In his exemplary life and career, golfing legend Gary Player has had few disappointments — except perhaps one. He has found it harder winning “majors” on the racetracks than “Majors” on the golf course. 

Now based in Plettenberg Bay after selling his Karoo stud farm, Player can be proud that horses he has bred include the grade 1 performer Broadway Flyer who ran in the Epsom Derby and French grade 3 winner Cachet Noir.

However, racing’s “Majors” such as the July and Met have eluded the man who was affectionately dubbed the Black Knight.

He will not have enjoyed just having big race runners — he has always strived to win and not run a place.

This is born out by one of his quotes. He said: “I am tired of all these golfers who are happy with second place. The only one who will like you if you come in second place is your wife and your dog. And that is only if you have a good wife and a good dog.”

Player, who celebrates his 85th birthday in November, will be keeping his eye on the action at Turffontein on Saturday as a mare he bred, Green Plains, is likely to start favourite for the R150,000 Bauhinia Handicap.

A daughter of Gimmethegreenlight (sire of the first three home in last weekend’s SA Classic, Green Plains was bought by Chris van Niekerk for R350,000 at the CTS Yearling Sale. If the five-year-old is successful on Saturday, it will take her earnings to more than R1.2m.

In-form apprentice Luke Ferraris, who rides Green Plains, can expect challenges from Gavin Lerena on Dancing Queen and Craig Zackey on Singforafa. Another Tarry inmate Summer Afternoon is also worth including in jackpot and Pick 6 perms.

Saturday’s grade 2 Senor Santa Stakes could produce a thrilling finish between three talented speedsters — Mr Flood, Mardi Gras and the three-year-old filly Basadi Faith.

Mr Flood, trained by Lucky Houdalakis, has been a revelation this season and the Pathfork gelding is bidding for his sixth consecutive win.

As a result, he is likely to be the first choice of the majority of pundits, but it is this column’s view he faces a tough task conceding 6.5kg to Basadi Faith. Paul Matchett’s filly stopped the clock in a fast time when winning her most recent start by three lengths.

Mardi Gras has a four-point higher merit-rating than Mr Flood so has to concede him 2kg. This R3.2m buy may be up to the task though he will also be making his first appearance since November.

Player also bred recent winner Bellagio King, who takes his chance in the fifth race — the Derby Trial over 2,000m. Muzi Yeni’s mount will be one of the outsiders with Cornish Pomodoro, Our Man in Havana and Master Supreme likely to corner most of the money.

There is an interesting jockey switch in this race as Raymond Danielson, who has ridden Master Supreme in each of his four races, changes to stablemate Banha Bridge.

Commentator Alistair Cohen, co-owner of Banha Bridge, can point to the fact that his three-year-old beat Latin Opus at Turffontein in January and the runner-up franked the form with a good recent win at the Vaal. The son of Flower Alley could reward an each-way punt.

If Player is the legend of the golfing ranks, Ormond Ferraris can be described as one of racing’s legends and it is an excellent move to name the sixth race — the Oaks Trial — after the recently-retired trainer.

Wild Date has won two of her five starts for trainer Geoff Woodruff and the Judpot filly — owned and bred by Varsfontein Stud — gets the vote to edge out Mike de Kock’s runner  Pomander.


1st Race: (3) Dubawi Princess (1) Karnallie (2) Portico (4) Elusive Woman

2nd Race: (6) Siren Of Greece (1) Fromheretoeternity (9) Uluate (4) Rabbedoe

3rd Race: (10) On Broadway (9) Fire Flower (2) Fireworks (3) Miss Cap Mala

4th Race: (1) Vaseem (4) Illusion (6) Before The Dawn (2) Look To The Sky

5th Race: (5) Bahna Bridge (1) Cornish Pomodoro (7) Master Supreme (3) Our Man In Havana

6th Race: (3) Wild Date (1) Pomander (2) Tartan Dancer (5) Ballet Shoes

7th Race: (7) Basadi Faith (2) Mr Flood (1) Mardi Gras (9) Benji

8th Race: (3) Green Plains (2) Dancing Queen (1) Singforafa (13) Summer Afternoon

9th Race: (5) Factor Fifty (2) Sunshine Silk (3) Flichity By Farr (1) Seville Orange

10th Race: (2) Abdul (1) Eppagilia (4) Willo'thewisp (5) Dogliotti

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