Champion trainer Sean Tarry — and to a lesser degree his stable jockey Lyle Hewitson — are facing the harsh reality that life at the top is no bed of roses.

Last season Tarry finished R2.7m clear of Justin Snaith in the trainers championship. This term he is now R3.2m behind his Cape rival.

At the end of the 2018/2019 season, Tarry was practically walking on water. He won 165 races and R30.7m in stakes and his chief patron, Chris van Niekerk, was the main benefactor. There was more chance of it snowing than Van Niekerk’s box at Turffontein running out of whisky!

Yes, Hewitson is well clear in the national jockeys log, but it is a fair bet he has not enjoyed the first seven weeks of 2021. Luke Ferraris has been hogging all the headlines with wins in the Met and Guineas, and Tarry’s Randjesfontein has been stuttering along like Liverpool in the Premier League.

The quote by Olympic swimming coach Eddie Reese seems relevant here. He said: “The hardest skill to acquire in sport is the one where you compete all out, give it all you have and you are still getting beaten no matter what you do. When you have the killer instinct to fight through that, it is very special.”

There is little doubt the 52-year-old Tarry has the fighting spirit to turn things around, the major concern is that — while the Snaith camp have unearthed a new classy performer in Queen’s Plate winner Jet Dark — no real new stars have emerged over the past six months.

The stable fightback should commence at Turffontein on Saturday when two of the stable’s big earners Chimichuri Run and Eden Roc run in the fifth race while Shah Akbar and Invincible Warrior should be major players in the Egoli Mile.

With Mr Flood battling to regain his best form, it looks like a match race between the Tarry duo — one to watch rather than bet on.

Now Hewitson will be hoping that he — not Ferraris — is on the right one in the Egoli Mile and Shah Akbar’s form does look superior to his stable companion. It was a fair effort to run fourth behind Second Base in the Sea Cottage Stakes.

Invincible Warrior finished two lengths adrift of Kingsley’s Heart last time out and that winner ran sixth (beaten six lengths) by Malmoos in the Gauteng Guineas. He came home 10 lengths clear of my strong each-way choice, Eliud.

Ferraris’ mount does receive 6.5kg from Shah Akbar and does have a better draw so the Vercingetorix gelding will have his supporters.

Eliud’s trainer, Candice Dawson, runs Stone Cold and Humble Tune and this column prefers the latter who was bred by one of the most livewire and enthusiastic gentlemen in racing, Dave Scott.

Johan Janse van Vuuren will be fancying another top 10 finish in the trainers log this season (he occupied 10th place in 2019/2020) and his runner Puerto Manzano looks on an upward curve. Most Argentinian-bred horses stay well (as the late Terrance Millard proved) and the gelding may do even better over further than Saturday’s 1,600m.

Tarry brings a team of 13 runners to the city track and the stable has solid chances with Maple Sugar (fourth race), Seehaam (eighth) and Senescence in the final leg of the Pick 6.

• SuperSport will screen the $20m Saudi Cup — the world's richest race — at 7.40pm on Saturday.

Charlatan is the hot favourite but faces tough rivals in Knicks Go and Mishriff. Surprisingly, the latter will be ridden by David Egan and not John Gosden’s usual big race rider Frankie Dettori. He rides stable long-shot Global Saint.


1st Race: (3) Retallick (7) Supreme Quest (5) Warrior Captain (2) Irfaans Boy

2nd Race: No Selection

3rd Race: (1) Lucy Belle (5) Aflame (7) Diamonds N Dollars (4) Miss Venezuela

4th Race: (9) Maple Sugar (1) Riccardo (7) Flying Bull (10) Sarsaparilla

5th Race: (3) Eden Roc (1) Chimichuri Run (9) BattleofTrafalgar (7) Fire And Ice

6th Race: (5) Christopher Robin (1) Barahin (2) Divine Odyssey (3) Youcanthurrylove

7th Race: (1) Shah Akbar (2) Puerto Manzano (6) Invincible Warrior (9) Humble Tune

8th Race: (9) Seehaam (10) Rock You (6) Flaming Duchess (8) Kay Tee Perry

9th Race: (4) Phoenix (14) Senescence (6) Miracle And Wonder (3) Integrity

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