A TRAIN OF THOUGHT WITH A FEW STATIONS ALONG THE WAY: Turf Talk – 16 October 2017

BURRA Boy (Brandon Lerena) with happy connections at Greyville Sunday. (Candiese Marnewick).

If you were a racehorse, you would want to be owned by the Richard family. Or someone with the same outlook in enjoyment and horse welfare.

At Greyville yesterday, their BURRA BOY won for the third time in the hands of Brandon Lerena. Brandon had discussed with trainer Mark Dixon – whose faith in the horse has been consistent throughout – the mind games involved in getting this 6 year old thinker to put his best foot forward. Whatever they did yesterday worked impressively by 3¼ lengths.

It is a month of Sundays since he won last time – probably close to literally if you do the arithmetic. Perhaps it has taken a couple of years of racing life to be dropped in the handicap to his lower winning level of yesterday which seems a shame.

But there he was. Persevered with through his trainer‟s advice by sympathetic owners who bonded with their horse on the sale ground where they bought him. Not, I hasten to add, the pony-patter type of owners who are fine – sometimes delightful – so long as someone is advising and helping them, but experienced owners who know their racing very well and build-in a concern for horse welfare.

How do I know this? I bred him and sold him in person at the sales and was delighted that he became a 2x winner (now 3 after a gap) not only to help his siblings but for the sheer enjoyment of it. He is by Tiger Dance who was substantially shunned by the Cape breeding community, yet to me was above all a full brother to the great GIANT’S CAUSEWAY, Champion Racehorse and Champion Sire.

Grab a Tiger Dance mare if you see one!

Although it is true that few good mares went to him in the Cape so a TD with a pedigree is a rarity. I “grabbed” one, a juvenile winner off the track, from the monster back family of GYPSY MOSS, and a half sister to the Allan Robertson placed Main Emblem. But if you can‟t find one, I could
find you a Giant‟s Causeway or Freud (another full brother) mare. You have my number. But why would you want me to do that?

Giant’s Causeway, valuable blood.

Because – when Tiger Dance wasn‟t getting much trade YOU’RESOTHRILLING happened in addition to the string of full brother stallions. She is a full sister to the boys and has been nothing short of stupendous in the breeding shed.

Firstly she won the Cherry Hinton at Newmarket (Gr2 for juvenile fillies) then the Naas Gr3 sprint, plus assorted serious Stakes places. Then she started on the road to motherhood producing:

MARVELLOUS winner Irish 1,000 Guineas Gr1

GLENEAGLES Champion twice over (if you‟ll pardon the expression) winner UK and Irish 2,000 Guineas Gr1, St James‟ Palace Stakes Gr1, National Stakes Gr1 etc etc

HAPPILY winner Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere Gr1 and Moyglare Stud Stakes Gr1 etc etc

COOLMORE winner Park Stakes Gr3, 3rd Belmont Oaks Gr1 etc (that‟s a horse Coolmore named Coolmore)

Taj Mahal winner and Gr1 2nd etc.

Yet another full sibling Pearling is dam of a hero of 2017 DECORATED KNIGHT who won his third Gr1 (Irish Champion Stakes, popping over from
England).

OK. Every one of those top class winners from You‟resothrilling and Pearling is by GALILEO. It helps when you own the stallion and these mares. But there are plenty of Galileos that are not as world class as all that lot, so the argument in favour of the GIANT ‟ S CAUSEWAY/T IGER DANCE/ YOU‟RESOTHRILLING genetic mix still holds.

BURRA BOY is hardly world class. My mare was merely one of the ordinary ones who managed to produce two winners by Tiger Dance and two more by other stallions. Nothing top class (yet – the 3yo is pretty good….). However, his win today reminded me of the way some stallions can become lost.

Tiger Dance, good blood shunned by breeders.
Tiger Dance, good blood shunned by breeders.

Going back to BURRA BOY‟s exemplary owners, I must make one particular point. I would be pretty sure that a strong part of their bond with this fellow
is his name.

I didn‟t name him. It is not something I had ever seen a breeder do before coming to South Africa, give or take one-offs every few years in the U.S amongst many thousands. The horse will belong to whoever owns him or her.

Not long after selling the (then) colt, I met (within our global thoroughbred village) one of the owning family for a pint in a pub in the Surrey Hills. He told me of the name and why. That is how I know that it has particular meaning for the owners – as it always should – and why I am able to hazard a guess that their feeling for his welfare is enhanced by that
element of bonding.

Burra Boy with his dam, Selika, six years ago!
Burra Boy with his dam, Selika, six years ago!

So I could add to my first paragraph that, given the choice, you (the racehorse) should like the owners to name you. Of course.

If we want more owners in South Africa to replace the dwindling existing brigade, then let’s take a major step in the direction of owner satisfaction and stop naming by breeders altogether.

I am sure that some would be relieved. Many have already stopped naming. Those older generation breeders who say they want to name so that they can follow “their” horses easily are out of step. The horse is no longer theirs, and anyway all software that tracks runners is triggered by the name of the dam, or in some cases of the breeder, never the name of the horse.

Some owners don‟t care, or say they don‟t care, but an increasing number have bought “unnamed” or render any breeder naming a waste of time by changing the name. “This is the way we do it in South Africa” may sometimes be a fair means of justification. But in South Africa we have that
dwindling brigade of owners. – tt.