HANABI couldn’t fetch a reasonable bid in the auction ring due to having only one eye, but this hasn’t affected her performance on the racetrack.

Leased by Barbara Sanne’s Oldlands Stud to trainer Eric Sands and partners, four-year-old Hanabi is, however, carving a nice career for herself which already reflects 17 runs for 5 wins and 6 places, and over R260,000 in stake earnings – this after her Listed win in Sunday’s Highlands Stud Olympic Duel Stakes over 1200m at Kenilworth.

Hanabi has stepped up in promising fashion recently, easily winning a MR88 Handicap over 1400m in March and following up under 60kg to win a MR77 in May, racing 5 points higher on the handicapper’s scale.

She was penalised a further four points for that run, but that shouldn’t have been enough to put punters off as she was in at bottom weight and on a winning streak. She did however, drift to 25-1 from an opening call of 10s.

Sands told Turf Talk:  “I was surprised at Hanabi’s long odds because she’s done everything right and came into the race with a handy weight. We were looking for a handicap feature for her. She has a habit of only kicking on when something passes her, but I told jockey Lucien Africa to ride her as he saw fit, even if they were to end right up on the outside rail, which is what he did.  She kept on well to win, she’s been a fun horse for us.”

Hanabi, by VAR from Cyber Toy, by Modern Day, races for Sand’s friends George Kucera and Davey Pretorius, as well as UK-based Michael Richardson, the father of Sands’ assistant trainer. The fourth partner is the Sands Grooms Racing Trust, comprising 14 grooms of the Sands stable.

“Every year we share a horse with our grooms, those who have been with me for three months or longer qualify for this. They receive shares equivalent to the time they’ve served in the yard,” said Sands.

A good initiative and a job well done.

Photo by Wayne Marks.

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