Skip to main content

Shipholia and Shanta’s Pride were led in together to mark a memorable moment for the Hollywood Syndicate and the commentating Peters family. Shiloh Peters after whom Shipholia is partly named, is on the very left next to her mother and father. (Candiese Lenferna Photography).  

 

 
The racemeeting at Hollywoodbets Greyville on May Day 2023 will live long in the memory of Craig and Sheldon Peters and families.
 
Hollywood were going for their 100th win of the season and in the last race their two runners were the pair which Sheldon and Craig had been given the honour of naming, i.e. the Gareth van Zyl-trained Shipholia and the Peter Muscutt-trained Shanta’s Pride. 
 
In fairytale fashion, with three generations of the Peters family standing near the finish line, Shipholia and Shanta’s Pride burst clear.
 
Craig was in the commentary box.
 
Professionalism is always high on the agenda of the Peters’ and they have their responsibility to all owners in mind while commentating.
 
However Craig said on this occasion, with the two horses clear, he allowed emotions to take over.
 
“And here’s the 100th winner!” he shouted with an emotion charged voice. “Shipholia has won it Shanta’s Pride is second!” 
 
He continued, “Well, well, well, I see my family going absolutely crazy downstairs, my wife, Sheldon’s wife, the grandchildren.”
 
Viewers around the country assumed, considering their celebrations, the Peters’ must have been one of the beneficiaries of the bonuses Hollywood dish out to the connections of their 100th winner every season.
 
However, they did not receive any reward … it was all about  the “honour and privilege” of having a double involvement in the milestone moment.
 
Craig and Sheldon said in unison when interviewed today, “The horses were named by father and son; they both named them after their children; father and son are both commentators; both horses are by Willam Longsword; and normally there is something running on but on this occasion they were out on their own, it a was a two-horse race. And added to that we had the honour of being involved in Hollywood’s 100th win of the season!”
 
Sheldon and his wife, plus their two children who Shipholia is named after, had the honour of leading Shipholia in.
 
Craig added, “I finished my slow motion replay analysis up in the commentary box and then rushed down to the parade ring. The celebrations were still going on and it was like having a July winner.”
 
Furthermore, they presented the Hollywood 100th winner bonuses to the winning connections, R10,000 to trainer Gareth van Zyl, R10,000 to jockey Athandiwe Mgudlwa and R2,000 to groom Fumanekile Mfenqa.
 
Craig and Sheldon spoke today about where it all started: “Devin Heffer got hold of us and gave us a list of about 20 horses who were yet to make their debuts and we each were given the honour of choosing one horse to name.”
 
The pedigrees of all the horses were provided, plus pen pictures, purchase price, breeders, trainers as well as a video of them walking.
 
Craig gave the reason he chose Shanta’s Pride, “I went on the breeding and also on the trainer, Peter Muscutt. I looked at the pedigree and said this one could probably sprint and could train on. I liked a few others but cut it down and said ‘this was the one I wanted’. My three children’s names are Sheldon, Angelique and Tacita, so I just took the first two letters of each name to get Shanta. Originally that was to be the name but there was another horse with a similar name. So we just added the Pride to get Shanta’s Pride.” 
 
Sheldon said, “As I pulled the first picture of the 20 up I saw her and I just said ‘Wow, that is a stunning horse!’ I saw the dam’s name Sea Glitter and it rang a bell somewhere and then I watched her walking and I said ‘that’s my choice.’ I looked through the other 19 and there was one dark, black horse I liked but I had already made up my mind.”
 
Sheldon’s daughters’ names are Shiloh and Sophia and hence he named the horse Shipholia.
 
Luckily, Craig and Sheldon had not chosen the same horse, but both were by William Longsword. Shipholia was bred by Klawervlei Stud and Shanta’s Pride by Bush Hill Stud.
 
Craig said the process went very smoothly and added, “Hollywood are extremely professional in everything they do.”
 
Craig and Sheldon have been treated like owners of the respective horses’ ever since, even though officially having no share.
 
Both trainers have been excellent in their communication, with regular reports on their workouts and progress, their race targets and how they have pulled up.
 
Devin also keeps the two commentators continually updated.
 
Craig and Sheldon’s first impressions turned out to be spot on. Shipholia won on debut and has now won twice from six starts, while Shanta’s Pride won third time out and, like Shipholia, looks to be progressive.
 
Ironically, Craig has called both Shipholia’s wins and Sheldon called Shanta’s Pride’s win.
 
“I got a little bit excited when Shanta’s won,” recalled Sheldon about his commentary. “And the feeling of having chosen Shipholia and watching her win first time out was outstanding.”
 
Shipholia is actually not the only horse Sheldon is associated with in SA because he was offered a share in the horse called Sheldon by the Mike Miller yard, having been told he was named after him, although he is not a hundred percent sure of that.
 
Sheldon had the privilege of calling the Hollywood 100th win last season.
 
The pressure had been mounting as they were stuck on 99 with just one race left on MWOS Gold Cup day and one more day of the season after that. However, in that last race Isivunguvungu burst through from just off the pace to win easily with Sheldon providing an unforgettable commentary to mark the exciting moment for Hollywood and the Peter Muscutt yard.
 
Craig and Sheldon said about Hollywood’s initiative in allowing brand ambassadors and other well known people in racing naming rights, “It is an absolutely amazing initiative. It has bought a lot of people into the game and it has given a lot of them more insight. Hopefully in the long term they can start punting and enjoying racing.”
 
Craig concluded, “Hollywood think way ahead of their time. They are very proactive. With the SA Racing Stars Punters Challenge too, they have got all the presenters and journalists etc on board and it is like a new racing world, they have brought everybody together.”
 
Craig is the most experienced Hollywoodbets Durban July commentator of all time and will commentate his 37th July this year, beating the 29 of Ernie Duffield, and Sheldon will be doing his 21st.
 
They find July day particularly exciting because the crowd hang on their every word. They are able to illicit a roar from the crowd at any stage of the race just by emphasising a horse’s name.
 
It is a trademark of both Peters’ to lift their voices when identifying a horse who looks a likely winner and most viewers  appreciate it.
 
However, it has led to some critics falsely claiming they know exactly which horse the two commentators have punted.
 
In reality Craig only ever bets on football.
 
Sheldon is an outstanding punter, but is extremely selective and never bets on feature races. He sticks chiefly to lowly handicaps and if he has two bets in a meeting it is a lot and he can go three weeks without a bet.
 
However, Craig plays along with the critics and once when told by a wag he knew which ones he had punted, he replied, “Ja, I only backed six winners this meeting.”