FROM our Turf Talk Newsletter on Wednesday, 2 August – A wrap of the 2016/17 South African racing season with comments from the respective champions. Subscribe here for fresh news, daily.
AT the end of the 2016/17 racing season, with all statistics posted, we can look back on several wonderful achievements and one extraordinary feat – Sean Tarry winning his third successive SA Trainers’ Title with an astounding 215 winners and R36, 109 550 in gross stakes earnings.
This all-time South African record was R15-million and more clear of a host of champion trainers in their own right – Justin Snaith, Brett Crawford, Candice Bass-Robinson, Mike de Kock and Geoff Woodruff– underlining the quality of Tarry’s record.
Tarry is playing golf in the Racing Masters at the Wild Coast after which he and his family will be taking a well-deserved holiday in Mauritius. He told Turf Talk: “It’s vaccination time and 95% of our horses are enjoying a break, we’ll have a few of our bread-and-butter runners competing in August.”
Known for always setting higher targets, Tarry said: “This season’s R36-million plus was a long haul and it will be very hard to emulate next season, though it won’t be for a lack of trying. We have some exciting four-year-olds and a group of really nice two-year-olds, though many of them are classic types and not sprinters like we had this season.”
Sean Tarry Racing is now available to follow on Twitter, courtesy of assistant Monique Mansour, @seantarryracing.
While Gavin Lerena will probably see his season as disappointing considering the scattered, third-rate chances he received from the UK’s closed shop of trainers, he did gain some experience on several country tracks and while word is he won’t be going back (and nobody will blame him), his three months away would have rounded him off as an even better rider.
Anthony Delpech grabbed the opportunity of Lerena’s absence with some brilliant riding in the last three months of the season, clinching his third SA title without actually setting out to do it. He rode 195 winners for a 22% strike rate, 43 clear of second-placed Greg Cheyne with Lerena reaching the 150-winner mark in third.
“I had no intention of going for the championship this season,‖ Delpech told Jack Milner of Racing Express. ―It has been a sort of fresh start for me because it’s the first season I have been spon-sored by Mary and Jessica Slack’s Wilgerbos-drift and Mauritzfontein. I also split with Mike de Kock but there is obviously been an overlap as Mary has runners with Mike. I broke my collarbone and was out for two months so I thought that blew my chances.
“The split opened doors everywhere else although I still rode a lot of winners for Mike. When Callan Murray went to Hong Kong he still gave me lots of rides from the Sheikh and other owners.”
Delpech won his first South African Champion Jockey title in the 1998-99 season and followed up in 2002-3. He was runner-up behind Anton Marcus in 2010-11 and 2011-12, and last season finished second to S’manga Khumalo.
When he won the championship in 2003 he rode 334 winners, breaking Piere Strydom’s record.
“When I won the championship that season I was so exhausted I almost couldn’t ride for two months. Your body gets so tired. Amazingly this year I feel really fresh.”
At the age of 48, how many years does Delpech think he still has in the irons?
“At one stage I thought I would retire when I was 50. But I’m feeling good and I’m riding better now than when I was younger.”
Klawervlei Stud has regained the Breeders’ Title from Summerhill Stud, their runners amassing R31-million in stakes, about R11-million clear of Mick Goss’ Mooi River Establishment.
Klawervlei’s biggest earner last season was champion three-year-old William Longsword, who has retired to stud to fill the big boots of his own deceased sire, Captain Al.
John Koster of Klawervlei said: “We are proud to be champions again, especially since we are up against such formidable competition. South Africa has a number of world-class breeders and most of them are investing in international bloodlines and gunning for the title, we have another exciting sea-son ahead of us.”
He said of William Longsword: “He has the most exciting book of mares I’ve seen for a first-season stallion at Klawervlei.”
Koster and his team are also eagerly awaiting the first foals of Coup De Grace, the only son of Tapit at stud in South Africa, while Captain Al’s other son Captain Of All’s first crop will be yearlings next year. He has, according to Koster, produced some magnificent foals.
Koster concluded: “We can’t wait to see how Twice Over’s progeny progress as three-year-olds, considering the fireworks we’ve seen from them as two-year-olds.”
Markus Jooste’s Mayfair Speculators ended the season with R30 773,600, with his friend and col-league Chris van Niekerk in second, his runners having earned R7,825,150. Jooste has dominated the Owner’s Championship since 2007 and he commented: “What an unbelievable season again and we now have ten championship titles in a row, with nine Gr1‟s this year against last season‟s record seven. With earnings in excess of R30m all accolades to Derek Brugman, Anton Marcus and all our trainers and breeders we support!”