SA can be proud of Van Niekerk-Tarry parternship
Leading owner and champion trainer to be centre of attention at Equus banquet
When it comes to successful partnerships, the best-known are Bill Gates and Paul Allen (Microsoft) and Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (Apple).
To that exalted company, SA can proudly add a duo who have just celebrated 20 years together — owner Chris van Niekerk and trainer Sean Tarry.
At the annual Equus banquet at Emperors Palace Casino Resort in Kempton Park on Tuesday night, both should enjoy standing ovations as they receive their trophies for leading owner and champion trainer for the 2018/2019 season.
Van Niekerk’s stake earnings for the season were R15,322,763, with Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum in second place with on R12,355,538.
Tarry comfortably won the trainers title with his 165 winners earning a staggering R30,710,838, about R5m ahead of second-placed Justin Snaith.
It was another memorable campaign for Tarry who celebrated his 51st birthday on August 6, but two meetings stood out for the Randjesfontein conditioner.
At a minor meeting at Turffontein in February, Tarry, who began his career in 1998, saddled his 2,000th winner. He commented: “Many tried to pace it with Horse Chestnut, but inevitably came up gasping for air at the 200m. That’s like the rest of us taking on Mike de Kock so I will be content with my personal milestone and keep the focus on winning races.”
It got even better at Scottsville in May, when Tarry not only saddled three grade 1 winners but had the trifecta in the grade 1 Tsogo Sun Sprint.
Van Niekerk has to be the envy of many owners, with two Vodacom July victories notched on his belt. After Pomodoro's win in 2012, he said: “You dream of it, but when you taste it it’s even better than the dream. I will remain a fool and buy more.”
More recently, asked what the key was to his successful partnership with Tarry, he said: “Compatibility, respect and absolute trust.”
Bill Gates once commented: “A partnership is exactly like a marriage — if you don’t work on it, the chances of it [out]lasting its first few years are very minimal.”
Clearly, both Van Niekerk and Tarry have worked on their partnership.
One of the intriguing questions at Tuesday night’s awards will be whether Van Niekerk’s youngster Eden Roc wins the Champion Two-Year-Old Male category. The Var colt went into the Premier’s Champion Stakes unbeaten, but had no answer to the finishing burst of Joe Soma’s Gimmethegreenlight colt Got The Greenlight.
Asked for his selection, Sporting Post expert Lance Benson said: “It’s a hotly contested category and — on pure mathematics — then Eden Roc with a grade 2 under the belt would have the edge.
“But I’d like to think the panel is looking at things more holistically and in that case the manner of Got The Greenlight’s sensational Premier’s Champion win suggests he has a serious shout. Eden Roc hails from a champion yard while Got The Greenlight represents the ordinary man in Joe Soma. In the context of future scope and raw achievement, my heart is with the latter.”
Benson’s choice for the coveted horse-of-the-year title?
“The smashing good-looker Do It Again has the star quality and would be a deserving recipient. In the champion older male category, I’d side with Rainbow Bridge.”