Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Ormond Ferraris, who joined his first racing stable as an assistant not long after World War 2 and saddled his own first winner in 1952, will be sending out what could be his last two runners at the Vaal on Thursday.

The 87-year-old veteran and multiple champion trainer was so distressed by a grooms’ protest that threatened to derail the Turffontein meeting last Saturday that he had to be taken to a clinic for observation.

Ferraris said after his release on Sunday: “I have made my decision. I will be handing in my trainers’ licence. I am not prepared to put up with this any longer. There are troublemakers among the grooms and the sport cannot contain their demands.”

Ferraris’ departure marks a sad loss for the racing industry. A master horseman and coach of several other leading trainers, he prepared more than 2,500 winners in a career spanning more than 67 years.

The trainer’s promising three-year-old Captain Of Tortuga is the highest rated runner in an Assessment Plate over 1,400m which opens the Vaal Pick 6 and will have most punters’ money and fans’ sentiments running on his back. Piere Strydom takes the ride, and he will be hoping to end his own association with Ferraris on a successful note.

Geoff Woodruff, who saddled two feature winners on Champions Day, has a bright chance with former Durban-based runner Billy Silver in race 6 over 1,200m. The four-year-old found 1,400m beyond his reach at Turffontein in April and can pick up the pieces racing back down the Vaal straight. He won with some authority in his only attempt at this course and distance last December.

Another favourite old-timer is seven-year-old Talktothestars, who was rated 121 after he won the grade 1 Golden Horse Sprint in 2016. His merit rating has dropped a mammoth 41 points to 80 since then and he looks more than capable of winning a MR88 Handicap (race 8) that closes off the Jackpot.

“Talktothestars still has plenty of ability but he’s become a clever old guy, he rides his jockey instead of the other way round,” joked his trainer Coenie de Beer on Wednesday. “I have the experienced Sherman Brown booked this time and I think he will suit Talktothestars, I’m expecting a good run,” he added.

Vaal delections

Race 1: (5) Canquari (9) Loosen Your Tie (15) Bold Over (14) Syx Shooter

Race 2: (10) Solar Flare (13) Virtuosa (11) Spring Break (3) Capetown Dream

Race 3: (16) Waimea (1) Dickens (14) Rock Breaker (13) Theravada

Race 4: (1) Captain Of Tortuga (5) Fired Up (2) Lake Kinneret (3) My Boi Caloi

Race 5: (1) Virginia (8) Mattima (6) Elegancia (5) Walnut Dash

Race 6: (6) Billy Silver (5) Valbonne (9) Danza (1) Africa Rising

Race 7: (4) Twelve Oaks (1) Pool Party (9) Mademoiselle (2) Oura

Race 8: (9) Talktothestars (1) American Hustle (5) Donny G (8) Life Is Good

Race 9: (1) Generous Notion (5) Visuality (12) Coyote Girl (13) Illegal