Queens in the Sport Of Kings

July 9, 2021

The Vodacom Durban July is always a hard act to follow. The following week’s racing feels like we’re being left to clean up after the guests have left the party. Remember those pre-Covid days, writes Gary Lemke for GGGaming.

However, we’re now in the “quieter” period before we finish the season with a bang at Greyville at the end of the month. But, what a week we’ve had, and a fine one on which to reflect.

Kommetdieding’s popular victory in the Durban July – he started at odds of 10-1 – showed that in this sport the little people don’t always have to come second. Ashwin Reynolds is the sole owner of the colt and he still hasn’t come off cloud nine.

He was called by veteran trainer Harold Crawford who asked him if he could buy a horse at the

sales. “OK, go ahead, but I’ve only got R80 000 to spend,” Ashwin told him. Kommetdieding was knocked down under the hammer for R55 000 and the rest is history and hysteria.

The colt fended off the two favourites Linebacker and Got The Greenlight in courageous fashion and gave Crawford’s daughter Michelle Rix her first Vodacom Durban July winner.

They call racing the Sport of Kings, but two of the last five runners of the July – the jewel in the season’s crown – have been won by female trainers. Candice Bass-Robinson became the first with Marinaresco in 2017 and now Rix has followed suit with Kommetdieding. 

It shows there is room for Queens amongst the Kings in this sport.

However, what has also been glossed over is that there were two Grade One races (the pinnacle of racing) at Greyville last weekend and both were won by female trainers. While Rix produced the winner of the July, Bass-Robinson sent out the 75-1 outsider Zarina to win the G1 Garden Province Stakes. 

Zarina, who races in the colours of Marsh Shirtliff, who also owned July winners Marinaresco and Pocket Power, came with a scintillating finishing run to get between War Of Athena and Princess Calla and put her nose down in front on the line. The race has been billed as a straight fight between the two best three-year-old fillies in the land, War Of Athena and Captain’s Ransom, but both were eclipsed by Zarina.

Apart from us saluting and celebrating the Grade One triumphs of two of South Africa’s female trainers, champion jockey elect Lyle Hewitson hit the magic 250 winners mark for the season, at the Vaal on Thursday. That is a milestone he has never achieved before and the young man is going places, already tying up his third national jockeys’ title.

This week there is racing around the country, but it could pay to follow Bass Racing at Fairview on Friday and at Kenilworth on Saturday. I am part owner of On Your Marks, who runs in race four at Fairview on Friday and we’re expecting him to win.

On Saturday at Kenilworth, Bass Robinson has strong chances with Sky God (race one), Sun Dazed (race two), Crimson Princess (race six) and Do Angels Cry (race seven). 

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