For a guy who began in the paint industry, trainer Paul Peter is now splashing the colour red. It is red for danger as far as his stable opponents are concerned.
And – as news channels are fond of saying – “we have Breaking News” – statistics from the NHRA (up to and including March 28) put Peter in front for the first time in this season’s trainers log.
His stakes total is R13 162 438 and Justin Snaith R13 109 963.
Amazing to think that – just a month ago – punters could have got 6-1 about the Turffontein conditioner winning his first trainers title. Those odds have been trimmed to 5-2.Hardly a meeting goes by without Paul saddling a couple of winners and that means he’s nearly overhauled his 2020/21 season total of 155. There are four months of the campaign left so 200 wins looks attainable.
Picture: Michael Bega
So time for this scribe – with one month remaining before reaching 50 years as a racing journo – to catch up with the current King of Turffontein.
Paul kindly responded to the following questions:
At the end of last season you could hold your head high after finishing second in the national trainers log. Yet when the sums were added up you were R2,7 million adrift of Justin Snaith. At the beginning of this campaign, did you feel you had the firepower to rein in Snaith or was it a pipedream?
It has always been a dream of mine to be champion trainer in South Africa, however I did not have the older stock and firepower that the Snaith team have, but I felt I had a chance with my younger horses, 2 and 3 year olds. They have been performing well and helping me stay in contention.
We as a team decided at the beginning of the season that we were going to give it our best shot and work our butts off to be competitive and what we lack in stock we made up in work ethic.
Your tally of winners this term – 148 (or possibly more!) means you have nearly overhauled last season’s total of 155 – and there’s still four months of the campaign remaining! Have you been inundated with new owners (understandable given the stable’s success) and now have far more horses in your care?
There has been more interest shown by having more owners however, our loyal stalwart have been supporting us with a higher caliber of horses which we appreciate very much. The numbers remain the same at this stage.
Do you have the firepower to challenge for some of the big prizes during the forthcoming KZN season?. You can be sure Justin and Jonathan Snaith have been burning the midnight oil planning the right races for their team. Smorgasbord certainly looks an exciting youngster for Scottsville but the Hollywoodbets Durban July now carries a gross stake of R5 million and Snaith entries include Jet Dark, Double Superlative and Pomp And Power.
Yes I do feel that we have firepower for the number of features that are coming up in KZN, we should be strong on the Scottsville sprint day, however we are hoping for one of our young 3 year olds to come through and be competitive in the July.
Our 2 year olds are also very decent and could be a strong contenders in the 2 year old features.
Not so long ago, pundits would have described Warren Kennedy as a “journeyman” jockey – he won his races but was very much in the shadow of the likes of Lyle Hewitson, Richard Fourie, Greg Cheyne, S’manga Khumalo and Muzi Yeni. Today he’s 70 winners clear in the national jockeys log! Warren has become a vital clog in your success – have you noticed a change in confidence over the last two years?
Warren has been riding for me for over 3 years and he is just oozing confidence which I feel he transfers to the horses. Warren is a tenacious jockey and is an exceptional good judge of pace and knows my horses style of racing and it’s a pleasure to have him riding for us as we never have to give him instructions, he knows what to do and what will suite the horse.
The exploits of Summer Pudding unquestionably gained you recognition from the racing public who previously were only familiar with the names of Justin Snaith, Sean Tarry and Mike De Kock. Do you feel a stable needs one star every season who can earn the big bucks?
Yes, Summer Pudding has given us exceptional exposure and she was just a darling to train and gave us so much confidence, I really owe a lot to her. It is very difficult to get a horse like Summer Pudding every season as they are very far and few; we were just Blessed to have her. At the moment we don’t have another Summer Pudding however we have a lot of genuine horses that are trying their hearts out and winning races.
It would be much easier to have one of these horses every season however it’s not a necessity when you have horses that are hard Knockers and give of their best.
It’s exactly 12 years since you saddled your first runner (Rocabar at the Vaal in April 2010) – how important were those early days in learning the ropes and the present day with the expertise of Ormond Ferraris?
Those early days were very important, it taught us a lot, as well as to appreciate every winner whether it be a group 1 or a maiden at the Vaal.
Ormonde Ferraris has been phenomenal in that in the beginning I wanted a quick result so I bought more of the sprinting type horse and since I’ve met Mr Ferraris, he has taught me how to train stayers, the fine line of getting them fit without overdoing it. He is really clued up on his feeding and horse nutrition.
Slow-paying owners remain the biggest headache for trainers – they are caught between a rock and a hard place. Do you have a happy band of owners – if post-race interviews are any guide the answer has to be in the affirmative.
I have a happy band of owners who are good payers, this makes training a lot easier which I am very grateful for.
Gary Player won nine major championships in an illustrious career. You have already chalked up one major in the Summer Cup – do you now have your sights set on victory in one of our other majors, the July and Met?
Most definitely, it’s every trainers dream to win the Big 3. We are buying that type of horse at the moment, and we are working very hard as a team towards winning these types of races.
To say this writer is not “100% happy” would be fairly accurate. On Sunday I had to pay the wife R400 as her favourite sportsman, Frankie Dettori, came up trumps once again in another of the planet’s big races.
On Saturday night – and after confirming that it didn’t coincide with her favourite programme “Law & Order” – we settled down to listen to Mr Cohen’s first delivery of a Dubai World Cup fully expecting him to call either Life Is Good or Hot Rod Charlie the winner.
“I’ll have 50 on Frankie – he always rises to the big occasion,” said my better-half.
“You can have 8-1 as Matt (in San Diego) says I should lump on Hot Rod Charlie – he says wherever Life Is Good finishes “Charlie” will be in front of him.
He nearly got it right. Hot Rod Charlie was coming home strongly on the inside rail – but evergreen Frankie – now 51 years of age – had timed his finish as expertly as Christiano Ronaldo does on the football park.
After my Mala Mala experience with Frankie and Mick Kinane, you can bet your last duram that champagne was flowing well into the night in a city where the Italian-born rider once ruled the roost.
Another of his great attributes – in contrast to some of his jockey colleagues – is his easy rapport with the media. He didn’t disappoint on Saturday night telling reporters that his 16 year drought of not winning this race had been “an itch I’ve been desperate to scratch.”
From the year 2000 up to – and including 2006 – Frankie stole the World Cup show in the Godolphin blue winning on Dubai Millennium, Moon Ballad and Electrocutionist. Those three victories came at Nad Al Sheba so Country Grammer’s success was his first at Meydan.
Frankie will also get a healthy cheque for dead-heating on Lord North in the Dubai Turf – a race which demonstrated everything that is good about the sport.
The length of time it took to determine the result was longer than the El Picha-Young Rake Durban July drama in 2000.
Lord North’s trainer, John Gosden, said “we got ourselves in a Japanese sandwich” but once again Frankie got the most out of his mount to share the spoils.
As the latest offering from the International Racing Club website points out, it was a question of the Japanese putting their rivals to the sword at Meydan. They won five of the nine races including two Gr 1’s.
The decision to purchase 1989 North America Horse-of-the-Year, Sunday Silence, for their breeding ranks was a masterful move. Four of their five wins on Saturday were by sons and grandsons of this mighty stallion.
Final word from the wife. “I’m going to put some of my winnings on whatever Frankie’s riding in the Derby – particularly if Bob Baffert sends one over.”