The Citizen (KZN)

Smaller trainers set sights on lucrative feature races


- Dave Mollett

As the leading stables of Sean Tarry, Mike de Kock and Geoff Woodruff hit top gear ahead of the big Turffontei­n meeting on 6 May, two of the lesser lights of the training ranks are preparing to take a share of the spoils.

They are Jurgen van Heerden, who has just seven horses in his stable, and Brian Wiid who has weathered every storm that has come his way in racing and is now in his 43rd year as a trainer.

Jurgen, a Joburg property developer who hopes to switch to training full-time in two years’ time, is aiming his talented stayer, Ilitshe, at next month’s R500,000 Gold Bowl.

Right now Jurgen feels as happy as Masters winner Sergio Garcia as - though there was no green jacket after the race - Ilitshe gave him his first graded stakes success with the Caradoc Gold Cup.

“It was wonderful and gave me a sort of tingling feeling. After the way he won, I feel we have to have a go at the Gold Bowl,” said Jurgen.

“Ryan (Munger) and I discussed the race on the Thursday and the plan was to leave it late - I thought he’d gone too early the time before. Afterwards, he felt he had actually left it too late and was going to blame my instructio­ns!”

Ryan is likely to be aboard the son of Fastnet Rock again in the Turffontei­n race. “Andrew Fortune would have ridden him but he won’t have his weight.”

Ilitshe is a former inmate of the Mike de Kock yard and Jurgen feels he owes the legendary trainer a vote of thanks. “Mike gives us smaller guys a chance with his dispersal sales - he said we’d have fun with Ilitshe and he was right.”

I inquired whether a tilt at the Durban Gold Cup might also be on the agenda, but this seems unlikely according to Jurgen. “He’s a big horse who takes time to get into top gear so I don’t feel the tight Greyville track will suit him.”

Obviously, the Turffontei­n race will be Ilitshe’s toughest test with the possibilit­y of Zafira, Save The Rhino and Royal Honour likely to be opposing once again, but it’s good to see an emerging stayer in our thin long-distance ranks.

Another well-bred member of Jurgen’s team is Anjaal – who is running at Turffontei­n on Saturday - is one to keep on your side when he’s fully fit.

Also in the small number is Announcing Rain who was purchased at the Adriaan van Vuuren sale and there are high hopes for this one as well.

If you cast your mind back 12 months, you will remember a three-year-old named Bankable Teddy delighted Brian Wiid when winning the Derby Trial.

Brian, who has trained top performers such as Cardinal Fury and Knife Edge, nearly caused a massive upset in the 2017 version of the same race with 40-1 shot, Lee’s Pick. Unfortunat­ely for Brian, Geoff Woodruff had Pagoda at the top of his game and the Mogok gelding won by three lengths.

“I wasn’t that surprised that he ran well,” says Brian. “He’d been working well at home, had a good draw and we finished two lengths ahead of Sean Tarry’s runner, Hamaan.”

“I’ll definitely be entering him for the Derby, but at this stage I’m unsure whether to run him or not. You’ve got to remember they’ll be racing at level weights - it’s a big difference to the Trial (when Lee’s Pick received 7kg from Pagoda).”

Whatever the programme for Lee’s Pick, Brian is more than happy at the way the cards have fallen for him this year.

“I’ve had seven winners in the last two months which isn’t bad when I’ve only got a team of 13 horses who are currently racing. I do have around 22 two-year-olds which I’m excited about.”

Streetwear, Racing Socks and Jackman are 2017 winners from the stable which spring to mind the last-named eventually getting his act together under the masterly handling of Andrew Fortune with his enthusiast­ic owners at last being able to shout out at Kelvin’s Bar “give us a round Kelv - it’s been a long wait”.

“I feel there are more wins in Jackman - especially in the winter with the going on top,” says Brian who is instantly recognisab­le with his flat cap.

Yes, if determinat­ion is any guide, Messrs Van Heerden and Wiid are two guys whose runners can spring a surprise even at a meeting with the depth of Masters-like contenders.

 ??  ?? GOOD STAYER. Ilitshe has already won the Caradoc Gold Cup and will now be aimed at the Grade 3 Gold Bowl over 3200m on 6 May.
GOOD STAYER. Ilitshe has already won the Caradoc Gold Cup and will now be aimed at the Grade 3 Gold Bowl over 3200m on 6 May.

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