where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2021-04-17 08:41:02  

Training thoroughbred races horses in South Africa is possibly more stressful than running the country. The President gets a regular salary come month-end regardless of his popularity and if he or she gets shunted out at the next election, so be it. A racehorse trainer is never sure if income will cover expenses at the end of the month.

Rising feed costs, rising labour costs and the endless HR that goes with it. Slow horses, lame horses, high vet’s bills – not helped by some ridiculous NHA rules – finding new clients and owners who are months behind on their keep but demand who rides, where it runs and bleats when things didn’t work out to their satisfaction are a trainer’s nightmares.

But when a trainer does get a horse that can perform at the top level, the stress levels increase. Spare a thought for Paul Peter who runs Summer Pudding in the Gr1 HSH Princess Charlene Empress Club Stakes at Turffontein.

He is fortunate in that the filly is owned by people who know exactly what pressure he is under and understand the game but that still doesn’t make things easy in trying to keep last season’s Equus Champion playing the right tune.

Unbeaten until a disappointing effort in the Gr1 Paddock Stakes in Cape Town where she suffered her first reverse. That race will have been a desperate disappointment for the connections but there were excuses as she was reported coughing post-race. Not all take to the Cape summer weather.

In her first run back on home territory, she simply toyed with the field in the Gr2 Colorado King Stakes and she should not have too much difficulty in accounting for the Empress Club field.

This is possibly a stepping stone towards second consecutive wins in the Gauteng Summer Cup and one hopes that Peter has the Vodacom Durban July on his radar. Summer Pudding landed the Wilgerbosdrift Triple Tiara and the Woolavington 2000 last season and she will have more time to recover for a crack at the July.

Running Brave, as game as she is, proved no match for Summer Pudding in the Gauteng Summer Cup but could again prove best of the opposition although her last two efforts do not inspire any confidence.

Cape trainers are often accused of ducking the Highveld features but Brett Crawford has taken Summer Pudding on with Kelpie, a consistent performer in useful feature company. She ran a cracker in her Highveld warm-up and Anton Marcus will fulfil his obligations as Ridgemont’s retained rider and could be the first home behind Summer Pudding.

Lady Of Steel, who got her racing career off to a cracking start before losing form, has her third run after a break and should strip at her peak. She tired late in the recent Hawaii Stakes but is way better than that.

To sum up, Summer Pudding, at her best, should dispatch this field with ease. What will fill the placings? Kelpie, Lady Of Steel and Running Brave if she can find her best form.

Golden Circle 

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