HERE is a compilation of some of the best (and some would argue worst) quotes and news bits taken from Turf Talk Newsletters in 2017.  The TT Newsletter is the core of Turf Talk’s service, published daily, Monday-Friday, to a growing niche audience.  The 2018 letters will resume on Wednesday, 3 January. You can read previous editions in our archives, or subscribe free, here.

January 2017
“What sets the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate apart from other race days is its raison d’etre, not one of populous mass scale, but rather one of exclusivity, elegance and panache!” -Cercle Magazine.

“Let  us  fervently  hope  for  consolidation  in  2017  in such   a  way  that  makes  sense   to  the  sales organisations as well  as generating  three  rousing cheers from the breeding community. “  – David Allan.

“He’s a magical horse, he’s very masculine and he moves so freely.  There’s  sex  appeal  about  him.” – Gai Waterhouse about  a Sebring colt bought at Magic Millions Sale.

“The  sale  of  Highlands  Stud from  the  Beck  family  to  the  Kieswetter  family  is  a major step in sustaining and taking forward a proper institution,   perhaps   combining   the   stability   of current  prestige  through  greatly  respected  director Mike Sharkey with powerful new investment.”  – David Allan.

February 2017

“I’m fighting, I’m strong,  and  I  hate  being  stuck  to  a  doctors’  seat  in treatment every day.”  – Then cancer patient Alistair Cohen.

“Somehow, life goes on again, you’ve got to make the most of it and roll on.” – Jockey Freddie Tylicki, paralysed from the waist down in a fall at Kempton Racecourse.

March 2017

“Trainers in SA not only have to train, rising at 4 or 5-something a.m. then communicate with owners, managers and other industry needs in the time between morning and afternoon stables, but they are expected largely to FIND the owners, establish their financial bona fides, then keep them happy. Tough job. The current malaise at sales results from that resource being stretched through no fault of the trainers. They ought to have help.” – David Allan.


“The smaller buyer, the middle market, is all but gone and we don’t have the means to sustain the operation like the bigger farms do. Every time a politician makes a foolish statement, it affects us.” – Keith Russon on the dispersal sale at Backworth Stud.

April 2017

PHUMELELA’s Marketing Executive Clyde Basel is to launch  a  “Lebanese  Dictionary”  to  be  distributed  at  Turffontein  and  the  Vaal  and  also  in  betting  outlets  in Johannesburg’s Buccleuch and Southern Suburbs.  Basel  told  Turf  Talk:  “This is  like  an outreach programme. We need punters to understand each other, to communicate in a civilised manner.  Too  many  fights  are breaking  out  because  non-Lebanese  punters  feel  insulted when  they  hear  expression  like  “Gya,  Yah  Aira,  Ya Garom,  Ya Whayla and  so  many  others.  It’s time we change this. I mean, Ya ut Ya um, there’s no time like the present!”  – from TT April Fools’ Newsletter.

 “So  it’s  lose-lose.  When  we  desperately  need  buyers,  we drive  some  away  by  polarisation  and  clashing;  we  seem unable  to  reach  new  ones;  we  rule  out  the  few  overseas who might make a difference; we preclude ourselves from marketing  to  those  whom  we  might  reach  overseas  by clashing with their events.” – David Allan.

“There is absolutely no question of neglect here and the owners cannot be held responsible for what happened. To my mind, the issue is the theft of horses from our facility and what we can do to prevent this from happening again.”  – Jenny Millington of the Rehoming Centre after the disappearance of Wavin’ Flag and Maximum Flo.

May 2017

“Racehorse ownership’s most promising area of growth, at least outside of the ultra-wealthy, is syndicates and partnerships.” – Tom Kerr, Racing Post

“The UK’s Jamie Osborne tweeted this jewel : “I have come to the conclusion that the collective noun for a group of trainers should be a “complaint of trainers.”

June 2017

“If you’re operating, running and selling races, which I am, you want them to be the best and for that you need international recognition.  I don’t gamble and I don’t know anything about horses. But I was intrigued in being offered this position. When I got here, I saw the top horses, trainers, jockeys, facilities, everything running like clockwork. It feels like we’re organising a mini Olympic Games and watching Usain Bolt every week. That’s the kind of excitement I want us to share with the spectators.”  – Chong  Boo Ching, the new President and Chief Executive of the Singapore Turf Club.

July 2017

“We were just a bunch of guys having fun on a boat. During the afternoon a couple of us joked about Mauritian race caller Shan Ip (known for his loud and often inaudible race commentaries – ed) and we tried to imitate him using the names of different horses like Bulsara, who is long retired.”  – Justin Vermaak, talking about a boat trip in Mauritius with jockey friends and a bookmaker unknown to the group.

“Crowley hit me three times in quick succession on the palm of the hand yesterday after-noon, the third time “as hard as I’d ever hit a horse” and, thanks to the design of his lightweight, foam-cushioned whip, I scarcely felt a thing.” – Journalist Greg Wood from The Guardian, on the Big Whip Debate.

“Horse racing has an incredible capacity to create emotion. It is a sport that makes grown men and and women cry. This emotion is powerful. If captured in engaging content, it can become the vehicle for inspiring positive horse racing moments.” – Vicky Leonard.

“As a comparable, Champion Sprinter Black Caviar had an average peak stride length of 8m/26.25ft (measured from wins in the Newmarket and Lightning Stakes) which is the same average peak stride length of Frankel (measured from the 2000 Guineas and 2012 Sussex Stakes).”   – Byron Rogers, Performance Genetics.

August 2017

“Equestricon looks sure to be a bustling, thriving and thoroughly enjoyable experience. It won’t alter the course of history on its own as far as the long-term future of horse racing is concerned, but it could be a massive step in the right direction.” – Chris Smith of TRC, writing about Equestricon Conference.’

“This is exactly what the ThoroughBlood Blueprint Analysis System aims to overcome while opening the market for many more successful sires. The system is expected to breathe new life in our breeding industry and open additional breeding districts!”  – Fred Brons, Heversham Park Stud.

“As for websites and media. I am not going to compare them because SA doesn’t have a culture like Australia or the UK and media in SA seems to be dying. I did find what looked to be the same old contributors on forums with the same old nags. Ian Jayes, for example, was rambling on about something trivial on Sporting Post. Like he has been forever. I am surprised he can still put pen to paper without falling asleep in his armchair!” – Glenn C Oberholzer, native South African living in Australia.

“Form Bloodstock’s Jehan Malherbe is also there, remarkably cheerful for a man of his years and dishing out his usual chirp about something he didn’t like in a recent Turf Talk Newsletter. Then he walks off to the ring with his sales catalogue to sweat out another hard-earned commission.”  –  Charl Pretorius at the National Two-Year-Old Sale.

“Innovation, forward thinking and flexibility are the things required to ride out the current tough economic climate and plan for the future.” – Michael Holmes,BloodStock SA.

September 2017

“Right then I experience a vision which soon becomes a fantasy and gives me a pure thrill. I imagine Bra Jake and his own troops trekking up the other side of the Mountain Range in search of Afrikaners and middle-aged white men. At the top, near the four baboon camps, they are confronted by viciously aggressive Drills, and Mandrills, who maul them to death, steal their food and hang their money bags in the trees. The baboons bring one fat, smirking head down on a stick to trade for wine and bananas.”  – Charl Pretorius, about the beauty and safety of Moutonshoek Farm.

“Yes, there is a new generation that is entering the horse racing industry, and we’re coming in hot. The look on the faces of the veterans of the industry made one thing pretty obvious:  They know what’s coming, and it’s going to be a very interesting journey. I’m sure most of them are thinking, “You poor, hopeful, obnoxious know-it-all’s, the world is about to f**k you up!– Kathryn Ralphs, writing about SA Racing’s ‘New Generation’.

“…Jonathan Witts-Hewinson has been in the forefront of legal matters (at the NHA) being a practising attorney. During his tenure, he happily supported the debatable expertise and dubious advices of NHA attorney, Nic Roodt. They have previously run roughshod over many in dictatorial fashion whilst on occasion hiding behind numerous manifestly unfair Rules that ordinarily would not pass muster at the Constitutional Court.”  – Robert Bloomberg in the aftermath of the James Goodman caffeine case.

“Tipsters who exclaim  “Boom!” on social media when they have a winner. (May they explode!)”  – TT News article, How To Spot A Bad Tipster.

“Cricket, sadly, also came under fire: “There are any number of cricketers around with long, awful beards. Let’s not beat around the bush here. It goes without saying what these eye-sores are associated with. Trainers are keen sports-watchers. Things like this stick in their minds. They see a bearded jock, in their imagination they see the traditional ‘tokolosche’ or, (please God not but it happens) – a modern-day terrorist. They run for the hills!”  –  Editorial on bearded jockeys, comment  by unknown.

October 2017

“We submitted five names to the NHA, including Peace In Africa and Peace To The World, but they were all rejected. When the last rejection came we cried, “They must be taking the Piss!” and right there the name  ‘Takingthepeace’  was conceived, submitted and, to our surprise, accepted!”  – Michael Shea on the naming of his partnership filly.

“He’s got the most beautiful walk,” Pettigrew explained when asked why he picked the colt. “He walks like a leopard and runs like a cheetah!” – Stuart Pettigrew on his colt, Surcharge.

November 2017

Willie Carson tells this story about Lester Piggott . “He once rode ‘a certainty’ for a trainer with just a few horses. It simply couldn’t lose. They got beat. The trainer told him, ‘You’ll never ride for me again!” Lester replied, “Well, that’s me f****d then’!”  –  TT Newsbits.

“I’m not going to ride a horse again. Upstairs I just couldn’t do it. I’ve been seeing a psychologist up in Newcastle through the PJA (Professional Jockeys Association) which has been good, but I’ve made the decision and that’s it.  They told me I was within half a centimetre of being paralysed and when you see what’s happened to Freddie Tylicki, it just isn’t worth it.” – UK Jockey Greg Chaloner after his third serious fall.

“The National Horseracing Authority’s lawyer Jonathan Witts-Hewinson went vigorously after me. They attacked me as an individual and as a trainer, making derogatory statements, accusing me of being obstructive when all I wanted to do was prove my innocence.”  -James Goodman after calling quits on a 43-year-old training career.

“Jockeys and punters know that you can stand on your head and whistle the National Anthem backwards, but you won’t make a slow horse run faster. There were horses entered for yesterday’s international races that don’t belong in professional racing barns, let alone entered and allocated to world class jockeys. Unnecessary delays and the boring preliminaries didn’t help to make the day a must-watch spectacle either.” –TT Editorial on International Jockeys Challenge.

December  2017

“The prices being paid for breeding stock in the US & Europe underscore the tremendous value in South African bloodstock. Invest here now, before our export protocols get changed, and one will look VERY clever in a few years time!” – Alistair Brown, Equarius Bloodstock

“While recent events concerning Mayfair Speculators have admittedly impacted the broader industry, we can assure our clients that our focus is on ensuring we continue to deliver on our commitment to presenting Sales with the professionalism and style to which our clients have become accustomed.”  – Wehann Smith, CEO of CTS.

“They are driving my horses absolutely mad at the races. There are needles before the race, needles after the race.”  – Trainer John Sadler about Stipes in Australia.

“All of this noise and excitement and gunfire is infectious. And that’s before we get to the summer-time events such as Royal Ascot or the Melbourne Cup in Australia, where women decide that in order to watch a horse running along, they must not wear knickers and should fall over in the paddock every five minutes.”  – Jeremy Clarkson on a day at the races.

“From then the battle was titanic. Colossal. Astonishingly brave. Considering how quickly theywere still galloping. Quickening, even. Would Grundy sail past Bustino? No.”  – David Allan describing the finish of the 1975 King George and QE Stakes.

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