI Khan trained by Dennis Drier and ridden by Robbie Sham
 
2003 Dynasty (Fort Wood) owned by Fieldspring Racing bred by Wilgerbosdrift Stud trained by Dean Kannemeyer ridden by Robbie Fradd
 
2004 Greys Inn (Zabeel) owned by Mrs Bridget Oppenheimer bred by Mrs Bridget Oppenheimer trained by Mike de Kock ridden by Anthony Delpech
 
2007 Hunting Tower (Fort Wood) owned by Mrs Bridget Oppenheimer bred by Mrs Bridget Oppenheimer trained by Charles Laird ridden by Anton Marcus
 
2017 Marinaresco (Silvano) owned by MW Bass, F Green, Bryn Ressell and NM Shirtliff bred by Mauritzfontein (Pty) Ltd (Nom: Miss J B Slack) trained by Candice Bass-Robinson ridden by Bernard Fayd’Herbe
 
2022 Sparkling Water (Silvano) owned by Wilgerbosdrift Pty Ltd bred by Wilgerbosdrift and Mauritzfontein trained by Mike de Kock ridden by S’Manga Khumalo
 
Mary’s black with a scarlet cap colours were registered by Isaac “Jack” Barnato Joel in England in 1900 and gifted to her by his son Harry “Jim” Joel many years later.
 
The connection between the Joel and Oppenheimer family’s was through the De Beer’s diamond company.
 
Jack Joel’s uncle Barney Barnato took him and his brothers Solly and Woolf under his wing and they made a fortune with the Barnato Diamond Mining Company in Kimberley.
 
Barnato’s diamond companies formed a merger with the companies of Cecil John Rhodes in 1888 to create De Beers Consolidated Mines.
 
Diamond dealer Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, Mary’s grandfather, became chairman of De Beers in 1929 having earlier been their strongest opposition as the foremost diamond expert in the world.
 
The famous black with a scarlet colours have been carried to three Epsom Derby victories by Sunstar in 1911, Humorist in 1921 and Royal Palace in 1967.
 
Sunstar and Humorist were owned by Jack Joel and Royal Palace was owned by Jim Joel.
 
Jack’s brother Solomon (“Solly”) Joel, who had pink colours with green stripes, also won the Derby in 1915 with Pommern.
 
Solly Joel won two July’s, in 1921 with Longstop (St. Denis) and in 1928 with Glen Albyn (Bridge Of Earn).
 
Mary Slack’s name first appears in Volume 61 of the SA Racing Calendar, alongside E. de Rothschild and H. J. Joel, when the two-year-old bay colt Henry Higgins won on debut over 1200m at Newmarket on 31 March 1965.
 
Henry Higgins wore the famous Joel silks – black body with a red cap – and Jim Joel eventually gave Mary the colours to use in South Africa.
 
The one missing piece in the jigsaw is now complete as the colours are now on the honour’s roll of the country’s premier race.
 

They will hang on the Hollywoodbets Greyville Classic Room Wall of Honour together with the equally famous Oppenheimer silks, Black, yellow sash, sleeves and cap.

Mary Slack leads in her first July winner as an owner flanked by her son-in-law Stephen Jell  (Anneke Akal Kitching).