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Second Base, in the light blue colours, only just fails to win the Gr 1 Premier’s Champions Challenge (JC Photos)

Trainer Robyn Klaasen and owner “Stincky” Pooe respectively have their first runner in the Hollywoodbets Durban July, the five-year-old Gimmethegreenlight gelding Second Base, whom they recently purchased in training.

He will provide Chase Maujean with a second ride in the big race.

In his first run for the Klaasen yard Second Base failed by a hair’s breadth to win the Gr 1 weight for age (wfa) Premier’s Champions Challenge at odds of 33/1.
 
However, he is being ignored by the punting public again and is out at 40/1 with the sponsor.
 
Klaasen finds this hard to understand.
 
She said, “He beat a couple of the runners in the Champions Challenge (Rain In Holland and Billy Bowlegs) and just about dead-heated with Puerto Manzano and he’s better off at the weights with all three of those horses, so I can’t understand why people are ignoring him.”
 
(*Second Base is better off with all three of those horses in actual weight terms but if weight for age is taken into account Billy Bowlegs is effectively 1kg better off with him for a 1,05 length beating). 
 
Robyn then admitted, “But it is also hard because Second Base has only had one good run … it’s not easy to look past all of that previous form.”
 
However, her following words will make a few people sit up and take notice.
 
“I think he just needed the change of environment. We had only had him for just over three weeks before the Champions Challenge, so I can’t say I was able to work a miracle in three weeks, it doesn’t happen. I think he is just a much happier horse in the new environment. We’re a small stable, so he gets a lot of our attention being the biggest horse in my yard. I think it is just those small things that have made the difference. Chase’s feedback is he’s a completely different horse even from when he was a three and four-year-old running all of those good races. He (Chase) feels he’s even better now than he was then.”
 
Robyn said about the draw of 13, “He has in the past sometimes missed the break, so I’m happy where we are because we can stay out of all the early traffic problems and find a nice position.”
 
She said about the tight racecourse, “I think he has only had one previous start at HWB Greyville, in last year’s July, and from draw 15 he sat stone last and had nowhere to go. The track is not a worry of mine at all.”
 
She confirmed Second Base had a decent turn of foot, a valuable weapon at Hollywoodbets Greyville considering the horse-shoe shape and the short 450m straight.
 
Robyn is related through marriage to record-breaking reigning champion trainer Paul Peter, who is now sadly retired.
 
However, Paul’s son Tony has opened a yard and it is close enough for Robyn to access some of their facilities, like horse walkers and treadmills, which they kindly allow her to use. She said Paul also responds to any advice she asks for. 
 
Robyn was asked what prompted her to buy Second Base off a BSA online Sale. 
 
She replied she knew Second Base from racing and having watched all of his previous runs felt he still had more to give. When she saw him on the Sale she really wanted him and managed to land him for what is now looking a bargain R150,000.
 
She said about the share taken by Mr Pooe, “I was desperate to buy the horse and I only had my Uncle who agreed to take a half-share, so I was just looking for someone to take the other half. It was over Easter time and Mr Pooe was away but I must have phoned him about 30 times and pestered him until he said yes!” 
 
Mr Pooe only had a 50% share in one other horse in the Klaasen yard at the time, but will now be glad he took the plunge as he admitted at the final field and draw ceremony he had been dreaming of having a July runner for a long time. 
 
Second Base, like Billy Bowlegs, will have to overcome 89 years of history to win the race. Not since Sun Tor came off a 161 day break to win the July in 1934 has a July winner come off as long a layoff as Second Base’s 63 days.
 
However, Robyn is apparently unperturbed by this and concluded, “He’s fit, he’s well, we’ve been very happy with his work. All the work’s been done and there’s nothing much else we can do other than rock up.”
 
Second Base will travel down early Friday morning.