FROM MARES IN KARKLOOF TO DARK HORSES IN JAPAN
IT IS NOT often that one finds himself in matters to do with dressage and grooms, but there we were, heavily invested in all matters to do with the KZN Eventing Championships.
Karkloof Country Club was the scene, and there was more than one eyebrow raised when the chunky darkie strolled in, late on Friday night.
The crowd at these matters is eclectic; a combination of those with a lifelong love affair with the fillies, and their eternal support crew, with the carpark heaving with mud-splattered SUVS, carting all their dreams from event to event.
It is not your usual sporting fare for this scribe, but the current climate dictates that one must be versatile enough to dabble in the most peculiar of territories.
And so, with much excitement, and layers of clothing, we turned up intent to soak in the wonder that is the cross-country element of this three-day competition.
Alas, Mother Nature decided to dribble on the whole parade and wash out yesterday.
Perplexed about the reasons behind horses not being able to trot and jump in slippery conditions, we retired to the nearest restaurant, where conversations flowed as freely as the claret stuff.
Naturally, matters eventually meandered to that epic Test match at Loftus last week.
Gosh, it was good.
There was pride in performance, and the kind of delicious uncertainty that die-hard sports fans live for, regardless of the final result.
Yes, it would have been terrific to see the Boks do the double on the All Blacks, but we are still talking about the greatest sports team in the world. Just in case some needed reminding.
They came to settle a score, keeping a low profile and gritting their collective jaw after the upset in Wellington.
That the Springboks have gone back to occupying that sacred place, where the Kiwis look at them with relish and respect, is immense for this relentless rivalry – and for all of us who follow it.
It’s great for the game, too, because new coach Rassie Erasmus and his team have renewed international hope that the World Cup shan’t be a one-horse race.
There will be dark horses in Japan, and the Springboks are happy to play the part of the outsider with a strong kick.
It’s tantalising, and you can sense that mounting optimism everywhere – even at a gathering of mares and soggy wellies.
The pride is back in the Bok jersey, in heaving, living colour.
And when they are the hottest topic of discussion, even in the depths of the sodden Midlands, hope springs eternal.
The Karkloof cross-country will wait for another day, but Japan 2019 can’t come soon enough. Especially for the green-jumpered thoroughbred on the outside, itching to spoil the party.